YORKSHIRE’S Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes showed more of the “fight” England’s coaches were calling for in a much-needed century stand against India on the third morning of the second Test.
Assistant coach Paul Farbrace criticised a lack of resilience after the tourists stumbled to 80 for five the previous evening in reply to 455 at Vizag.
He absolved the sixth-wicket pair, who had batted through much of the final hour to limit the damage - and they were due more praise for a partnership of 110 in a lunchtime 191 for six.
Yet after Bairstow was bowled aiming across a full ball from Umesh Yadav just before the end of the session, England still faced a mighty task to escape defeat here and go to Mohali next week still all square with three to play.
Stokes (55no) and Bairstow (53) had at least revived some hope, maybe even belief, that England had it in them to make India work hard for their success.
Stokes was cashing in on his uncanny piece of luck on Friday evening, ‘bowled’ for three by Jayant Yadav when the ball brushed the off bail but failed to dislodge it.
On the resumption Virat Kohli deployed a spin-pace combination through the first hour, in which England suffered no alarms.
Bairstow’s only moment of concern came before he took strike, when he stumbled as he skipped out to bat and appeared to twist an ankle.
Once in the middle, this year’s leading Test runscorer was soon walking and batting soundly.
His and Stokes’ stand had already almost doubled the England total by the time India turned again to spin at both ends.
They had turn and a little variable bounce on their side, but nothing horribly untoward as Stokes reached his 108-ball fifty and Bairstow followed from 137 deliveries shortly afterwards.
The century partnership, this pair’s third of a prolific year, also came up with the same Bairstow boundary - a thick edge to third-man off Ravindra Jadeja.
Bairstow’s departure, however, was a reminder of the perilous position in which England have found themselves - still more than 250 runs adrift with little recognised batting to come.
:: England were expecting to discover the results of scans on Stuart Broad’s injured right foot by late afternoon local time.