England will leave Virat Kohli to play to the gallery as they battle to stay in the series against India.
Kohli appeared to deliberately revisit his spat with Ben Stokes when he waited for the big-screen camera to fall on him before miming a “shush” gesture, with his index finger pointing upwards between his lips and nose, after the England all-rounder was dismissed late on day three in the third Test.
Stokes’ departure, lbw after a review to Ravi Ashwin (three for 19), came shortly after Jonny Bairstow, below, was caught behind off Jayant Yadav – two hammer blows to England’s slim hopes of avoiding defeat in Mohali.
They closed on 78 for four, still 56 runs short of making their hosts bat again, after India had recovered from 156 for five to pile up 417 all out.
Stokes earned an International Cricket Council reprimand and a demerit point when he responded with “inappropriate comments” to the Kohli’s ‘send-off’ after he was out in England’s first innings, and did not risk further trouble when he then had the India captain caught behind – putting his hand over his mouth and walking away.
Kohli’s latest reply could be construed as a parody of that – but either way, Bairstow was not rising to the apparent play-acting.
“It’s up to him, isn’t it?” he said. “He’s obviously quite a vocal character – but that’s Virat. He gets a bit wound up.”
England are not about to be distracted. “We’ll just leave it to him,” Bairstow added. “If he wants to do that, let him do that – and we’ll go about our business as we have done over a period of time.
“If he wants to get the crowd to do that, then let him.”
England’s wicketkeeper acknowledges they are in a tough spot on a deteriorating pitch, but pointed to the collective ability of not-out batsman Joe Root and several such as Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid still to come.
“There’s obviously a bit of variable bounce, but you kind of expect that on day three. There’s a little bit more happening, but, at the same time, it’s still a decent pitch.
“We lost a few wickets this evening –not ideal and not to plan. But we’ve still got Rooty out there in the middle, Jos to come, Woakesy to come and Rash – who’s scored a heck of a lot of runs over a period of time.
“There’s still a lot of batting in the shed.
“We lost both Ben and me quite late [on Monday evening]. That’s disappointing, but we’ve got to take it on the chin – there’s nothing we can do about it now– and we’ve got guys still able to go well (on Tuesday).”
India’s lower order has already shown how it can be done – with Ravindra Jadeja (90), Ashwin (72) and Jayant Yadav (55) all making much-needed half-centuries.
Bairstow added: “We’re behind the eight-ball at the moment .
“But in that morning session on Tuesday, we hope we can go and do what the Indians did to us. They played well – give them credit.”
England had a modicum of success at least slowing India’s process by bowling to packed off-side fields.
Unsurprisingly, that tactic did not find favour with Jadeja – who eventually fell short of a maiden Test hundred when he dragged a wide leg-break from Rashid to long-on.
“They were bowling very boring lines –outside off, outside off, outside off,” he said.
“I thought I could disturb the bowler, get outside off and hit through the leg-side – where there were just two fielders.
“The shot I got out to, that is my shot. I always hit that ball for six... but the ball came off the wicket slowly, so the impact wasn’t powerful.”
l Haseeb Hameed, unable to open in England’s second innings because of an injured left little finger, is expected to bat on the fourth day before having an X-ray after the match to determine the extent of the problem and its impact on the rest of his tour.