England and India were neck and neck at stumps on Day 3 of the 2nd Test at Lord's, with the tourists 169-4 in their second innings as they set England a total to chase for victory.
The home side had squeezed enough from their lower order earlier in the day to take a 24-run lead, eventually finishing all out on 319.
India found scoring difficult and the bounce occasionally uneven in reply, but guided by an unbeaten half-century from opener Murali Vijay, they started to build a lead.
The questions of how the pitch deteriorates over the final two days and how long India can continue to bat on Sunday will surely determine the outcome of the match from here.
England did their best with the willow, thanks in no small part to nightwatchman Liam Plunkett. Sent in to bat late on Friday, he looked more assured than Matt Prior, who holed out for 23, and the rest of the lower order.
|England 1st Innings|
|Cook||c Dhoni||b B Kumar||10||38||29|
|Robson||c Dhoni||b B Kumar||17||60||42|
|Ballance||c Dhoni||b B Kumar||110||293||203|
|Bell||c Jadeja||b B Kumar||16||71||56|
|Prior||c Dhawan||b Shami||23||54||42|
|Stokes||b B Kumar||0||18||8|
|Broad||c Dhawan||b B Kumar||4||2|
|Anderson||c Rahane||b Jadeja||19||32||21|
|Extras||3nb 2w 5b 10lb||20|
|Total||all out (105.5 ovs)||319|
Bhuvneshwar Kumar impressed with the ball, picking up the wickets of Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad in quick succession to finish on 6-82, the best figures by an Indian in a Test at Lord's since 1936.
Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 19, 2014
But Plunkett also shone, playing some confident and clean shots in an innings worth 55, ended only when James Anderson was caught trying to play an ambitious reverse sweep against Ravindra Jadeja.
India negotiated a brief four-over spell before lunch, and then extended that partnership in the afternoon.
|Dhawan||c Root||b Stokes||31||61||45|
|Pujara||c Prior||b Plunkett||43||123||83|
|Rahane||c Prior||b Broad||5||18||8|
|Extras||0nb 0w 15b 4lb||19||51|
|Total||for 4 (63.0 ovs)||169|
Shikhar Dhawan looked languid and stylish in his innings of 31—but a powerful shot through square was plucked out of the air at cover point by Joe Root to give Stokes the opening wicket.
Plunkett then struck twice in two balls with deliveries on a good length, beating Cheteshwar Pujara and then dismissing Virat Kohli for a golden duck when he misjudged the length.
For the first time in the innings India looked rattled, made worse by the dismissal of first-innings centurion Ajinkya Rahane, who was adjudged caught behind to Broad from a ball which missed glove and bat by some distance, striking the arm guard.
But MS Dhoni was able to negotiate his way to stumps, while Vijay ambled unperturbed to the close, having seen off 190 balls in the day for his 59.
Five overs too few were bowled in the day, which may reflect badly on England captain Alastair Cook should the match referee take action on over rates.
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