Birmingham, July 3: Continuing his rich vein of form in the red-ball format Jonny Bairstow played a sensational counter-attacking knock in the opening session on Sunday (July 3) as England reached 200 for six at lunch break on day three of the rescheduled fifth Test against India.
Bairstow looked out of sheen before the close of play on day two as he had only scored 12* off 46 deliveries in front of a quality spell of pace bowling from India's pace troika of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj. However, on day three, the right-handed batsman from Yorkshire shifted gears in no time and started attacking Indian bowlers around the park.
Bairstow, however, didn't start that way when he walked into the middle with Ben Stokes. At one stage he was batting on 16 off 65 balls but an animated chat with former India captain Virat Kohli into the middle perhaps charged him up. The batter - who is coming on the back of consecutive tons against New Zealand in the just-concluded series at home - unleashed his beast mode and started dealing in boundaries.
The right-handed batter completed his fifty off just 81 deliveries and then went on to 91* off 113 balls by the time rain stopped play. England had reached 200 for six in 45.3 overs by then and the danger of getting the follow-on had been evaded. In his knock of 91*, Bairstow - who is the leading run-scorer in Tests in 2022 - smashed 12 boundaries and a couple of towering sixes.
He first forged a partnership of 66 runs with skipper Ben Stokes - who also tried sending the looseness to the boundaries - and later shared an unbeaten 51-run stand for the seventh wicket with Sam Billings. Off these 51 runs, Billings' share was just 7.
The English lost just one wicket in the morning session in skipper Stokes. The left-handed batter was dismissed for 25 off 31 when India skipper Jasprit Bumrah took a sensational catch diving towards his left at mid-off off the bowling of Shardul Thakur. Both Thakur and Bumrah redeemed themselves as on the previous delivery Bumrah had dropped a sitter at the same location and a few overs back Thakur had given the English skipper a reprieve by putting down a simple catch at covers off Mohammed Shami's bowling.
Shami was the most dangerous bowler in the morning session as the senior right-arm pacer kept asking questions all through but was unlucky to not have got any success. He was looking like a man on a mission but luck evaded him as it never hit the mark.
Just before the skies opened up, Thakur had trapped Bairstow in front and the umpire raised his finger but the batter immediately went upstairs to review it and the ultra-edge confirmed there was a nick, forcing the on-field umpire to change his decision. Soon after rain stopped the play and an intense session of cricket came to an abrupt end. England scored 116 runs and lost just one wicket as an early lunch was taken.
With Bairstow nearing his third consecutive Test hundred, the second session is going to be an interesting one. The visitors, however, would be looking to wrap up England's innings as soon as possible and maintain a healthy first-innings lead.