Birmingham, July 4 (IANS) Captain Ben Stokes took a four-wicket haul as England bowled out India for 245 in 81.5 overs in their second innings of the rescheduled fifth Test at Edgbaston on Monday. It also means that the visitors have set a target of 378 for England on a pitch with variable bounce for pacers and some turn for spinners.
If England are to square the series, currently led by India 2-1, they will have to attempt their highest successful chase ever in Test cricket and at this venue as well. Post lunch, Stokes, who had taken out Virat Kohli on Sunday, bounced out Mohammed Shami, having him caught at deep backward square-leg.
Ravindra Jadeja never got going and Stokes ended his stay by getting one to jag in sharply and force the left-hander to chop on his stumps. India skipper Jasprit Bumrah pulled him for a huge six-over fine leg. But Stokes had the last laugh on the very next ball as Bumrah went for the same shot, only to hole out to fine leg, with Stokes ending with 4-33 in 11.5 overs.
Earlier, Rishabh Pant followed up his 146 in the first innings with 57 while Cheteshwar Pujara notched up 66 in the second innings. Pujara began the day by hitting James Anderson for successive boundaries — a crunchy punch through cover was followed by a slick whip through mid-wicket.
Stuart Broad struck in his first over, with a short and wide outside off-stump ball which Pujara cut straight to backward point. Pant motored along, nailing a controlled short-arm jab through deep mid-wicket off Anderson while Shreyas Iyer, despite being troubled by short balls, hit three boundaries, including two beautiful cover drives off Matthew Potts.
Pant reached his fifty with a delicate flick through fine leg, becoming just the second Indian wicketkeeper after Farokh Engineer to get a century and fifty in the same Test. Iyer fell to the short ball yet again in the match, pulling straight to mid-wicket off Potts, giving Anderson his 100th catch in Test cricket.
Pant welcomed Jack Leach with a reverse sweep behind fine leg for a boundary despite falling on the ground. With the left-arm spinner getting some turn in from the rough, Pant tried to unsettle his line and length with another reverse sweep, but could only glove behind to first slip, falling for 57. He finished the match with 203 runs across both innings.
Potts then rattled Shardul Thakur with the short-ball ploy and variable bounce happening from the pitch, even striking him on side of the helmet once. In his next over, Thakur tried to take on the short ball with a pull but the top-edge flew to deep fine leg.
Jadeja had a reprieve when Anderson dropped his catch at cover while Shami struck a brace of boundaries to keep India on top before Stokes took out the remaining wickets post-lunch to give England a go at a record chase in their history of Test cricket.
Brief scores: India 416 and 245 in 81.5 overs (Cheteshwar Pujara 66, Rishabh Pant 57; Ben Stokes 4-33, Matthew Potts 2-50) lead England 284 by 378 runs