England closed day four of the fourth and final Test against India on 161 for three in their second innings and will take a lead of 165 into the final day of the series.
After India declared behind on 326 for nine, England recovered from the loss of early wickets through Jonathan Trott's unbeaten half-century.
Needing to win the game simply to tie the series, India unsurprisingly declared before lunch and their spinners made inroads with the dismissals of Alastair Cook (13), Nick Compton (34) and Kevin Pietersen (6).
Their progress was thereafter thwarted by Trott, unbeaten on 66 in 153 balls, and his Warwickshire team-mate Ian Bell, who made 24 in 67 balls.
India started the day with their first innings at 297 for eight. On the fourth day of a must-win Test, the first innings was still incomplete and almost everyone expected a hasty declaration from India, but that didn’t happen, as they waited long enough to equalise or even draw close to the English first innings of 330.
In that process the first hour of the day was insanely slow, with only four runs coming off the first 23 minutes. Thereafter they lost the wicket of Pragyan Ojha (3) bowled by Monty Panesar (1-81). Then, India declared, finally, at 326 for nine.
For England, James Anderson was the pick of the attack on a pitch that had nothing in it for the bowlers. He finished with four for 81 while Graeme Swann supported him with three for 76.
The visitors then started their second innings and never really went anywhere with it. For them, the turning point had been Mahendra Singh Dhoni's run-out on the third day, as it made sure India wouldn’t run into a lead. From here on, England only needed to bat out atleast three of the remaining five and a half sessions. They managed the hour before lunch just fine, going into the break at 17 for nought in 13 overs.
It was obvious that England didn’t really want to move on, as a drawn game was much in their interests. Even so, their run-rate was painfully slow, never really crossing the two-run mark. For a Sunday crowd to come in there wasn’t anything happening in the middle, until umpire Kumar Dharamsena wrongly adjudged Cook out for the second time in this match.
Cook was out caught behind off Ashwin, after scoring 13 runs off 93 balls, with one four. At the other end, Compton was going along fine, until he also became a victim of another umpiring howler. This time umpire Rod Tucker failed to detect an inside edge onto the pads off Ojha (1-39) and ruled him out lbw.
It didn’t matter that the ball had been caught at short gully as well. Compton made 34 runs off 135 balls, with one four, putting up 33 runs for the second wicket with Trott.
The latter was the centre of some controversial moments in the day. He first smacked for four a delivery from Ravindra Jadeja that had slipped out and bounced several times before reaching the batsman. Then there was a debate about whether he was out caught behind off Ishant Sharma as the umpire failed to hear the nick, much to the dismay of Indian fielders.
After that, Ashwin (1-34) cautioned him against leaving his crease early or he would be run out. Words were exchanged as India’s desperation became apparent.
In between Kevin Pietersen (6) left a straight delivery from Jadeja (1-27) and like Trott in the first innings, watched the ball knock back his off stump. However, in the end though, Trott and Bell stayed together until stumps, adding 67 runs for the fourth wicket. Trott was unbeaten on 66 and Bell was not out on 24 as the series went to its final day undecided.
Ravichandran Ashwin on India’s tactics and his chat with Trott: "We wanted to get close to England’s total in the morning but it didn’t work out easily. Then when they batted, their run-rate was never high up. If the opposition isn’t looking to score you can’t do much but do the basics right. We have taken six-seven wickets in a session before in this series, so that is what we will be looking at tomorrow morning.
"Well, about that four he hit off Jadeja, you should follow sportsman spirit first and then expect the opposition to follow it. Later I warned him if he could hit that four, I could run him out. He said ‘I could go ahead’. I said ‘I wouldn’t.' We have got him out enough times in the series to get him out again."
James Anderson on England’s tactics and that Trott controversy: "We didn’t really bat slowly. I think Dhoni and Kohli showed yesterday that scoring runs on this pitch aren’t easy. It wasn’t a game plan.
"About that shot, well we saw Dhoni smiling and we don’t think there was anything wrong in it. There are two teams here trying to win a match and the series, so obviously things will get heated in the middle."
© Cricket World 2012
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