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Lord's Test delicately poised as India take 145-run lead

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Murali Vijay hit a patient, unbeaten fifty as he helped India post 169-4 at stumps on day three of the second test at Lord’s. The visitors bundled England out for 319 earlier in the day with Bhuvneshwar Kumar picking up 6 wickets.

England started positively from their overnight score of 219-6 as Liam Plunkett and Matt Prior took to the crease to wipe out their first innings deficit. Prior glanced Shami to the leg-side boundary before Plunkett punched one through the covers for four as the Indians leaked boundaries in the first hour of the day. Poor light soon became a factor as the Lord’s had its floodlights lit, but the batsmen seemed unmoved as Plunkett stylishly took Ishant for two consecutive boundaries as he and Prior added 51 for the 7th wicket.

Prior gracefully sent Shami down the ground for four below falling on the next delivery as his attempted pull off a short ball was take in the slip cordon. Bhuvneshwar Kumar then struck twice in one over to pull India back into the session. Kumar snuck through Ben Stokes’ defence for nought to earn a second 5-wicket haul in the series and followed it up with the wicket of Stuart Broad two balls later as England still trailed by 15, with just the one wicket remaining.

Plunkett however brought up his half century as he and James Anderson added 39 for the last wicket to take their side to a lead of 24. Some drama followed when Ravindra Jadeja picked up the wicket of Anderson, the batsman ambitiously attempting a reverse sweep only to be taken at slips, as England were bundled out for 319.

Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay played out the three overs before lunch, following which they knocked off the deficit once play resumed. Dhawan looked a tad streaky with his strokes but settled in well with Vijay playing really cautiously his end. Dhawan seemed set for a big score today but threw his wicket instead as he smashed a short and wide ball from Stokes straight to point for 31.

Cheteshwar Pujara perfectly placed a well-timed boundary through the covers to get going before sending Plunkett for two more gorgeous boundaries in one over. English bowlers soon went a little flat despite keep a check on runs, especially at Vijay’s end as the Indians welcomed the tea break with their noses in front with a lead of 60.

Pujara and Vijay carried on steadily after tea, adding 78 for the second wicket as India crept past the 100-run mark. Plunkett, who was looking far more impressive from his first innings, soon turned the game on it’s head as he dismissed Pujara and Kohli in consecutive deliveries. Pujara edged an inviting delivery outside off while Kohli misjudged the one coming in as he shouldered arms to leave his stumps exposed. Ajinkya Rahane, centurion from first innings, was unlucky to be given caught behind of rising delivery from Stuart Broad that only managed to make contact with his arm guide.

MS Dhoni walked in to bat at 123-4 and immediately looked to calm proceedings as he took a blow on the arm off Broad. Vijay, who suddenly seemed vital to India’s chances, soon reached his rathe patient half century off 162 balls as he took consecutive boundaries of James Anderson while Dhoni chose to leave the ball early on at his end as he survived a few close calls. The two batsmen countered the English bowlers and took India through to stumps with the lead at 145. Vijay was unbeaten on 59 while Dhoni reached 12.

With the game evenly balanced, the morning session tomorrow could be crucial in deciding which of the two teams get their noses in front. India will be hoping Vijay kicks on and gets a big one tomorrow while Alastair Cook would be wary of India getting anywhere close to that 220-run lead.

Mini Scorecard:

India, 1st Innings, 295 all out (91.4 overs, 3.21 rpo)

A Rahane 103(154)  J Anderson 4-60 (23)

B Kumar 36 (84)  S Broad 2-79 (22)

England, 1st Innings, 319 all out (105.5 overs, 3.01 rpo)

G Ballance 110 (203) B Kumar 6-482 (31)

L Plunkett 55 (79) R Jadeja 2-46 (18.5)

India, 2nd Innings, 169-4 (63 overs, 2.68 rpo)

M Vijay 59 (190)   L Plunkett 2-24 (12)

C Pujara 43 (83)  B Stokes 1-35 (13)