The outcome of England’s 1,000th Test was on a knife-edge after they and India traded memorable blows on a compelling third day at Edgbaston.
Sam Curran’s maiden Test half-century bailed England out from 87 for seven to reach a second-innings 180 all out, after Ishant Sharma (five for 51) had taken three wickets in an over either side of lunch.
Then as India set out in pursuit of 194 to go 1-0 up in this Specsavers series, Stuart Broad saw off both openers before the tourists’ lynchpin, captain Virat Kohli, once more refused to give way in a close-of-play 110 for five.
Broad energised the Hollies Stand with his two early wickets in successive overs.
Egged on by England captain Joe Root from mid-off, this country’s noisiest cricket enclosure answered the call as Broad followed the dismissal of Murali Vijay, lbw playing no shot, with that of Shikhar Dhawan, who edged an outswinger behind.
KL Rahul then never convinced and eventually went caught-behind too, when Ben Stokes found the necessary movement at the end of his second over, and Ajinkya Rahane followed the same way – this time off Curran – as India slumped to 63 for four.
As for so much of Thursday, however, Kohli, pictured, was still there.
He lost another general when Jonny Bairstow took his fourth catch as Ravi Ashwin edged James Anderson, but would not be moved as he reached stumps on an unbeaten 43 to add to his first-innings 149.
England’s second innings had earlier hit deep trouble by lunch, thanks to Ishant.
Ashwin had already done his damage. Another perfect off-break did the trick for Jennings, caught at second slip via a forward prod.
Root tried to take the game to India rather than sitting in defensively, but he paid for his positivity when he clipped Ashwin straight to leg-slip, where Rahul held a very sharp catch.
Dawid Malan was soon engaged in a largely unequal struggle, especially against Ishant.
He began to walk off in resignation after edging one delivery low to slip, only for the “catcher” Dhawan to immediately signal his doubts.
An umpire’s review issued the reprieve, but Malan added only three runs before Ishant’s angle from round the wicket and movement away did for him anyway – up the pitch to try to mitigate yet still edging to gully.
It was over to England’s middle-order powerhouse strokemakers, but all three were to go in the same over either side of lunch.
Bairstow fenced a catch to slip, and two balls later Stokes was snapped up by Kohli in the cordon.
Ishant took his third wicket when Jos Buttler’s miserable Test as England’s new vice-captain culminated in his caught-behind departure for a single.
But Curran (63) took his cue for further heroics after his four-wicket haul of the previous day.
The 20-year-old began with his share of fortune, outside edge to the fore as he went after any width on offer from the seamers – although the chance he gave on 13, through the fingers of Dhawan at slip off Mohammed Shami, was a very tough one. But his repertoire grew, the more so after Adil Rashid was bowled through the gate by Umesh Yadav to end an eighth-wicket stand of 48.
The young all-rounder had already advanced to hit Ashwin for a mighty straight six, and then completed his run-a-ball half-century with another maximum – an audacious blow over extra-cover off the returning Ishant.
Broad then became Ishant’s fifth victim, caught at slip off full-length swing – and Curran was last out, on the stroke of tea, when he edged an attempted glide off Yadav to the wicketkeeper.