Southampton, Jul 31: England look set to level the five-match series 1-1 after reducing India, who still need 333 runs to win, to 112 for four at stumps on day four of the third cricket Test at The Rose Bowl here Wednesday.
India, chasing 445 runs for victory, lost Murali Vijay (12) to a silly run out. Vijay and his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan (37) went for a dangerous single and Stuart Broad was at hand to hit the stumps directly with an underarm throw. India had barely come to terms with Vijay’s dismissal when Cheteshwar Pujara (2) edged an innocuous Moeen Ali delivery to Chris Jordan at slips.
Dhawan and Delhi teammate Virat Kohli (28) stabilised things for a while with a 51-run stand for the third wicket, giving India some hope. But just as things were looking up for the visitors another part-time spinner, Joe Root, got the better of Dhawan to send him back to the pavilion.
Inexplicably for the Indians, it was Moeen Ali who struck again as Kohli feathered an edge into the waiting hands of wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
Ajinkya Rahane (18 batting) and Rohit Sharma (6) held on to save India more blushes and go into the fifth and final day with six wickets still in hand.
Earlier, England had bowled out India for 330 runs and chose not to apply the follow-on. The hosts then sped to 80 for two in their second outing to extend their lead over the visitors to 319 runs at lunch. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (50) failed to add to his overnight score and was dismissed by an Anderson bouncer.
Shami (5) tried his level best to delay the inevitable but had no answer to the English pacer’s guile and swing. James Anderson recorded his 16th five-wicket haul after taking India’s final two wickets in the morning session. India managed to add just seven more runs to their overnight total before captain Dhoni and Shami were sent packing without much fuss.
England came out all guns blazing in the second innings and smashed the Indian bowlers all over the park to continue their dominance. Sam Robson (13) was the first English casualty in an otherwise near-perfect day.
Cook and Ballance, who had combined so well in the first innings, once again forged a 58-run stand for the second wicket. Ballance, who scored 156 in the first innings, was in punishing mood smashing five fours and a six in his 48-ball stay. Jadeja dismissed Ballance in the last action to take place before lunch. Replays, though, showed that the English batsman was once again unlucky to be given out, like in the first innings.
Aggressive batting by England helped them reach 205 for four declared in the second innings at tea, setting India a 445-run target. Alastair Cook (70 not out) held one end up for England while the rest of the batsmen went gung-ho.
Ballance did the damage before tea, hitting five fours and a six but after lunch Ian Bell (23 off 21) and Joe Root (56 off 41) were the aggressors.
In fairness, the English captain wasn’t sluggish either scoring his runs at a strike rate of 61.40. Barring debutant Pankaj Singh, who is yet to pick his maiden wicket, all the other frontline Indian bowlers went for more than four runs per over. The English batsmen were especially severe on Bhuvneshwar Kumar (5.90), Mohammed Shami (6.00) and Rohit Sharma (6.40).
Jadeja, though, did manage to take three wickets while Bhuvneshwar chipped in with one.