LONDON: India were on the brink of just their second Test victory at Lord’s as Alastair Cook’s latest failure with the bat prolonged the debate about his future as England captain.
England were 105 for four
at stumps on the fourth day yesterday, needing a further 214
runs to reach the winning target of 319.
But the odds were on India going 1-0 up in this five-match series, after last week’s draw at Trent Bridge, and recording their second victory in 17 Tests at Lord’s following their lone win back in 1986.
Joe Root was 14 not out and Moeen Ali 15 not out at the close, the pair having come together after England lost three wickets for two runs in collapsing to 72 for four.
Left-handed opener Cook
fell for just 22 to make it 27 innings since he had scored the last of his England record 25 hundreds.
His exit came shortly after Ian Bell, the other experienced batsman in England’s top order,
had been dismissed for one — his 19th innings without a Test century.
Fast-medium bowler Ishant Sharma removed both Bell and Cook in a burst of two wickets for no runs in seven balls.
At lunch, India were 267 for seven, a lead of 243.
Three quick wickets early in the second session and England would have been on course to end their run of nine Tests without a win.
But the first 10 overs after lunch saw Ravindra Jadeja and seamer Bhuvneswhwar Kumar score 66 runs.
Jadeja made a dashing 68 while tailender Kumar was last man out for 52 — his third fifty in four innings this series after his Test-best six for 82 in England’s first innings.
His innings saw Kumar join two of cricket’s greatest all-rounders in Ian Botham (England) and Richard Hadlee (New Zealand) as only the third player to have both scored a fifty and taken five wickets in successive Tests.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja struck with his first ball yesterday when he had Australia-born opener Sam Robson lbw.
Cook and fellow left-hander Gary Ballance added 58 for the second wicket.
But Ballance, who made 110 in the first innings, was caught behind off Mohammed Shami to leave England 70 for two.
Bell did not last long, clean bowled off stump by a Sharma delivery that kept a touch low.
Then Cook, after more than two hours at the crease, fell in familiar fashion when Sharma had him pushing out at a good length ball, with wicketkeeper Dhoni taking the catch.
Cook had now scored a mere 115 runs in seven Tests innings at home to Sri Lanka and India so far this season.
Ali, on 11, survived a confident lbw appeal from Jadeja and was dropped of the spinner on 15 when Dhoni failed to grasp a chance under the Lord’s floodlights.
India resumed yesterday in overcast conditions on 169
for four, with opener Murali Vijay 59 not out and Dhoni unbeaten on 12.
After Dhoni fell for a laboured 19, it was not long before James Anderson was bowling to Jadeja, with both players facing a possible ban as a result of their alleged confrontation in the Trent Bridge pavilion last week.
Vijay, in sight of a second
hundred of the series following his 146 in Nottingham, fell for 95 when he flicked an Anderson delivery to wicketkeeper Matt Prior after more than six hours at the crease
However, the swashbuckling Jadeja drove both Broad and Anderson back over his head for four while Kumar made England pay for Root dropping him on two before India were eventually bowled out for 342. REUTERS