SOUTHAMPTON: Stuart Broad took wickets at either end of a long, hot day while Moeen Ali turned the focus back on to his cricket as England strengthened their grip on the third Test against India in Southampton.
At the close of the third day yesterday, India were 323 for eight in reply to England’s imposing first innings 569 for seven declared, a deficit of 246 runs and still needing a further 47 to avoid the follow-on.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was 50 not out and Mohammed Shami four not out.
Broad, who had looked tired for much of this series, appeared to have regained his old zest while taking three for 65 in 23 overs.
Meanwhile, James Anderson, England’s other senior pace bowler, who had taken a wicket late on Monday, finished with three for 52 in 24 overs yesterday.
Ali may still be categorised as an “occasional” off-spinner but he too weighed in with valuable wickets either side of tea.
Before play started, Birmingham-born Ali, a practising Muslim, was warned by the International Cricket Council not to repeat his “political” protest that saw him wearing wristbands bearing the words “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” while batting on Monday.
Ali only managed 12 in an England total built on Ian Bell’s 167, Gary Ballance’s Test-best 156, captain Alastair Cook’s morale-boosting 95 and debutant Jos Buttler’s quickfire 85.
India resumed on 25 for one.
Murali Vijay was 11 not out and Cheteshwar Pujara four not out.
England, 1-0 down in the five-match series after India’s 95-run win at Lord’s and without a victory in their 10 previous Tests, badly needed an early breakthrough.
Broad, one of several home bowlers appreciably quicker than those playing for India in the absence of the injured Ishant Sharma, whose seven for 74 at Lord’s sealed the tourists’ victory, got England going with two wickets in quick succession.
Pujara did not get out of the way of a short ball in time and gave Buttler a simple catch for his first Test dismissal.
Broad struck again when Vijay, also attempting to withdraw his bat, deflected the ball onto his stumps.
After lunch, Virat Kohli saw a leaping Cook at first slip drop a catch above his head following a loose cut off Chris Jordan that went for four to take him to 38.
However, the struggling Kohli had added just one run to his score when he edged Anderson and Cook made no mistake at slip.
Rohit Sharma, brought back after India dropped all-rounder Stuart Binny, had offered solid support in a fifth-wicket stand of 74.
But on 28 he sliced a drive off Ali, with Broad holding a fumbling catch at mid-off.
India’s 214 for five at tea soon became 217 for six when Rahane, who had made a superb hundred at Lord’s, toe-ended an intended pull off an Ali long-hop and substitute fielder Sean Terry, on for the injured Bell, held the gentle catch at mid-wicket
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who had turned the tide at Lord’s with a dashing 68, again opted to counter-attack.
But Anderson, who could be banned by the ICC from the final two Tests of the series because of his confrontation with Jadeja in the drawn opener at Trent Bridge, struck with the new ball to have the left-hander lbw with an inswinger for 31.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a thorn in England’s side with the bat, struck three fours in four Broad balls.
But Broad had his man when Kumar (19) inside-edged the ball onto his pad and was caught by Ballance, diving forward from third slip.
Dhoni, however, smashed Ali for six and cover-drove Broad for four to complete a 103-ball fifty.
Broad and Anderson reached a landmark yesterday, combining for their 500th wicket as a test partnership.
It made them only the third pair to achieve the feat, following Pakistani duo Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram and West Indians Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.