By BV Swagath
England are all set to win a Test Series in India after a long gap of 27 years following two and a half solid sessions of batting today at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur. India, who have been desperate to win this fourth and final Test to force a Series draw seem to have conceded that the game is heading towards a stalemate with the 22 yards surface remaining to be lifeless for the spinners.
The match opened up in the final session when star batsman Kevin Pietersen left alone an arm ball from Jadeja to get his off stump rattled with England crawling to 94 runs in as many as 55.5 overs. India’s hopes of making further inroads and cause a panic in the English batting was foiled thanks to the experienced pair of Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell. India failed to find any success until stumps with the 4th wicket pair batting through a little over 23 overs till stumps.
England would consider themselves safe and secured for a draw at 161 for 3, an overall lead of 165 and more to be added on the final day to give India no chance of an outside victory. Jonathan Trott came up with a crucial knock of 66* (from 153 balls with 9 fours) while the out of form Ian Bell remained unbeaten on 24* (from 67 balls with 4 fours). India had used all its bowling variations but just found it near impossible to get the English batsmen out on a track that may be slow but not vicious at all.
Tea on Day 4: India toiled hard to get rid of the English openers in a defensive post lunch session. Both the dismissals had their share of controversy though the match which was otherwise looking like a dead one looks poised again. England at Tea are 81 for 2 in 46.4 overs with a lead of 85 runs.
R Ashwin provided the much needed first breakthrough when he produced a ripper of an off break which pitched on middle and spun past Cook’s defence in the 30th over. Umpire Dharmasena gave a caught behind but replays suggested that there was no edge and it was the bat hitting the pad that made the noise. Cook played out 93 balls to score only 13.
Nick Compton, who worked hard to get to 34 (from 135 balls) was given lbw to Pragyan Ojha in the last over before Tea. It was a straighter one from Ojha which took an inside edge before hitting the pad and Umpire Tucker wrongly gave an lbw. Replays showed that the bat pad inside edge lobbed up to end in the hands of slip, so either way it was out. Jonathan Trott on 22* will be joined by Pietersen after Tea.
Lunch on Day 4: It was a dull morning session on Day 4 with the match not moving forward at all. England seem to be happy to play out for a draw and India did them a favour by batting out for an hour to score only 29 runs in 13.2 overs. India declared at drinks after conceding a lead of 4 runs to England with a total of 326 for 9. Overnight batsman R Ashwin remained unbeaten on 29* (from 65 balls). The only wicket to fall was that of Pragyan Ojha gloving down a jumping delivery from Monty Panesar onto the stumps.
England batted out 13 overs before lunch to crawl to 17 for no loss. The visitors would be happy with a draw in this match as it would still given them a historic series win in India.