India eye Lord’s triumph

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iol spt july21 Sharma-Bell bowled Getty Images India were on the brink of just their second Test win at Lord's having restricted England to 105-5 at stumps Sunday. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

London – India were on the brink of just their second Test win at Lord's as Alastair Cook's latest failure with the bat prolonged the debate about his future as England captain.

England were 105 for four at stumps on Sunday's fourth day, needing a further 214 runs to reach their victory target of 319.

But the odds were on India going 1-0 up in this five-match series, after last week's draw at Trent Bridge, and recording only their second victory in 17 Tests at Lord's following a lone win back in 1986.

Joe Root was 14 not out and Moeen Ali 15 not out at the close, the pair having come together after England lost three wickets for two runs in collapsing to 72 for four.

Left-handed opener Cook fell for just 22 to make it 27 innings since he had scored the last of his England record 25 hundreds.

His exit came shortly after Ian Bell, the other experienced batsman in England's top order, had been dismissed for one – his 19th innings without a Test century.

England assistant coach Paul Farbrace did his best to make light of a difficult situation by telling Sky Sports: “We've got a bit to do tomorrow (Monday), but we've got two guys in who love a scrap.

“The captain (Cook) is fine, he's in there chatting to the lads who are not out. The form of the senior players isn't a concern.”

Fast-medium bowler Ishant Sharma removed both Bell and Cook in a burst of two wickets for no runs in seven balls.

At lunch, India were 267 for seven, a lead of 243.

Three quick wickets early in the second session and England would have been on course to end their run of nine Tests without a win.

But instead the runs flowed.

Jadeja made a dashing 68 while adding 99 in an eighth-wicket stand with Kumar that changed the course of the game.

“We are in a good position, but we need to get them out early,” Jadeja said.

Reflecting on his cavalier 57-ball innings, which saw him hit both James Anderson and Stuart Broad back over their heads for boundaries after taking several steps down the pitch, Jadeja said:

“I wanted to go out there and play my shots.”

Kumar was last man out for 52 – his third fifty in four innings this series after his Test-best six for 82 earlier in this match.

His innings saw Kumar join two of cricket's greatest all-rounders in England's Ian Botham and New Zealand's Richard Hadlee as the only men to have both scored a fifty and taken five wickets in successive Tests.

Left-arm spinner Jadeja struck with his first ball Sunday when he had opener Sam Robson lbw.

Cook and fellow left-hander Gary Ballance added 58 for the second wicket.

But Ballance, who made 110 in the first innings, was caught behind off Mohammed Shami to leave England 70 for two.

Bell did not last long, clean bowled off stump by a Sharma delivery that kept a touch low.

Then Cook, after more than two hours at the crease, fell in familiar fashion when Sharma had him eding a good length ball through to India captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Cook had now scored a mere 115 runs in seven Tests innings at home to Sri Lanka and India so far this season.

Ali, on 11, survived a confident lbw appeal from Jadeja and was dropped of the spinner on 15 by Dhoni.

India resumed Sunday in overcast conditions on 169 for four, with opener Murali Vijay 59 not out and Dhoni unbeaten on 12.

After Dhoni fell for a laboured 19, it was not long before Anderson was bowling to Jadeja, with both players facing a possible ban as a result of their alleged confrontation in the Trent Bridge pavilion.

Vijay, in sight of a second hundred of the series following his 146 in Nottingham, fell for 95 when he flicked an Anderson delivery to wicketkeeper Matt Prior after more than six hours at the crease.

Jadeja counter-attacked brilliantly while Kumar made England pay for Root dropping him on two before India were bowled out for 342. – Sapa-AFP


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