India allowed England a 24-run first innings lead, despite spirited bowling from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The unassuming bowler accounted for 6 England wickets for 82 runs and recorded a back-to-back 5-wicket haul in a test match. In 8 test match innings, his total wickets now stand at 20, of which 11 have come from Nottingham and Lords. India began well in their second knock, despite the usual early loss of Shikhar Dhawan, who made 31 off 45 balls. Dhawan cannot curb his instinctive style of risk-taking aggression in the mould of Virender Sehwag but a string of poor scores could be his undoing. However, there is some advantage in such style; it puts off the best of the bowling attack at bay for a while. After Dhawan’s wicket, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara kept their heads down and added 78 for the second wicket, before three batsmen fell for a mere 5 runs. By close of play, however, Vijay was still unbeaten with Dhoni supporting him from the other end. The play on the first session of the fourth day may prove decisive since India’s lead is only 145 with lot of time still remaining in the Lords test.
On the third day morning, India did well to restrict England to 319, thanks to a plucky and unbeaten half century from Liam Plunkett. He defied the bowlers and kept hitting when he could, despite losing support from the other side. Plunkett’s knock of 55 off 79 balls, included 8 fours and he helped England add 100 runs to the overnight total. For India, Bhuvi Kumar continued to torment the England batsmen and without losing his rhythm, he bowled just as he had done yesterday. He followed his haul of 5/82 at Nottingham with 6/82 at Lords. Unluckily for Kumar, he didn’t get much support from the other end. At one stage, it seemed that Matt Prior and Plunkett would indulge in another big later-order stand in keeping with the tradition of the ongoing series as the seventh wicket partnership was already worth 51 runs. It was a dangerous combination from India’s viewpoint but Mohammed Shami bowled a short ball to which Prior got a heavy top edge. Several fielders were getting under the high ball swirling in air, including wicketkeeper Dhoni but finally it was Shikhar Dhawan who held Prior’s catch to India’s relief. Ben Stokes joined Plunkett but he soon perished for a duck to Bhuvi Kumar, who got a through ball to hit Stokes stumps. In the same over, Kumar also accounted for Stuart Broad, who flashed on the offside for a comfortable catch to Dhawan in the slips. Anderson and Plunkett looked dangerous as they scored freely and threatened India with another last-wicket stand. Dhoni called Jadeja to have a go at Anderson and it was Jadeja, who finally got Anderson playing a reverse sweep that touched his gloves and flew into the slip cordon for an easy catch for Rahane. But at 319, England had gone ahead of India by 24 runs.
Despite beginning well in the second innings, India lost two wickets at 118 and another at 125 and looked like going downhill. However, Vijay controlled his game with support from captain Dhoni and India ended the day with 169/4, a lead of just 145 runs. Vijay effectively curbed his aggression and in scoring 59 runs, he has already consumed 190 balls. Dhoni has also played cautiously so far and he is unbeaten on 12 off 51. Earlier in the 44th over, Liam Plunkett snapped two wickets off successive ball to put India under a cloud. After a patient knock of 43 off 83 balls, Pujara needlessly nicked an off-side delivery and Prior held on to the chance. Plunkett’s next victim was Virat Kohli, who has been having a lean patch lately. Kohli shouldered arms to a short ball that went through and dislodged the bails. Kohli thus earned his first-ball duck in test cricket much to the agony of Indian supporters. First innings’ centurion, Ajinkya Rahane was the fourth wicket that India lost. Rahane fended a short pitched ball from Broad that looped near the short square-leg and prior made a dash to bring off a great diving catch. Rahane was not happy but the umpire thought he had gloved it. After the quick loss of 3 wickets, Vijay and Dhoni avoided any further damage but they need to carry on the fourth morning to be able to make anything out of this test match.
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