Pathan falls as India chase 313
A tantalising fifth day was in prospect at the Wankhede Stadium as India fought back magnificently to give themselves a chance of eking out a memorable win, though England still had the advantage after an intriguing contest on the fourth day. England's curiously passive approach meant they only managed 160 from 77.4 overs and were bowled out for 191.
But, chasing a victory target of 313 - more than has ever been scored in the fourth innings at Mumbai - India's start was disastrous. With Virender Sehwag sidelined with back spasms, his replacement, Irfan Pathan, was bowled by James Anderson for 6, as India closed on 18 for 1, needing a further 295.
Down 1-0 in the series, England were the team which needed to do all the running to try and force a result, but from the start, they adopted a strangely go-slow approach, perhaps worried by the possibility of a collapse if they charged for quick runs. Andrew Flintoff's knock was symptomatic of the entire innings - a batsman who usually scores at 66 runs per 100 balls eked out 50 from 145, only very occasionally attempting to break free from the shackles imposed by the bowlers. Owais Shah managed 38 from 118, while Paul Collingwood faced the same number of balls and scored five fewer runs.
After three ordinary days, with the bat and in the field, the Indians had a largely memorable day except for a couple of lapses in the field and the late wicket of Pathan. The bowlers were particularly impressive: Anil Kumble performed as only Kumble can, toiling over after over, going round the wicket to check the runs, hardly bowling a loose delivery, and taking a splendid return catch too to dismiss the dangerous Kevin Pietersen.
Inspired by his act, Harbhajan Singh turned in a fine performance too. He was introduced into the attack well after lunch, but immediately settled into a rhythm, extracting turn and sometimes exaggerated bounce from the surface, something that should surely encourage Monty Panesar and Shaun Udal, the two England spinners. Harbhajan pulled off a superb return catch of his own too, and his figures of 2 for 39 from 23 overs should help a bowler who has been searching for form and confidence lately.
When play resumed this morning, England were 152 ahead, with eight wickets in hand, and it wasn't unreasonable to expect them to push the lead to around 350 by tea, and then give themselves four sessions to bowl out the Indians and level the series.
What transpired, though, was quite different: 54 came from 26 overs in the first session, as Shah, Udal and Pietersen stodged, and then stodged some more. The two wickets they lost in that session - those of Udal and Pietersen - meant India had done their job well. More of the same followed after lunch, as 29 overs fetched 53. The pitch misbehaved occasionally - the odd ball jumped up or turned more than expected - but most deliveries were played with the middle of the bat.
Flintoff's exercise in restraint was the most unusual: off his first 128 balls, he had made 32, a run-ball equation usually associated with his opposite number in the Indian team, Rahul Dravid. Finally, he opened out, sweeping Harbhajan powerfully for six over midwicket, before losing his wicket while charging Kumble. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who completed the stumping, had earlier missed a similar chance to nail Flintoff when he was only on 14 - how critical that reprieve was, we shall know tomorrow.
In the end, though, Flintoff's was a crucial innings, without which England would have probably had a less than even chance of winning this match. As it stands, they must still fancy themselves - the highest any team has scored to win here is 164, while the highest any team has scored in the fourth innings is 266. The stats don't look encouraging for India, but chances are Dravid and Co. won't be looking at them tonight.
Shaun Udal c Jaffer b Pathan 14 (61 for 3)
Edged a drive to second slip
Kevin Pietersen c & b Kumble 7 (73 for 4)
Got a leading edge to a flick, superb diving catch
Owais Shah run out (Tendulkar/ Dhoni) 38 (85 for 5)
Throw from backward point found him well short
Paul Collingwood c & b Harbhajan 33 (151 for 6)
Spectacular one-handed catch diving to his left
Geraint Jones c Pathan b Harbhajan 3 (157 for 7)
Top-edged a pull, fine running catch at square leg
Matthew Hoggard lbw b Kumble 7 (183 for 8)
Missed a sweep
Andrew Flintoff st Dhoni b Kumble 50 (188 for 9)
Down the track and failed to connect
James Anderson c Dravid b Kumble 6 (191 all out)
Edged to slip
Irfan Pathan b Anderson 6 (6 for 1)
Dragged a full-toss back on to his stumps
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo