Nagpur, Dec 16: England moved into safe zone by taking a defensive route against India on fourth day of fourth Test. With 165 runs ahead and a day remaining, the visitors are the favourites to take the series with 2-1 verdict.
Jonathan Trott struck a patient half century to lead England towards their choice of drawing this game rather than going for a victory. After gaining a narrow 4-run first innings lead, England ended the fourth day at 161/3 in 79 overs.
The pitch remained slow but surprisingly there was not much turn for India spinners even on day four. Right from the start of England second innings, their batsmen opted for safety than preferring to score runs. It is the best way for them to secure the series, first in India since 1984-85.
Trott was superb at the crease, scoring 66 not out from 153 deliveries with nine boundaries. He and Ian Bell (24 not out) will resume on the final day. If England bat for another two session on Monday, it is all over for India.
Ashwin had a great chance of running Trott out when the batsman was out of his crease backing up too far. But Ashwin did not "Mankad" Trott but only warned him. Trott was on 59 at the time and a dismissal at that stage could have made things interesting. In February this year in Brisbane, Ashwin had "Mankad-ed" Sri Lanka's Lahiru Thirimanne in a One Day International but captain Virender Sehwag had withdrawn the appeal.
There was one more incident involving Trott where the batsman scored a boundary off a Jadeja ball that slipped out of hand and bounced couple of times and rolled on the pitch. Trott charged down the wicket and hit that no-ball to square-leg fence.
Trott and Bell have so far added 67 for the fourth wicket. In the final session of play, India managed to get only one wicket, Kevin Pietersen (6), who misjudged a straight ball to see the offstump disturbed by Ravindra Jadeja.
India now need a miracle to win from here on the final day and level the series. Now, it is all in England's hands to lose the match from here.
At tea, England 81/2
England batsmen opted for a defensive approach against India as a draw here in fourth Test will give them the series 2-1. At tea on fourth day, England had crawled to 81/2 in 46.4 overs. The visitors lead by 85 runs.
India had to wait till the 30th over for first success. Captain Alastair Cook's stubborn stay was ended courtesy a bad decision by umpire Kumar Dharmasena. Nick Compton was out LBW on the last ball before tea but replays showed that he had hit the ball. Rod Tucker failed to spot the nick. However, Compton's inside edge was taken by Indian fielder. Either way he would have been out but the final decision was LBW, which was wrong.
Cook was adjudged caught behind wicket off R Ashwin, though replays suggested there was no edge. The left-hander was clearly unhappy with the decision. Second time in the match Cook got a rough decision. In first innings, he was wrongly given out LBW.
Cook batted for 93 deliveries for his 13. England lost first wicket at 48 in 29.5 overs. Cook ended the series with 562 runs with three centuries.
At lunch, England 17/0, India 326/9 declared
India declared at 326/9 in 143 overs after batting for exactly an hour on the fourth morning of the fourth Test against England on Sunday. Pragyan Ojha was the batsman out. England lead by 4 runs. At lunch, England were 17/0 in 13 overs.
India's tactics were baffling in the first hour. R Ashwin started to refuse singles and in came the substitute fielder Ashok Dinda with a message and then the right-hander began to take runs. India, who need to win this Test, were never in a hurry to go for runs. India managed just 29 runs in 12.5 overs in the morning.
Ojha fell for 3 after batting for 32 balls. Monty Panesar who dismissed Ojha bowled, seemed to be disappointed at getting his first wicket such slow was India's approach.
Start of day update
India began batting on fourth day of fourth Test against England here on Sunday. The hosts still trail by 33 runs in first innings with two wickets remaining.
R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha are at the crease. India are 297/8. Ishant Sharma is the number 11 batsman for India.
On Saturday, Virat Kohli hit a fine century while MS Dhoni was run out for 99. Their 198-run stand helped India bounce back in the game after being in a precarious situation on Friday.
The series is 2-1 in favour of England.