London - Chris Woakes continued a superb return to England duty with
a maiden Test century against India at Lord's on Saturday as the home side took
a firm grip on the match.
When bad light forced an early close on the third day,
England were 357 for six in reply to India's meagre first-innings 107 - a
commanding lead of 250 runs.
Woakes was 120 not out, having shared a partnership of 189
with Jonny Bairstow (93) that was an England record for the sixth wicket in
Test matches against India, beating the 171 put on by Ian Botham and Bob Taylor
at Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1980.
It was a stand made all the more valuable by the fact
England had slumped to 98 for four at lunch, after their latest top-order
collapse threatened to undo the bowlers' good work.
Warwickshire favourite Woakes, recalled after England
omitted Ben Stokes because of a clash with his fellow pace-bowling
all-rounder's trial for affray, had missed the hosts' 31-run win in the first
Test at his Edgbaston home ground last week because of fitness concerns
following knee and calf injuries.
The 29-year-old had already proved his worth with the ball
by taking two for 19 on Friday, including the prize scalp of India captain
And in his 25th match at this level, Woakes surpassed his
previous Test best of 66, made against Sri Lanka at Lord's two years ago,
before completing a 129-ball hundred, including 15 fours, with a pulled three
off Hardik Pandya.
His innings, which has been in progress more than
three-and-a-half hours, meant Woakes's name was now on all three Lord's honours
boards that record centuries, five-wicket innings returns and 10-wicket match
hauls in Tests at the 'home of cricket'.
Woakes took six for 70 and five for 32 in a match return of
11 for 102 against Pakistan at Lord's in 2016.
The only sadness for England was that Bairstow did not reach
three figures as well.
Instead he fell seven short when brilliantly caught
one-handed by diving opposing wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik off Pandya.
Saturday's play resumed with England yet to begin their
reply after James Anderson, in overcast conditions ideal for swing bowling, had
taken five for 20 on Friday following Thursday's total washout.
By contrast, England's innings commenced under sunny blue
skies that promised to make life easier for the batsmen.
Ishant Sharma, whose Test-best seven for 44 against England
sealed India's 95-run win in the corresponding Lord's clash four years ago,
bowled the first over.
But it was new-ball partner Mohammed Shami who made the
breakthrough when Keaton Jennings (11) was lbw playing across the line.
Five balls later Jennings's fellow left-handed opener
Alastair Cook (21) was out as well, caught behind off a superb Sharma delivery
from around the wicket that squared him up and seamed away before finding the
The exit of England's all-time leading Test run-scorer meant
20-year-old debutant batsman Ollie Pope walked out with the hosts in trouble at
32 for two.
Pope made a promising 28 before he was lbw to Pandya.
And to what became the last ball before lunch, England
captain Joe Root was lbw for 19 to an off-cutter from Shami, who also had Jos
Buttler (24) leg before in a stumps return of three for 74 in 19 overs.
Both off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and recalled left-arm
wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav went wicketless, with India having cause to regret
dropping paceman Umesh Yadav.
Woakes was for the most part admirably straight in both
defence and attack, as exemplified by a classic on-drove for four off Pandya.
But he demonstrated his range of shots with vertical bat
flick down to fine leg when Ashwin strayed in direction.