LONDON, Aug 20 (PTI): A listless India faced the prospect of an embarrassing series whitewash after yet another batting collapse left them struggling at 103 for five in reply to England�s massive 591 for six declared on a rain-hit third day of the fourth and final cricket Test here today.
The hosts rode on Ian Bell�s (235) maiden double century and Kevin Pietersen�s 175 to pile up an imposing first innings total and then had the Indians on the mat after riping through their top-order on a Oval track which still seems good for batting.
The visitors, who need to draw the match to avoid slipping to the number three position in the ICC Test Championship Table, lost the wickets of Virender Sehwag (8), VVS Laxman (2), Sachin Tendulkar (23), Suresh Raina (0) and night watchman Ishant Sharma (1) on the extended final session of the day to give England the upperhand in the match.
Rahul Dravid was the only batsmen to have shown some fight with a gritty 57 that came of 108 balls while giving him company was skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (5) when stumps were drawn on the third day of the match, which was marred by a three-hour rain interruption soon after lunch.
Off-spinner Graeme Swann was the pick of the English bowlers, scalping three wickets for 27 runs.
With two full days of cricket left and with India�s batting looking brittle, it will prove to be a herculean task for the battered visitors to save the match and avoid a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of England.
England 1st Innings: (Overnight 457 for 3) A Strauss c Dhoni b Sreesanth 40, A Cook c Sehwag b Sharma 34, I Bell lbw b Raina 235, K Pietersen c & b Raina 175, J Anderson c Laxman b Sreesanth 13, E Morgan c Dhoni b Sreesanth 1, R Bopara batting 44, M Prior batting 18. Extras: (B-6, LB-8, W-7, NB-10) 31. Total: (For 6 wkts in 153 overs) 591. Fall of wickets: 1/75 2/97 3/447 4/480 5/487 6/548. Bowling: RP Singh 34-7-118-0, I Sharma 31-7-97-1, S Sreesanth 29-2-123-3, S Raina 19-2-58-2, A Mishra 38-3-170-0, S Tendulkar 2-0-11-0.
India 1st innings: V Sehwag lbw b Anderson 8, R Dravid batting 57, VVS Laxman c Prior b Broad 2, S Tendulkar c Anderson b Swann 23, S Raina st Prior b Swann 0, I Sharma c Cook b Swann 1, MS Dhoni batting 5. Extras: (LB-5, W-2) 7. Total: (for 5 wkts in 33 overs) 103. Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-13, 3-68, 4-93, 5-95. Bowling: Anderson 5-1-21-1, Broad 10-1-22-1, Bresnan 7-0-25-0, Swann 10-3-27-3, Pietersen 1-0-3-0.