Birmingham, Jul 4 (IANS): An unbeaten half-century by top-order batter Cheteshwar Pujara stretched India's lead to 257 on day three of the Edgbaston Test against England on Sunday. At stumps, India are 125/3 in 45 overs, with Pujara stitching an unbeaten stand of 50 with Rishabh Pant (30 not out).
Gaining a 132-run lead after Mohammed Siraj picked four wickets while Jasprit Bumrah scalped three to bowl out England for 284 in 61.3 overs, with Jonny Bairstow making a belligerent 106. India should be aware that England have had chased 277, 299 and 296 in their last three games and would need to bat for as long as possible to inch closer to gaining the Pataudi Trophy.
Hanuma Vihari was enticed by Stuart Broad to drive, but the safe hands of Bairstow took the catch safely at slip. Virat Kohli got off the mark with a cover drive and replayed it when Broad returned in his next over. Cheteshwar Pujara continued with his risk-free play and even survived a close lbw appeal when Matthew Potts rapped him on his front pad.
Kohli stroked James Anderson for an impressive off-drive before Ben Stokes got one to kick up from length and took the glove edge of Kohli to wicketkeeper Sam Billings, who spilled it but Joe Root at first slip completed the catch on rebound.
Pujara continued to be patient in leaving balls outside the off-stump, rotating the strike judiciously and hitting an occasional boundary. Rishabh Pant, the first innings centurion, was off and running with a flick through deep mid-wicket off Broad.
As England's bowlers continued to feed balls to Pant straight towards the leg-stump, he picked ones and twos easily while drilling easy boundaries through mid-on and mid-wicket regions. He even resisted the temptation of hitting Joe Root big when the part-time off-spinner floated loopy deliveries in the outside off-stump corridor.
Pujara's work on holding one end up continued when he brought up his fifty in his comeback Test with a single flicked through deep mid-wicket before Pant was deceived by low bounce on an attempted cut, which wicketkeeper Sam Billings couldn't grab, making it a day which clearly belonged to India.
Brief scores: India 416 and 125/3 in 45 overs (Cheteshwar Pujara 50 not out, Rishabh Pant 30 not out; Ben Stokes 1-22, James Anderson 1-26) lead England 284 in 61.3 overs (Jonny Bairstow 106, Sam Billings 36; Mohammed Siraj 4-66, Jasprit Bumrah 3-68) by 257 runs