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India vs England 2014, 3rd Test at Southampton: India’s lacklustre performance, Moeen Ali’s rise as a spinner and other highlights of play on Day 4

Moeen Ali's spell put England in the driver's seat © Getty Images
Moeen Ali’s spell put England in the driver’s seat © Getty Images

England continued to remain in control against India in the ongoing third Test match at Southampton on the fourth day. They set up a huge target of 445 runs against a star-studded Indian batting line-up, and managed to get out as many as four batsmen. Devarchit Varma brings the highlights of the fourth day’s play…

India resumed the fourth day at 323 for eight with MS Dhoni and Mohammed Shami at the crease. The way these two batted on the evening of the third day promised that India will not lose wickets in quick time. But James Anderson, the birthday boy, bounced out both Dhoni and Shami to keep Indian innings to 330, helping England take 239-run lead. When England came onto bat, they did lose a couple of wickets. India managed to dismiss as many as four English batsmen at score of 205, something they couldn’t in the first innings. But in bargain, India ended up giving away far too many runs that too in very less time. Let’s take a look at the highlights from the day:

India of 2014 or India of 2011? Amongst the many reasons why India lost the series back in 2011 was the fact that they failed to control boundaries being scored. In 2011, they leaked so many boundaries in sessions together when England were batting, which used to take the game away from them. This is something that has been observed in this match as well. England kept picking boundaries easily in the first innings and in the second; boundaries came their way at will. India looked mere participant in the game, not trying anything that could stop flow of fours or turn things around.

Moeen Ali, England’s best bowler: Yes, it is true that England have failed to produce a good replacement for Graeme Swann. And it is also true that Moeen Ali is that England bowler in this series who has the best strike-rate. He has been a revelation in this series so far, perhaps because of the Indians underestimating him and always trying to attack, but he has made a point with the wickets that he has taken. In the first innings, he snaffled the dangerous Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, and in the second, it was Cheteshwar Pujara – all top-order batsmen. If nothing, England at least have a quality spinner in the making who will continue to trouble the batsmen. Even those who are from the subcontinent.

James Anderson celebrates 32nd birthday in style: James Anderson hasn’t really been close to his best, but nevertheless, with good bowling performances in spans he has been able to make his presence felt. Just when India were expected to eat the crucial time on the fourth day morning, Anderson bounced out Dhoni and Shami to help England take a big lead. He turned 32 on Wednesday. By this age, Zaheer Khan was already on his way out. But Anderson continues to remain England’s best bowler. He celebrated his day with the 16th five-wicket haul. However, there was couple of chances off his own bowling in the second innings that he missed. Murali Vijay gave a return catch and so did Ajinkya Rahane, and Anderson failed to grab the chances both the times.

Chris Jordan makes his presence felt: England made as many as three changes for the third Test. They got in Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan, but till the first two sessions on the fourth day, it was only Buttler who had proved his selection right. In the final session, Woakes continue to struggle with his line and length and so did Jordan, but the latter was excellent in the first slip while the spinners were on. Jordan took a spectacular catch to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara cheaply, and then took a clean catch to get rid of Dhawan.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)

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