England v India: Hosts build big lead to close in on series win
Last Updated: 17/08/14 12:06pm
England moved closer to a series win against India after ending day two of the fifth Test at the Kia Oval on 385-7 and with a first-innings lead of 237.
Responding to India’s paltry 148, the hosts drove their advantage home thanks to an unbeaten 92 from Joe Root and half-centuries from Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance.
England, 2-1 up in the five-match series, need only to avoid defeat to wrap up overall victory. India’s hopes of forcing a positive result in their favour are already extremely slim.
Root, who has scored a fifty in every match in the series, will start day three alongside Chris Jordan (19 not out) and with his fifth Test century firmly in his sights.
The situation may have been even rosier for the home side had they not lost four wickets for 38 runs during a middle-order collapse in the afternoon session, but such a commanding lead will leave Cook’s side hugely confident of recording a third straight win.
England started play on 62-0 but lost their first wicket of the innings in the second over of the day when Sam Robson (37) was bowled by Varun Aaron after being decieved by movement in the air.
Cook and Ballance then kicked on and by lunch the first-innings scores were level with England still having nine wickets remaining.
Cook (79) looked assured while passing the fifty mark before lunch but after the interval he began to struggle, being dropped twice at first slip on 65 and 70.
His wait for a Test century was extended to 31 innings as Murali Vijay, who had been responsible for one of the drops, held a low chance off Aaron to end the second-wicket stand on 125.
Ballance (64) had passed his sixth fifty in 11 attempts but was prevented from notching another hundred when he prodded a length ball from Ravi Ashwin straight into the hands of silly point off the face of the bat.
India’s somewhat unexpected spell of success continued when Ian Bell (7) was caught behind, while Moeen Ali made just 14 before dragging Ashwin onto his stumps.
It was therefore over to Root and Jos Buttler to steady the ship, the duo sharing a fruitful partnership of 80 which stretched well into the evening session.
It was ended when Buttler, whose 45 included nine fours, flicked Ishant Sharma to short midwicket, with Chris Woakes following for a duck in the next over after being strangled down the leg side by Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Root continued to hold firm, steadily reaching the half-century mark before accelerating his scoring rate with a string of fluent boundaries.
He was moving at such a pace that it looked like he could make it into three figures before the close of play, but his charge was halted eight runs short when the umpires called stumps.