As if their insipid batting performance wasn’t bad enough, England gifted Virat Kohli a century with a bizarre blunder.
The India captain’s second century of the series strengthened his side’s iron grip on the third Test against England at Trent Bridge on Monday.
Kohli, who fell for 97 in India’s first innings, top-scored with 103 as the tourists, looking to bounce back from 2-0 down in a five-match contest, piled up a total of 7-352 declared.
However England should have had Kohli out in the 90s for the second-straight innings.
The skipper edged a Jimmy Anderson ball to Keaton Jennings at gully, but the youngster inexplicably saw the ball miss his hands and go through his legs on the full for four.
The embarrassing miss gifted Kohli a century and continued England’s misery after they suffered a shocking collapse to be bowled out within a single session on Sunday.
England need a mammoth 521 for victory, albeit with more than two days to get the runs.
But no side have made more to win in the fourth innings of a Test than the West Indies’ 7-418 against Australia at St John’s, Antigua, in 2003.
Kohli’s declaration left England with an awkward nine overs in which to bat.
But Alastair Cook (nine not out) and Jennings (13 not out) took them to a close score of 23 without loss.
India resumed Monday on 2-124, already 292 runs in front, with Cheteshwar Pujara 33 not out and Kohli unbeaten on eight.
They could dictate terms after skittling England out for 161, with paceman Hardik Pandya taking a stunning 5-28 in six overs.
As well as batting collapses, another longstanding problem for England has been their catching and they floored their fifth chance this match when second slip Jos Buttler, a wicket-keeper by trade, grassed a left-handed opportunity when Pujara, on 40, edged Anderson.
‘Best in the world’
Kohli was not at his most fluent but this was an ideal innings given India’s situation and an edged four off Chris Woakes, his 10th boundary in 191 balls during nearly five hours at the crease, saw the star batsman to a 23rd Test hundred.
It was also Kohli’s second in three matches after he made 149 — his maiden Test century in England — in the series-opener at Edgbaston.
“You would be hard-pressed to argue against him being seen as the best player in the world at the moment,” said England assistant coach Paul Farbrace.
“He’s a high-quality player, and has shown he’s learnt a lot on this tour alone.”
Kohli was out shortly afterwards, lbw to Woakes after missing a legside flick against the all-rounder.
Pandya, now starring with the bat, extended India’s lead to 500 with a straight six off leg-spinner Adil Rashid and he had made a run-a-ball 52 not out when Kohli finally called a halt.