The dazzling century of Rishabh Pant saw India fend off a Ben Stokes-led battle against England on a convincing second day of the final test in Ahmedabad

In extreme heat, Stokes’ great effort led the gates of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to reduce India to 146-6 in response to England’s 205

But Pant countered in exciting style, climbing into a grueling attack from England for 101 of 118 balls with 13 fours and two sixes

Pant shared a seventh wicket stand of 113 with Washington Sundar, which went undefeated at 60 when India hit 294-7.89 ahead of them

India leads 2-1 and must avoid losing to win the series and secure a meeting with New Zealand in the final of the Test World Cup

This was a wonderful day of Test Cricket, an arm wrestling for control on a field that is about to deteriorate

In two sessions on Thursday, England were just as good with the ball as they were bad with the bat, which left the hosts with little peace of mind

Though Dan Lawrence’s 46 was crucial on day one, the decision to batting left England close to a bowler by the late second day, especially when off-spinner Dom Bess looked unconfident after two failures Tests

Pant had a memorable century that wowed spectators in the world’s largest cricket stadium

England still has the option to post a goal for the fourth inning that could be difficult to track on the face

When Sundar joined Pant, India was still 59 years back, threatening to give up a lead in the first innings

The wicketkeeper, who played a crucial inning on the final day of India’s streak win in Australia, began curbing his attacking intent before unleashing the full range of his stroke His first 63 balls got 37 runs The next 55 got 64

On the 35 he survived a minor lbw scream from Bess in the pre-tee final on his return after the break, Pant increased the intensity when England decided to roll Bess and Joe Root in place of their front trio of Stokes, James Anderson and Jack Leach

Pant found a different gait when England took the second new ball, boldly swept Anderson backwards over the slip, and then moved on to his third testing century by firing Root for six

After Pant moved to the middle of the wicket to give Anderson his third wicket, Sundar continued to play correctly and calmly with Axar Patel at an unbroken score of 35

Sundar fell over and got Bess in the penultimate end of an evening session that resulted in 141 runs, lbw

Before Pant’s pyrotechnics, England got back into the fray, thanks in no small part to Stokes, whose bowling brought back memories of the marathon spell he produced in Headingley in the same test as his career-defining century against Australia

Stokes showed no signs of stomach problems from which he had suffered He rolled at a high pace, creating an amazing swing Kohli was caught by a brutal lifter for a duck while Rohit was fooled by a giant insswinger to be for 49 lbw

Anderson, who was also sick, was just as good. Most of the day he had Ajinkya Rahane a head start on the second slip for 27

The nut on the left arm, Leach, remained reliable He held on to Cheteshwar Pujara lbw and made Ravichandran Ashwin short in the middle of the wicket

Bess could not be trusted, however, and threw a series of full throws and long jumps it was hard not to feel for him after being left out earlier on the series for Moeen Ali, who was then asked to move on, just to go for his scheduled rest period

With Root nowhere near regaining the magic of his 5-8 from the previous test, England was a bowler’s light and exhausted and with no options in the evening

Former England captain Michael Vaughan at The Cricket Social: “I think I’ve never been as disappointed with the management of a player as Dom Bess”

“What do you expect from a child if you suddenly put them under that amount of spotlights after they’ve been dropped? It’s just completely wrong”

Former English weirdo Phil Tufnell: “I don’t think England ruined Dom Bess but India might have”

Jeetan Patel, English spin bowling coach: “The players are very tired They exhausted everything they had out there We were able to get one step ahead of the game but it didn’t work out that way When India has to chase a little over 100 on a supporting wicket, that could be interesting “

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