England’s James Anderson celebrates taking the wicket of India’s Cheteshwar Pujara. (Reuters)
SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters): England were closing in on a series victory as they reduced India to 46-3 at lunch on the fourth day of the fourth test on Sunday after setting the visitors 245 for victory.
India wrapped up England’s second innings for the addition of only 11 runs to leave an absorbing test balanced on a knife edge but a superb opening spell by James Anderson and Stuart Broad left their hopes in tatters.
It could have been even worse for India with captain Virat Kohli surviving an England review after being rapped on the pads by Moeen Ali but he remained unbeaten on 10 with India needing a further 199 for victory.
Ajinkya Rahane was 13 not out.
Only three times have India scored 200 plus in their second innings to win a test match outside Asia and on a dry and wearing pitch offering help to seam and spin bowling, logic suggested England were favourites as India’s openers walked out to the crease under clear blue skies.
It took only until the first ball of the third over to underline just how difficult their task was when a full-length Broad delivery kept low and flattened KL Rahul’s off stump.
Anderson then sent Cheteshwar Pujara, whose century helped India post a small first-innings lead, back to the pavilion after rapping him on the back thigh with an inswinger.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan struck three boundaries but never looked comfortable against England’s high-calibre seamers and he fell for 17 in Anderson’s next over, thick-edging to Ben Stokes at gully after being squared up by a beauty.
Moeen Ali did not have to wait long to get his hands on the ball and he thought he had captured the key wicket of Kohli in his third over when he struck him on the knee roll but umpire Kumar Dharmasena said not out.
England reviewed and looked confident but Kohli was saved by a possible inside edge, although it looked inconclusive.
Rahane also used up a life when he was given out lbw to Sam Curran in the last over before lunch but was spared on review as India limped into the interval without further loss.
Earlier Broad fell on the first ball of the day, tickling behind off Mohammed Shami who had also taken a wicket with the last ball of the previous day’s play.
Curran was run out trying to pinch a second run off a leg bye.
England lead the series 2-1 with one match to follow at the Oval starting next week.