Southampton – James Anderson marked his 32nd birthday with two quick wickets as England maintained their dominant position in the third Test against India at Southampton on Wednesday.
England in their second innings were 80 for two, a lead of 319 runs, at lunch on the fourth day.
England captain Alastair Cook, who had returned to form in the first innings with 95, was 29 not out.
But Gary Ballance, who made a Test-best 156 in a total of 569 for seven declared, was unfortunate to be given out for 38 to what became the last ball before lunch.
Earlier, India resumed on 323 for eight, with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni unbeaten on 50.
But Anderson took two wickets for one run in six balls as India were bowled out for 330, a first-innings deficit of 239 runs.
Anderson had Dhoni, top-edging a pull, caught behind for his overnight score by debutant wicketkeeper Jos Buttler before the same combination saw off Mohammed Shami (five).
Lancashire paceman Anderson finished with figures of five for 53 in 26.1 overs – the 16th time in 97 Tests he had taken five wickets in an innings.
On Tuesday, Anderson and Stuart Broad (three for 66) become only the third pace pair after Pakistan’s Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram and West Indies’ Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh to have 500 Test wickets between them.
Their combined return was the latest example in this match of England’s experienced players coming to the fore after Ian Bell top-scored with 167 in the first innings.
So well did Anderson and Broad bowl it masked the lack of penetration from England’s other two seamers, with the recalled duo of the wayward Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes both wicketless.
Their form, allied to a desire not to bowl Anderson and Broad, carrying a knee injury, “into the ground”, may well have influenced Cook’s decision not to enforce the follow-on, with rest periods for bowlers at a premium in a five-Test series condensed into just 42 days.
England, without a win in their past 10 Tests and 1-0 down after India’s 95-run win at Lord’s, wanted quick runs as Cook and Sam Robson opened the innings.
But Australia-born Robson (13) fell in worryingly familiar fashion when he nicked a fine Bhuvneshwar Kumar ball that cut away to Shikhar Dhawan at first slip.
However, Ballance – again showing good judgement of the match situation Ä struck three fours in four balls, driving both Kumar and Shami down the ground.
Zimbabwe-born Ballance then lofted spinner Rohit Sharma high over long-off for six as he and fellow left-hander Cook posted a fifty stand in just 65 balls.
But Ballance’s enterprising knock ended when he was given out caught at short leg off left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
Replays showed that while the ball had hit his pad and thigh, it had missed Ballance’s glove.
But with no Decision Review System this series because of Indian objections, England could not challenge South African umpire Marais Erasmus’s verdict. – Sapa-AFP