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India tour of England 2014: A lead less than hundred may open up many possibilities

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Joe Root (Right) along with James Anderson held fort for England on Day three © Getty Images

 

A flurry of wickets as witnessed after lunch on the last two days can put the pressure back on India, writes Arunabha Sengupta

The fourth day has dawned sunny and bright in Nottingham as the Test match is poised at an interesting juncture. It is as if the clouds have conspired to hover, albeit without menace, only when England is at the wicket.

Having said that, there may still be a fair amount of sting in the last bit of the English tail. As his knock has progressed, Joe Root has looked more and more assured and has advanced to a fighting 78. While Jimmy Anderson chanced his arm with a fair degree of abandon yesterday, he will surely try to stick around for the young Yorkshireman to notch up a well-deserved hundred.

Discussions around the reverse sweep Anderson executed immediately on his arrival at the crease brought a smile on Root’s face yesterday evening, but he stressed that it showed how much the England spearhead has worked on his batting and how much he enjoys it. Besides, the curious nature of the pitch may have seen several flurries of wickets, but it seems to have been laid specifically for the No 11s.

The more the English last wicket stand eats into the Indian lead the trickier the situation may get for MS Dhoni’s men. A lead less than hundred with fair distance to go in a Test match can lead to a myriad situations, not all of them favourable. A few early wickets can put the pressure back on the visitors.

Wickets, when they have fallen in this match, have been knocked down in packets of several – especially in the post-lunch period, and if there are a few today as well, England may well fancy their chances. A big last wicket stand always lends impetus to the team’s efforts and it is more than likely that Stuart Broad and Anderson will come charging in after their commendable batting performances.

The other thing that may work against India is the uncertainties about the ideal target to set for the hosts, the number of overs required to bowl them out, the best time for declaration and the degree of aggression they need to adopt on the slow track to go for a win. It will indeed be very interesting to see how they go about the innings, and the way the stroke players of the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli shape up will have a lot of say in the remaining course of the match.

The taxi driver who brought the writer to the stadium confidently wagered on a draw. Several of the constellation of experts in the media centre agree with his humble opinion, whereas some are not so keen to call it as yet. As Ishant Sharma repeated three times during the press conference yesterday evening, cricket can be a funny game.

All in all, it promises to be an absorbing day’s play once again.

Catch all the stories from India’s tour of England 2014 here

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry.He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

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