Chennai: A strong 214-run stand for the fourth wicket between Andrew Strauss (108) and Paul Collingwood (108) took England to a commanding position and the visitors were leading by 376 runs in the second innings against India at tea here today.
At tea, Matt Pror (24) was at the crease and England had taken their second innings score to 301 for the loss of eight wickets.
Aiming to set a big target, England, however could score only 57 runs in 22.5 losing five wickets in the post lunch session as the Indian bowlers struck back headed by a three-wicket burst by speedster Zaheer Khan and a wicket each by Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma.
England went in for lunch in an unassailable position thanks to Srauss and Collingwood's marathon assault on India's bowlers Zaheer, Ishant, the pacemen and the new spin twins leggie Amit Mishra and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
However, the 'Strauss-Collingwood effect' faded at last in the sixth over after lunch. Off-spinner Harbhajan unable to spin his web around the English batsmen unlike the first innings, managed to remove Strauss caught by VVS Laxman.
The magnificient English opener, who joined the elite club of the batsmen who had scored two tons in the same match earlier in the first session, made 108 in 397 minutes off 244 balls.
He hit eight fours, batting to the needs of his team along with Collingwood.
Ishant Sharm then struck almost in tandem. Ishnat, who had been toiling hard hitting the ball down on an unresponsive Chepauk wicket, managed to have the new batsman Andrew Flintoff snicking to Dhoni.
Flintoff, not in the best of his form with the bat off late, fell for 4 off 11 balls. He was at the wicket for just 18 minutes.
England were 262 for five and India was already facing a daunting task on the final day tomorrow, with England building up a strong target for them in the hope of going one up in the two Test series.
Matt Prior, who had held up the Indian bowlers earlier in the first innings with a gritty unbeaten 53, joind Collingwood at the crease, even as the speculation when England would declare the innings closed, was floating around.
But England seemed to bat on, the tea break still some time to come. However, Zaheer Khan earned himself his first wicket in the second innings and India were cock a hoop Zaheer removed Collingwood trapping him leg before wicket with reverse swing.
Collingwood scored 108 runs for his team when they were needed most in 374 minutes and 250 balls with the help of nine fours.
England, who had scored 23 runs in the first 12 overs after lunch, was joined by debutant off-spinner Graeme Swann at the wicket.
The two were coasting along as India looked for further success.
Prior enjoyed a life when Gautam Gambir spilled an easy chance at forward short leg off Harbhajan.
This was after he hit a delectable four off the 'sardar' in the previous delivery. Prior was then on 19.
However, Zaheer Khan ended Swann's short stint at the wicket castling his leg stump on the fifth ball of the 101st over.
Swann's contribution of seven runs to the side came in 29 minutes. He added 20 runs for the seventh wicket with Prior.
The phlegmtic Hrbhajan bowled unchanged at northerrn end while Dhoni was switching Zaheer, Amit Mishra and Ishant at the pavillion end.
England posted their 300-run mark off the fifth ball of the 101st over and in 483 minutes.
There was cheer further for India as Zaheer castled Harmison for one to see England down 301 for 8, but ahaed by 376 runs, the last ball remaining before tea.