Third Test: England take four wickets after setting India 445 to win
Last Updated: 31/07/14 1:30pm
England moved within six wickets of levelling the Investec series against India after setting the tourists 445 to win and reducing them to 112-4 on a one-sided fourth day at the Ageas Bowl.
James Anderson’s five-wicket haul at the start of day four gave England the chance of enforcing the follow-on, an option they rejected as Alastair Cook opted to give his bowlers a well-earned rest.
The England skipper and Joe Root then added breezy half-centuries before declaring on 205-4 and Moeen Ali (2-33) and Root (1-5) then spun England to a commanding position at stumps.
Ali removed Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in the evening session and Root accounted for Shikhar Dhawan, but it was Stuart Broad’s brilliant run-out to remove Murali Vijay which got England going after tea.
Broad swooped and threw down the stumps to remove Vijay, India's lynchpin so far in the series and they will now be pinning their hopes on Ajinkya Rahane (18 not out) and Rohit Sharma (6no), who was dropped late in the day by Anderson off his own bowling, to dig in on the final day.
India were able to add just seven runs to their overnight score of 323-8 in the morning session, with birthday boy Anderson taking two quick wickets to finish with 5-53.
The 32-year-old crucially had India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni caught behind by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler without adding to his overnight 50 in the third over of the morning.
Mohammed Shami was then caught behind in the Lancashire seamer's next over for five, leaving the tourists trailing by 239 after England's first-innings 569-7 declared. Both wickets came from short deliveries, giving Anderson his 16th five-for in his Test career.
The hosts elected not to ask India to have another go with the bat.
While captain Cook continued his return to form with 70 not out from 114 deliveries, Root needed just 41 balls for his 56 runs before becoming the third and final wicket for spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
Sam Robson was the first man to go in their second innings, the opener making 13 before being comfortably caught at first slip by Dhawan after pushing at an outswinger from Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Gary Ballance was unfortunate to fall just before the lunch break, the left-hander given out caught at short leg for 38 off the bowling of left-arm spinner Jadeja.
The Yorkshire batsman had hit a six and five fours to dominate a second-wicket stand of 58 before falling victim to a second bad decision in the match; replays showed there was no bat involved as the ball looped off his pad to Pujara.
Ian Bell was able to bat in his usual position in the order after x-rays showed on Tuesday he had not broken his thumb taking an awkward one on the bounce in the slips, and he quickly lifted the pace in a shortened afternoon session that saw England add 125 runs.
Yet while he perished just as he was getting going, bowled for 23 trying to sweep Jadeja out of the rough, Root blazed a quick-fire half-century that included nine boundaries. When he was bowled backing away to hit Jadeja through the off-side, his skipper decided enough was enough and called a halt to proceedings.
India were set a new world record if they are to double their lead in the series but their hopes of doing so were dented with four wickets in the evening session.
Broad removed Vijay (12) with an underarm direct-hit running in from square-leg in the 12th over, the first of two wickets in seven balls.
Ali then induced an edge from Pujara (2) and Chris Jordan, wicketless in his comeback Test so far, produced a fine one-handed catch diving to his right at slip.
With the ball gripping and spinning, Cook brought Root into the attack and the move paid dividends when he made Dhawan (37) his fourth Test scalp, Jordan again catching well at slip.
England's day got better when Kohli, driving loosely when on 28, edged Ali through to Buttler but Rahane's caught-and-bowled reprieve left Anderson rueing a late and rare miss with a first win in 11 Tests in sight.