England lead second Test by 250 runs after finishing Day 3 on Saturday on 357-6
Woakes and Bairstow double act leaves India hoping for rain to save them at Lord's
Chris Woakes hit his maiden century to put England in a commanding position of the second Test and leave India hoping that wet weather will save them from defeat.
Woakes hit an unbeaten 120 as he and Jonny Bairstow rescued England with a stand of 189 for the sixth wicket during Saturday’s third day of the rain-hit match.
Bad light brought play to a close early with England on 357-7, a lead of 250 after India had been bowled out for just 107 on Friday after losing the toss.
Woakes, speaking about his maiden Test century, told Sky Sports Cricket: “It’s hard to put into words I suppose. I didn’t have that on my radar at the start of the day, to be honest.
“It’s an incredible feeling to raise your bat at Lord’s, and obviously to be on that honours board and put the team in a good position, it’s fantastic.
“I didn’t know what to do at three figures. It’s been a little while since I’ve reached it but (to do it) in a Test match at Lord’s is a unique feeling, something that will stay with me forever.”
Rain is forecast for Sunday’s fourth day, which could limit the amount of time spent on the field, and there is also a threat of showers for Monday’s final day.
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Given that situation it was perhaps surprising that England chose not to declare after Woakes had made his hundred, and Bairstow had fallen seven runs short of his, and put India in to face some overs last night.
But Woakes added he and his teammates believed they still were well set to win and go 2-0 up in the five-match series.
Asked if he thought captain Joe Root should have declared, the Warwickshire all-rounder said: “Potentially but I think we would want a few more.
“We do need to take into consideration the forecast but that isn’t always accurate. So I think we will want a few more and then if the conditions are right for us, happy days.”
England were never in danger of handing the initiative right back to India after bowling them out for 107, but it was thanks only to Woakes and Bairstow that they wrested it away to a position of dominance.
Four lbws featured in the first five dismissals, two through an element of batsman error and two distinctly less so.
Keaton Jennings was the first, losing his bearings to Mohammed Shami’s inswing to be hit right in front.
As with Ollie Pope later, when Joe Root indulged the debutant with an unwise review, Alastair Cook allowed his opening partner to request a DRS procedure which merely confirmed what had already seemed evident.
Cook could not be blamed in the next over, however, when Ishant Sharma had him caught behind with an outstanding delivery which was slanted up the slope from round the wicket but jagged away.
Two wickets had fallen for four runs, before Root and Pope dug in to add another 45.
The captain was by far the less convincing, but Pope fell first when Hardik Pandya moved one up the slope at him.
Root followed him back to the final ball of the morning, another struck in front by one from Shami that kept low and did plenty into him off the pitch.
Jos Buttler’s lbw departure after lunch, India’s only success of the afternoon, was of his own making as his tactical shuffle towards Shami (three for 74) also took him across the crease and into trouble.
At that point England were teetering at 131-5, but Woakes and Bairstow took the game from India with some quick scoring.
Bairstow was especially adept against spin, altering the length and moment of impact with exaggerated foot movement forward or back.
Woakes, meanwhile, looked to be aggressive where possible and went after anything with width.
It was a method which allowed him the distinction of out-scoring even the counter-attacking Bairstow, on his way to a 129-ball hundred which contained 15 fours.
Soon afterwards, the Yorkshireman fell short of what would have been his sixth Test hundred when he was caught behind by a diving Dinesh Karthik as he tried to carve off-side runs off Pandya.
But he could be consoled by the strong position he has helped put his side in.