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CHENNAI: England spinner Dom Bess claimed four wickets to leave India struggling to avoid the follow-on despite Rishabh Pant’s blazing 91 on day three of the opening Test on Sunday.

India reached 257 for six at stumps in response to England’s 578 in Chennai.

Washington Sundar, on 33, and Ravichandran Ashwin, on eight, were batting with an unbroken stand of 32. India need another 122 to avoid the follow-on.

Fast bowler Jofra Archer removed openers Rovit Sharma and Shuman Gill in the morning session and Bess soon took over with his off spin to get key wickets including skipper Virat Kohli for 11.

“It’s more about the collective, we’ve taken six today and it’s set up the game nicely,” Bess, who returned figures of 4-55, told reporters.

“We’ve seen it starting to spin and that’s only going to get more. We’re pretty close to the new ball, we’re in a great seat at the moment.”

Pant smashed his fourth Test fifty in 40 balls to counter the England bowling but became Bess’ fourth victim after he miscued a lofted hit to get caught by Jack Leach at deep cover.

The wicketkeeper-batsman hit nine fours and five sixes, which came against Leach’s left-arm spin, in his 88-ball blitz.

Pant, who was one of India’s heroes in their Test win in Australia, helped India recover from 73 for four with a 119-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara, who made 73.

Pujara was caught at short mid-wicket with the ball coming off a rebound from the shoulder of the fielder ducking at short leg.

Bess got Kohli’s prized scalp with a ball outside the off stump that spun sharply, and the Indian captain pressed forward only to get an inside edge for a catch at short leg.

“It was (special) and more for the fact of what my process was,” said Bess of the big wicket.

Scoreboard

=====================================
England 1st innings (overnight 555-8,
Bess 28, Leach 6)
=====================================
R. Burns c Pant b Ashwin           33
D. Sibley lbw b Bumrah             87
D. Lawrence lbw b Bumrah            0
J. Root lbw b Nadeem              218
B. Stokes c Pujara b Nadeem        82
O. Pope lbw b Ashwin               34
J. Buttler b Sharma                30
D. Bess lbw b Bumrah               34
J. Archer b Sharma                  0
J. Leach not out                   14
J. Anderson b Ashwin                1
-------------------------------------
Extras: (b7, lb17, nb20, w1)       45
-------------------------------------
Total: (190.1 overs, all out)     578
-------------------------------------
Fall of wickets: 1-63 (Burns), 2-63 (Lawrence), 3-263 (Sibley), 4-387 (Stokes), 5-473 (Pope), 6-477 (Root), 7-525 (Buttler), 8-525 (Archer), 9-567 (Bess), 10-578 (Anderson)

Bowling: Sharma 27-7-52-2 (nb5), Bumrah 36-7-84-3 (w1, nb7), Ashwin 55.1-5 -146-3 (nb2), Nadeem 44-4-167-2 (nb6), Sundar 26-2-98-0, R. Sharma 2-0-7-0

=========================================
India 1st innings
=========================================
R. Sharma c Buttler b Archer            6
S. Gill c Anderson b Archer            29
C. Pujara c Burns b Bess               73
V. Kohli c Pope b Bess                 11
A. Rahane c Root b Bess                 1
R. Pant c Leach b Bess                 91
W. Sundar not out                      33
R. Ashwin not out                       8
-----------------------------------------
Extras: (b4, lb1)                       5
-----------------------------------------
Total: (74 overs, 6 wkts)             257
-----------------------------------------
Fall of wickets: 1-19 (R. Sharma), 2-44 (Gill), 3-71 (Kohli), 4-73 (Rahane), 5-192 (Pujara), 6-225 (Pant)

To bat: I. Sharma, J. Bumrah, S. Nadeem

Bowling: Anderson 11-3-34-0, Archer 16-3-52-2, Stokes 6-1-16-0, Leach 17-2-94-0, Bess 23-5-55-4, Root 1-0-1-0

Toss: England

Umpires: Anil Chaudhary (IND) and Nitin Menon (IND)

TV umpire: Chettithody Shamshuddin (IND)

Match referee: Javagal Srinath (IND).—AFP

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