Trott, Bell edge England towards safety and series
England 330 and 161 for 3 (Trott 66*, Bell 24*) lead India 326 for 9 dec (Kohli 103, Dhoni 99, Anderson 4-81) by 165 runs
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Jonathan Trott helped settle a slightly nervy England as they closed in on a famous series victory in Nagpur, reaching the close of the fourth day with a lead of 165. He and Ian Bell added 67 for the fourth wicket after India had given themselves a glimmer by removing Kevin Pietersen shortly after tea with England's advantage still less than 100. Now England are a solid morning session away from their goal.
While India's bowlers did a respectable job on a pitch that refused to break up, their approach in the morning session had been bizarre as they plodded along for 13 overs adding just 29 runs before MS Dhoni finally declared with a narrow deficit. Batting so defensively did nothing but take time out of the game, a situation England were quite happy to go along with. Since India lost quick wickets yesterday evening their only hope has been third-innings panic, which has happened in the past when a draw is the favoured result.
When Pietersen fell, inexplicably shouldering arms at Ravindra Jadeja as Trott did in the first innings, England were tottering on 94 for 3 and Dhoni's hopes were far from dead. Due to the scoring rate of less than two an over - England did not break that barrier until the 62nd over - the lead had not been carried far away from India and the one batsman thought most likely to do that was the one walking back.
Trott, though, played a superb hand, timing the ball as well as anyone has managed on this docile surface. He was off the mark first ball with a sweep and regularly picked off deliveries through the leg side. There was also a curious route for one of his nine boundaries when the ball slipped out of Jadeja's hands, during his delivery, and lobbed towards the on side. As Trott was completely within his rights to do he skipped out and smashed the no-ball to the square-leg fence.
It was also an innings that created some spice in the match. On 43, Trott went to cut Ishant Sharma and India were convinced there was an edge but Kumar Dharmasena, who had earlier made a mistake in giving Alastair Cook caught behind, was unmoved.
Next ball Sharma followed through close to Trott, who responded by blowing a little kiss, and tensions began to grow. At the end of the over there were heated exchanges with the umpires involving Dhoni and Virat Kohli - a likely future India captain, who did not carry himself very well. Meanwhile, a few minutes later, Snickometer (which would not be part of DRS were it in use) did not register any sound.
Trott was unmoved and, in fact, probably motivated further. He went to 49 with an off-drive against Sharma, a rare shot on this slow pitch, and next ball had his half-century from 106 deliveries. India, however, were still festering. Towards the end of the day R Ashwin pulled out of a delivery and warned Trott for backing up too far. It belied the growing frustrations.
Bell provided solid support following the potentially vital loss of Pietersen. It was an important period for him after a lean series - he will need to continue on the final morning - and he collected runs calmly. There was one moment of fortune when he edged Ashwin through a vacant slip where two balls earlier Virender Sehwag had been stood. The fourth-wicket stand came at almost three an over, a largely unseen rate in this match.
The day brought a total of 190 runs, but midway through it did not appear even that total would be reached. After India's strange approach, Cook and Nick Compton put all their efforts into ensuring against early mishaps for England. Progress was at snail pace but, especially for Cook, there was too much at stake to suddenly try anything too flamboyant.
The first boundary of the day did not come until five minutes before lunch, when Compton edged Ashwin to third man, and Cook had reach 5 from 78 deliveries when he slotted away a cover drive.
For the second time in the match Cook was removed through an umpiring error from Dharmasena when he played forward to Ashwin and the ball spun past the outside edge. There was a strong appeal, and a noise, but replays confirmed that Cook's bat had struck the ground and he had missed the ball. It left Cook with a match tally off 14 off 121 balls but it did nothing to dilute the epic nature of his series, which ended with 562 runs.
Compton's solidity alongside Cook has been one of the major plusses to come out of this series. His defence had been firm throughout the afternoon session but in the final over before tea he was given lbw to Ojha. Replays suggested an inside edge but the ball was also caught in the gully so the presence of DRS would only have changed the mode of dismissal.
At that point it had been one of the more forgettable days of Test cricket in recent memory, but the final session was far more entertaining for a variety of reasons. There will be debate about how India handled themselves, but at least it showed the passion remained. That has not always seemed the case in this series. England, though, as they had done on Saturday, did not lose their cool and finished the day stronger. They are very close now.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo