India v England: Jonathan Trott helps tourists fight towards draw

 

Fourth Test, Nagpur, day four:

England 330 & 161-3, India 326-9 dec

Match scorecard

England face a nervy last day in the final Test as they seek a first series victory in India for 27 years.

The tourists, who lead the series 2-1, need a draw in Nagpur and ended the fourth day 165 runs ahead on 161-3.

After India declared on 326-9, England stumbled to 94-3 in their second innings, losing Alastair Cook, Nick Compton and Kevin Pietersen.

But Jonathan Trott (66 not out) and Ian Bell (24 no) steadied England with a watchful partnership of 67 runs.

Analysis

"England will have to bat into the afternoon because even if they score 60-70 by lunch, they'll still need a few more runs. What Dhoni did at the start of the day was quite puzzling as they got stuck in no-man's-land for an hour and didn't really push the game along. The key for England was that no matter how slowly they batted, they didn't lose too many early wickets. Dhoni set defensive fields, only had two men catching for the spinners, which is all right in theory providing you get wickets, but they only got three throughout the day. Trott has scored delightfully, he's looked at ease and has scored relatively quickly, while Bell has played sensibly for once."

The Warwickshire pair will be key to England's chances of batting themselves into a safe position on the fifth day, against an Indian side desperate to level the series.

Trott, who relishes such situations, looked assured at the crease as he expertly combined his famed powers of concentration with a fluency which brought nine boundaries, while Bell was equally as resilient as he looks to return to form after scoring just 56 runs in five previous Test innings on tour.

One of Trott's boundaries came in unusual circumstances as Ravindra Jadeja let the ball slip out of his hand during his delivery stride. The ball bounced numerous times before landing in the short leg area and being smashed for four by the opportunistic Trott.

With Joe Root and Matt Prior, who shared a 103-run partnership in the first innings, still to bat, England will be confident of staying at the crease long enough to secure the result they need to match the achievements of their predecessors in 1984-85.

However, they will also be aware of the dangers a batting collapse could bring and the threat of an Indian run chase on a pitch that still offers very little to the bowlers.

The hosts can sense the match and series are slipping away, though, judging by a fiery evening session which saw a number of their players exchange words with Trott.

The animosity stemmed from an unsuccessful appeal when Ishant Sharma thought he had the batsman caught behind.

Captain Cook

Alastair Cook is now England's leading Test run-scorer in India with 863, one ahead of Mike Gatting, with Tony Greig in third place and Kevin Pietersen fourth

If Trott did get an edge it was virtually impossible to judge, and umpire Kumar Dharmasena's decision to turn down India's vociferous appeal was the correct one.

Mahendra Dhoni's side felt aggrieved and sledged the unperturbed Trott for the final hour of the evening session, but England, and captain Alastair Cook in particular, are the ones who should be feeling hard done by.

After putting on 48 for the first wicket with Compton, Cook, who made 13 from 93 balls, was given out caught behind off Ravichandran Ashwin despite replays showing the skipper's bat was nowhere near a ball that spun sharply.

Compton followed for 34 just before tea - given out lbw to Pragyan Ojha - and when Kevin Pietersen played no shot at a straight one from Jadeja and was bowled, England were in a spot of trouble.

However, the assured intervention of Trott and Bell steadied any nerves and blunted the Indian attack.

Dhoni may now rue the hour he wasted at the start of the day's play, when the Indian tail added just 29 runs in 13 overs to get within four runs of England's first innings total.