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India on the verge of a rare Test win at Lord’s

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India took control of the Lord’s test as they forced England into a wobbly situation at 105-4 on day 4 after posting a target of 319 for the hosts to get in over four sessions. Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar shone with the bat as India were helped to a second innings total of 342 before their bowlers bowled with intent and discipline.

England conceded 12 runs in the opening over of the day through Stuart Broad as Murali Vijay and MS Dhoni looked to build on an overnight lead of 141 runs. Vijay adapted quickly as he looked his usual defensive self from the previous day. Dhoni looked more sedate at his end as he chose to support the partnership that slowly went past 50. Vijay, though cautious, made sure to punish the bad balls as India went past the 200-run mark.

The Indian batsmen saw off the nervy first hour but the English stormed back with two quick wickets. Liam Plunkett struck as he removed the Indian captain caught in the slips for 19 runs. Stuart Binny then succumbed to some rather ambitious intent on his part as he skied one off Moeen Ali, only to be caught by Alastair Cook, who took the catch running backwards, for nought. Ravindra Jadeja got off to a quick start but there was disappointment for Murali Vijay, who fell five runs short of yet another hard-fought century as he was caught behind off Anderson.

India thus felt the heat, with just the 3 wickets left and the lead only just past 200. Jadeja sought to play his natural game as he drilled a boundary off Anderson through the covers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was given a let-off by Joe Root at fourth slip, a cross he was made to bare as Kumar lanced one through cover point. Jadeja drove Broad down the ground for four before aggressively pulling him to deep mid-wicket as India started to pick up important runs at a good pace.

Jadeja brought up his first test fifty off just 42 balls after lunch as India soon felt some relief. Anderson suffered at the hands of the duo, going to the fence thrice in one over as India soon crossed the 300-run mark. Kumar rode on some luck, with streaky runs through the slips in the midst of some delightful strokes before Ben Stokes ended the 99 run partnership as Jadeja skied one over the slip cordon, with Cook taking another brilliant catch whilst running back. Jadeja walked back for a 57-bal 68 as India added 64 runs to their lead, that was already past 300, inside 10 overs.

Ali had Mohammed Shami caught behind for a duck before Kumar drove a length ball straight back over Stokes’ head for a boundary to reach his third fifty in four innings. Stokes finally dismissed Kumar for 52 as India ended with a lead of 318 runs.

England came out to face the music for a short spell before tea, and Alastair Cook got going as he powered the second ball he faced to the boundary off Shami. Sam Robson flicked one off his pads to get going at his end as England seemed to have started positively. Dhoni introduced Jadeja into the attack early just before tea and the crafty spinner struck with his first ball, trapping Robson plumb in front of wicket for 7.

Gary Ballance and Cook steadied England after tea as the duo added 58 for the second wicket, partly getting the runs through edges and nervy batting as India probed away. Bad light soon forced the remainder of the day to be played under floodlights. Cook appeared to have rubbed off his woeful form of late with some solid defence and concentration.

Shami, who looked in good rhythm early on, returned for another spell and soon had Ballance poking at one outside off stump, feeding Dhoni an easy catch. Ishant continued in the next over and knocked over Ian Bell’s off stump. Though the ball kept a touch low, the line and length was just perfect, and Bell had to walk back for 1.

Sharma returned to send back the big fish, Alastair Cook, for 22 as England found themselves in a spot of bother at 72-4.

Moeen Ali was off and running first ball with a punch through square as he and Joe Root attempted a rescue. Root got off the mark with a punch through covers as he and Ali took England past 100. Ali was fortunate to still be around at the close of play as he survived a close leg before appeal off Jadeja before Dhoni grassed a tough chance off the same bowler. Shikhar Dhawan bowled an interesting last over, with Ali surviving another close leg before appeal as England finished on 105-4 at stumps.

India are just 6 wickets away from a rare overseas win and will be hoping their bowlers continue the intensity on the fifth and final day tomorrow. England on the other hand will be hoping either of their remaining batsmen gets a big one to knock off the remaining 214 runs required and take them to their first win in 10 games.

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, 342 all out (103.1 overs, 3.31 rpo)

M Vijay 95 (247)   L Plunkett 3-65 (22)

R Jadeja 68 (57)  B Stokes 3-51 (18.1)

England, 2nd Innings-stumps, 105-4 (46 overs, 2.28 rpo)

G Ballance 27 (59) I Sharma 2-13 (10)

A Cook 22 (93) R Jadeja 1-32 (16)