England on Sunday appeared to be inching closer to achieving its dream of a historic series victory against India on Indian soil after nearly three decades, with their middle order batsmen digging in to keep host team bowlers at bay, while at the same time adding crucial runs in their second innings.
At the close of play on the fourth day of the Nagpur Test, England in their second innings had scored 161 for the loss of three wickets, and an overal lead of 165. Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell were unbeaten on 66 and 24 respectively at the close of play. With a day remaining in the match, India will have to indulge in some swashbuckling tactics, both in the bowling and batting departments, to achieve a much needed victory to ensure a drawn series.
Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Ravindra Jadeja snared a wicket each.
Earlier, after India had allowed England to gain a four-run lead by declaring at 326 for the loss of nine wickets, the visitors lost their openers during the afternoon session of play. By tea, they had built a labourious lead of 85.
Opener Alastair Cook was the first England wicket to fall and he was followed by Nick Compton, who fell on the stroke of the tea interval, LBW to P.Ojha.
Chances of a result in favour of India are receding with England having only have one aim in mind - to keep a hold on their precious 2-1 series lead. A draw seems inevitable.
Cook and Compton ensured there were no early alarms as they cautiously reached lunch. Compton struck the day''s first boundary, five minutes before the break, when he edged a very full delivery from R Ashwin to third man. Cook had reached 5 from 78 balls before finding the rope with a cover drive from another very full ball.
For the second time in the match, Cook was removed through an umpiring error from Kumar Dharmasena when he played forward to Ashwin and the ball spun past the outside edge. There was a strong appeal, and there was a noise, but replays confirmed that Cook''s bat had struck the ground and he had missed the ball. It left Cook with a match tally off 14 off 121 balls, but it did nothing to dilute the epic nature of his series which ended with 562 runs.
Compton''s solidity alongside Cook has been one of the major plusses to come out of this series. His defence had been firm throughout the session but in the final over before tea he was given lbw to Pragyan Ojha. Replays suggested an inside edge but the ball was also caught in the gully so the presence of DRS would only have changed the mode of dismissal.
Kevin Pietersen was bowled by Ravinder Jadeja after choosing to leave a ball that was pitched just outside the off-stump. The ball, however, turned sufficiently to push the off peg back. Pietersen scored six of 30 deliveries
One of more interesting moments of the day involved Jonathan Trott. A delivery from Ravindra Jadeja slipped out of the spinner''s hand, during the delivery action, and lobbed towards the on-side. Trott, as was completely within his rights, skipped towards the ball then smacked it to the square-leg boundary to bring smiles from both sides.
England were quite happy to let India dawdle. It quickly became clear that they weren''t trying too hard to take the remaining two wickets, content to allow India to prod and poke around to take time out of the game. (ANI)