Jonathan Agnew: England close to long-awaited win

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
England's Moeen Ali and Joss Buttler
England are six wickets away from their first Test win since the fourth Ashes Test at Durham in August 2013
Third Test, Rose Bowl (day four):
England 569-7 dec & 205-4 dec v India 330 & 112-4
Match scorecard

For so long this summer we have been asking England to take advantage of the good positions they have found themselves in.

Now, after four days of this third Test against India in Southampton, the home side are in the best of the lot.

India, chasing 445 to win, have been reduced to 112-4. England will be devastated if they do not take the final six wickets that will force victory.

There is one final hurdle left, one more good day required after four of dominance. It will be hard, hot work, with temperatures expected to be 21C, but earning Test match victories should be. They have set it up, now all that is left is to rest well and finish the job.

Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on BBC Test Match Special
"If you like England, it is a wonderful day. Almost everything's gone right for them. We were looking for our major players to stand up. Anderson got five and Broad got three. And they can get better. Root played a splendid cameo innings, and Ballance was good again. He can bat properly and can whack it."
Listen to Geoffrey and Jonathan Agnew review the day on the TMS podcast

It would be a sweet victory for Alastair Cook, who, after taking a lot of criticism, has had an excellent match, both as a batsman and as a captain.

He was dicing with being on the receiving end of more bad press by choosing not to impose the follow-on, but England were positive in the way they batted in their second innings.

It would not have been my choice to bat again - England were on a roll after taking two wickets inside 20 minutes this morning - but we don't know how fit the bowlers are and it did look like the pitch had deteriorated more than expected.

After that, I was happy with the way England batted, bumping along at more than five runs an over, centred around Cook, for whom things seem to have clicked again.

He is moving his feet, hitting the ball in the right places and is completely transformed in every way. For some time, he has probably not liked cricket very much, but now he looks as if he is enjoying it once more.

If England do complete victory, I'll be interested to talk to him, because for 10 successive Tests I have interviewed him when his team have not won, and nine of those have been in pretty poor circumstances for him and the team.

With an unbeaten 70 to his name and after Joe Root's swashbuckling 56 came to an end, Cook declared and carried his good batting in to his captaincy.

He is rightly gaining more confidence in Moeen Ali and that was shown by how early he used the off-spinner.

Moeen Ali's series bowling figures
1st innings2nd innings
1st Test, Trent Bridge18-0-97-128-4-105-3
2nd Test, Lord's14-2-38-111-3-28-2
3rd Test, Rose Bowl18-0-62-212-2-33-2
Series total101-11-363-11(average 33.00)

After the dozy run out of Murali Vijay, Moeen repaid the faith, getting Cheteshwar Pujara to edge to slip, where Chris Jordan took a very good catch, the kind England must gobble up if they are to win this match.

That isn't all down to the captain, though. Moeen's bowling is improving with every Test he plays and he has a serious knack of picking up wickets.

Maybe batsmen are more relaxed against him, keen to attack so he does not settle. Either way, he keeps chipping in with vital strikes - two in the first innings, and two more on day four.

I'd like to see him bowl more maidens, to give the sort of control that you expect from a spinner. People talk about him bowling doosras, but he should keep the variety in the locker until his off-breaks are consistent.

Cook will ask him for maidens, not variety. But, he is slowly getting there, and the captain will realise that too.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Stephan Shemilt.

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