Bess stars as England corner India

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Dom Bess. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images for ECB)
Dom Bess. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images for ECB)

England spinner Dom Bess claimed four wickets to leave India struggling to avoid the follow-on despite Rishabh Pant's blazing 91 on day three of the opening Test on Sunday.

India reached 257 for six at stumps in response to England's 578 in Chennai.

Washington Sundar, on 33, and Ravichandran Ashwin, on eight, were batting with an unbroken stand of 32. India need another 122 to avoid the follow-on.

Fast bowler Jofra Archer removed openers Rovit Sharma and Shuman Gill in the morning session and Bess soon took over with his off spin to get key wickets including skipper Virat Kohli for 11.

"It's more about the collective, we've taken six today and it's set up the game nicely," Bess, who returned figures of 4-55, told reporters.

"We've seen it starting to spin and that's only going to get more. We're pretty close to the new ball, we're in a great seat at the moment."

Pant smashed his fourth Test fifty in 40 balls to counter the England bowling but became Bess' fourth victim after he miscued a lofted hit to get caught by Jack Leach at deep cover.

The wicketkeeper-batsman hit nine fours and five sixes, which came against Leach's left-arm spin, in his 88-ball blitz.

Pant, who was one of India's heroes in their Test win in Australia, helped India recover from 73 for four with a 119-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara, who made 73.

Pujara was caught at short mid-wicket with the ball coming off a rebound from the shoulder of the fielder ducking at short leg.

- Kohli's prized scalp -

Bess got Kohli's prized scalp with a ball outside the off stump that spun sharply, and the Indian captain pressed forward only to get an inside edge for a catch at short leg.

"It was (special) and more for the fact of what my process was," said Bess of the big wicket.

"Of course I was looking to get him out but it wasn't about bowling that magic ball, it was about smashing in 10-15 balls in a good area, then something will happen."

The finger spinner struck again in his next over with the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane for one as England skipper Joe Root took a stunning one-handed catch diving towards his left at cover.

"It's his (Bess) first tour to India. He did pretty well if I am honest," Pujara said of the 23-year-old Bess, who is playing his 13th Test since making his debut in 2018.

"The way Ashwin and Washi are batting we can still put up a decent total. We want to achieve our goals as a batting unit rather than focusing on what the opposition is trying to do."

Earlier Archer had Sharma caught behind for six in the fourth over. James Anderson took a low diving catch to cut short a promising start by Shubman Gill, who made 29 off 28 balls, including five boundaries.

England's innings, which resumed on 555-8, ended inside the first hour of play. Paceman Jasprit Bumrah and off-spinner Ashwin took three wickets each.

Root on Saturday became the first player to score a double century in his 100th Test before being dismissed for 218.

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