England v India, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 3rd day July 19, 2014

Determined Vijay keeps England at bay

250

India 295 and 169 for 4 (Vijay 59*) lead England 319 (Ballance 110, Plunkett 55*, Kumar 6-82) by 145 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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India have lost more Tests at Lord's than at any other venue, but it will take a formidable bowling performance by England on the fourth morning for them to lose this one. They lead by 145 with six wickets remaining, guided there by a serious-minded opener who met the sultriest, most wearing day that London can offer by blocking his way to contentment in a sweater.

M Vijay's share of India's 169 for 4 was 59 not out in 190 balls and four-and-three-quarter hours, an innings of immense watchfulness which burst into life only rarely: a loft down the ground against Moeen Ali; an uncertain, uppish extra-cover drive in the over he reached his fifty which left James Anderson recoiling in disappointment. Just as he contemplated playing more freely after tea, India lost three wickets for five runs in 19 balls. He knew his lot then: he had to confine himself to survival.

What run chase would give England a 50% chance of chasing successfully on this pitch? Perhaps 235, 250 at most? India, after all, do lack a specialist spinner. The pitch has retained its pace; strikingly green on the opening day, it is now strikingly dry. It looked a haven for batting on a somnolent afternoon, but England's bowlers had their dander up as wickets fell after tea and Vijay and Dhoni, one understated, one batting with the passive aggression of somebody strutting the mean streets at midnight, needed all their skill to survive. A couple of Dhoni's walkabouts in his hour-plus at the crease were individualistic to say the least.

Life looked ominous for England at 118 for 1. There was less swing and seam than at any time during the match. Spectators donned emergency headwear - newspapers made into pirate hats, carefully-draped towels and six-hit cards that were unlikely to be needed for their prime purpose on a day like this - and watched with creeping resignation. One lbw appeal by Stuart Broad - a big inside nick by Cheteshwar Pujara - had a bit of a pout about it.

Then Liam Plunkett, who had been down on pace throughout the match, with a tight hamstring offered by way of explanation, removed Pujara and Virat Kohli in successive balls. Pujara, who had been regally composed in making 43, reached defensively for a wide one and edged to the keeper.

Plunkett's next ball, again of goodish length, was a virtual replica - Kohli's first-ball leave-alone had logic on its side, but Plunkett brought the ball back up the slope to strike top of off.

As there will be in a series lacking DRS, there was also an umpiring howler, uncorrected. Bruce Oxenford has not had a good series - he is beginning to resemble a plant by DRS supporters - and there has been nothing to save him. Ajinkya Rahane, India's first-innings century maker, was rapped on the arm guard by a short, hostile delivery, Matt Prior sprinted down the legside to hold a good catch and his appeal was upheld.

The afternoon had less to commend it. Little happened, not that this concerned India who were edging towards a position of authority. Shikhar Dhawan played within himself - he still made 31 in 45 balls - then got out to his first firecracker shot. Ben Stokes dropped short, Dhawan cocked his front leg, leant onto his back foot and rasped the ball through backward point only for Joe Root to plunge to his right and hold an excellent two-handed catch. Having observed a desultory bit of after-you between Root and Gary Ballance in his previous over - a routine not in Yorkshire's training manual - Stokes had reason to be pleasantly surprised.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar had sustained India with another productive bowling display on the third morning, continuing an excellent series with two more wickets and figures of 6 for 82, the first Indian player to take five wickets in successive Tests in England.

After winning such an influential toss, England's 24-run lead must have felt like the worst prize in the Village Hall raffle, the one that you sheepishly realise after winning that you have donated at least twice before.

That England did gain a lead - the last four wickets adding another100 in 19.5 overs - was due to a maiden Test fifty by Plunkett. He came in as a nightwatchman on the second evening, but he did not look remotely out of place as he finished unbeaten on 55. After making a terrible hash of his nightwatchman's stint at Headingley, when he was outfoxed by Rangana Herath, Plunkett took the chance to flex his muscles.

Around him, though, contributions were lacking. Prior threatened but then pulled at Mohammed Shami for Dhawan to lead the pursuit of a swirling catch from slip. When Stokes was cleaned up, on the walk, by Bhuvneshwar, it continued a horrendous run in England colours since late January. He has made 18 runs in nine attempts in all competitions, with five ducks and an average of two. It is a staggering lapse since he shot to prominence at international level with a rumbustious maiden Test century in Perth.

Broad has long consigned himself to a role of late-order hitter. This two-ball affair was hard to justify. He carved his first ball, from Bhuvneshwar, behind point for four, sought a repeat against his next ball and edged to Dhawan at slip.

Anderson's reverse sweep against his off-field adversary, Ravindra Jadeja, ended England's innings as it flew off a glove to first slip. Anderson dashed off for a rub down, just as well as it meant he did not catch sight of Jadeja's smile. The odds - perhaps 55:45 in India's favour - suggested Jadeja may be smiling again by Monday.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • LETSCOMPLICATEIT on July 20, 2014, 13:07 GMT

    Hello and Greetings. I am a die hard England fan and supporter. This young Indian team is immensely talented, and have out bowled, out batted and out fielded England, and are going to win this series 0-3.

  • dummy4fb on July 20, 2014, 13:07 GMT

    An interesting day's play, and, agreed, the odds slightly in India's favour.

  • dummy4fb on July 20, 2014, 12:50 GMT

    Watch out for Cook, he is due for a score. Dhoni looks so bad defending, he should attack whenever he can, that's the only way he will be a great player for India in a test. Binny looks a good player unfortunate to get out. Very Interesting match, just enjoy and don't worry who wins. Both teams have a chance to go one up.

  • android_user on July 20, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    Dhawan should not included any further tests of INDIA, he is one day.player.INDIA has some good quality spinners playing in domestic , should try.them. And how can you.ignore.Umesh yadav.who would have been so effective.in removing England lower order

  • ram91106 on July 20, 2014, 12:32 GMT

    Jadeja playing a Gilchrist like innings here...if Bhuvi can continue to stick around for maybe another 15 overs we can reach 330+... How special would it be??? Considering that Jadeja was shockingly booed by the crowd in the Lord's(probably a first for the Lord's regulars too) if he can play and score a quick-fire 70 odd runs which turns out to be the defining innings of the match will the crowd acknowledge a special performance by a special player?? On the other hand the rapidly turning fan - favorite Bhuvi Kumar is vulnerable to hit-wicket dismissals...My only worry is in order to counter the bounce he does not inadvertently trod on his stumps...Would be catastrophic for India to say the least...Game on at Lord's though...Joga Bonito...

  • android_user on July 20, 2014, 12:31 GMT

    what is important here is that Jaddu and Bhuvi should uplift there performance one last time so that this game record itself for the famous Indian win the Lords lime!

  • BradmanBestEver on July 20, 2014, 12:30 GMT

    England's poor performance at home this summer is in no small part due to severe "scarring" from the Ashes humiliation.

    Evidence of this "scarring" effect is there for all to see: for example, dropped catches by Prior and Root, Cook's lack of imagination in his captaincy and his woeful batting form, and in Anderson's inability to bowl at test match standard.

    What will they do about it?

  • dummy4fb on July 20, 2014, 12:30 GMT

    Vijay missing his 5th 100, Bad luck. He should look at Rahul Dravid. I think Jadeja will fight and reach over 300 run lead before Tea. Over 300 is going to be tough for English team. All 4 seamers will do the job.

  • yogicoolboy on July 20, 2014, 12:27 GMT

    Well Played Vijay. Unlucky On missing a well deserved Century. Fought Hard. Hoping for a good and exciting finish. Hope India bowls well

  • dummy4fb on July 20, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    Dhoni, tried to keep the pressure of Vijay and allowed him to score runs, unlucky for him to get out early on, he should of been more attacking than defending, If you look at his past innings he makes a good score when he is attacking every now and then. Hopefully for the next test he remembers he is an attacking batsman. Jadeja just should just score the runs at every loose delivery and Bhuvi should go for the singles supporting Jadeja and then for sure we can get a decent score for 300+ for ENG to chase. Binny definitely needs to work on his batting, he went for the big shot to early. Kholi needs some time to get his technique back. As for MSD he needs to take some pressure of himself and focus on his technique and attack the batsmen.

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