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By Shiamak Unwalla
Jul 30, 2014
India were tottering at 112 for four against England on Day Four of the third Test at Southampton, needing 333 runs to win. More importantly, the visitors have just six wickets to protect. England continued their absolute dominance of the Indians, but will be hoping to see the back of the two overnight batsmen, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, early tomorrow morning.
Shikhar Dhawan started the innings with a very positive drive through covers for four, but soon went into a defensive shell. Vijay continued where he left off from the first innings, looking just a little bit disinterested in proceedings. He was soon back in the pavilion after failing to lazily running through for a quick single.
New man Cheteshwar Pujara came in to bat with the reputation of being an exemplary fourth innings batsman, and a point to prove in the series. Unfortunately for him, he received a very good off-break from Moeen Ali that he snicked to Chris Jordan — who took a fine catch — at slip.
Dhawan got to 37 — his highest score this series — before playing down the wrong line off the gentle part-time tweaker Joe Root. The resultant edge was pocketed by the ever-reliable Jordan, as India sunk further. By now, the warning bells were already running.
When Virat Kohli came in, he immediately gave the impression that he was batting in a different zone; the leaves were assured, the drives were sublime and the intent positive. Back-to-back boundaries off Jordan were followed by long spells of leaves and blocks. However, he too fell to the guile of Moeen, edging while trying to defend.
Rohit and Rahane took India to stumps without suffering another wicket. Rohit looked particularly vulnerable, playing and missing repeatedly. Rahane looked serene, but the way things have happened in this match, no Indian batsman has ever truly looked in. The Mumbai duo will have to dig deep if India are to have any hope of surviving Day Five with a draw.
Earlier, England declared at 205 for four, leading by 444 runs. Alastair Cook scored an unbeaten 70, while Joe Root (56) and Gary Ballance (38) helped boost the run-rate after England resumed after lunch at 80 for two.
Just as Bell looked like he was about to go ballistic, he was cleaned up by Jadeja — bowled ’round the legs — while sweeping. Joe Root came in and kept up the tempo. He played within himself, but looked to score runs off every opportunity he got. Cook went on to complete his second fifty of the match.
Meanwhile, Joe Root showed his flamboyant side with a stroke-filled 41-ball 56. The right-hander was especially severe on Bhuvneshwar Kumar, hitting him for three boundaries in an over to bring up his half-century. Earlier, the visitors were bowled out for 330, having resumed the day at a precarious 323 for eight.
England 569 for 7 decl. (Alastair Cook 95, Gary Ballance 156, Ian Bell 167; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3 for 101, Ravindra Jadeja 2 for 153) and 205 for 4 (Alastair Cook 70*, Joe Root 56; Ravindra Jadeja 3 for 52) lead India 330 (Ajinkya Rahane 54, MS Dhoni 50; James Anderson 5 for 53, Stuart Broad 3 for 61, Moeen Ali 2 for 62) and 112/4 (Shikhar Dhawan 37; Moeen Ali 2 for 33) by 333 runs.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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