Rory, Dom and Zak. They could be contestants on Love Island. We’ve got to know them all quite well. Rory has silly hair and is on the short side, but he’s very likeable. Dom, who is affable too, is much taller, with sensible hair. Zak is even taller and often looks a bit embarrassed, but he’s everyone’s type on paper. Now, though, the crunch has come, and at least two of them are in danger of being voted off the show.
This is a big day for England’s top three. Burns and Sibley, whose average opening stand since lockdown is just 27, need to turn a promising 25 for 0 into at least 50 and preferably 100, to wipe out India’s lead. Sibley, even on a good day, bats like a crustacean. Lately he’s been a crustacean under general anaesthetic – and after an innings of 18 that was painful to watch, he went and dropped KL Rahul. One more flop and he’ll be carrying the drinks for Haseeb Hameed.
Crawley was one of only four England batsmen who looked good on Wednesday, alongside Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Sam Curran, but he has to convert his confident strokeplay into runs. Since making his name last summer with 267 against Pakistan, he’s been dealing in fractions of that. His biggest Test score since has been 53 (opening, against India, in some style), the next-best 27 (in this match). It feels as if another big one is round the corner. England need it right now.
India are sitting pretty, still 70 runs ahead, which is a lot in a low-scoring Test. So far they’ve done everything better than England – from preparation to reviewing. The weather forecast, for once, is not too bad: just a 10pc chance of rain this morning, rising to 20pc at 3pm and to 50pc in the last hour. The rain will only save England if they save themselves first.