England have a huge day ahead in Nottingham on Friday as they trail by 414 runs at Trent Bridge with nine wickets left but they will have to do it without captain Alastair Cook after a strange second day in the opening Investec Test.
The hosts closed on 43-1 with Sam Robson (20*) and Gary Ballance (15*) at the crease overnight after Cook was dismissed for five in their pursuit of matching India’s mammoth 457 all out.
The scoreboard doesn’t tell the full story after a last wicket stand of 111 frustrated Cook’s men and kept their momentum after stuttering at 346-9 on a slow, low and docile pitch in Nottingham.
A difficult morning for England saw them only take the one wicket with Jimmy Anderson finally removing Murali Vijay for 146 after he completed his century on the first day.
However, England were magnificent after lunch and snaffled wickets for just two runs in a destructive spell. The dangerous Ravindra Jadeja was Ben Stokes first victim of the match with Matt Prior taking the catch behind the stumps while his next over brought two wickets.
First of all MS Dhoni was run out by an athletic Jimmy Anderson before Stuart Binny on debut was caught by Joe Root for just a single as England turned the screw on India.
Ishant Sharma was then at the crease but Stuart Broad made short work of the tail-ender with some reverse swing aiding the ball to fly into the right-handers off stump to leave India struggling at 346-9.
However, the tides turned once again as a record last wicket partnership but India back in control of the game as England’s tired bowlers struggled to take that last wicket. In fact the last pair went into the tea break with an unbeaten 87 run partnership and that continued after the 20 minute rest as they went past three figures with both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami reaching half centuries.
Their remarkable resistance was ended when Kumar skied a ball from Moeen Ali high into the air for Joe Root to catch with the opening innings of the five match series ending on 457.
That left 17 overs for England to face and they will be relatively happy to only lose the one wicket, even though it was their skipper for five. Shami’s great day continued when he bowled Cook which brought Ballance to the crease and the Yorkshire batsman looked as composed as he did against Sri Lanka in surviving 46 balls for his 15 runs.
Robson will join him at the crease at 11am on Friday looking to build a partnership to try and get as close to the tourists score as possible in a day that could decide the fate of this first Test.