NAGPUR, Dec 14 (PTI): India�s batting woes continued to haunt them with the top-oder batsmen succumbing tamely yet again as England snapped up four quick wickets to gain firm control of the the crucial fourth and final cricket Test here today.
After posting a decent score of 330 in the first innings, the visitors exploited the slow and uneven bounce of the track to leave India gasping at a precarious 87 for four at close on an eventful second day which saw nine wickets fall.
Paceman James Anderson (3/24) did the bulk of the damage while Graeme Swann chipped in with a wicket as the out-of-form Indian batsmen put up another pathetic display with none of them willing to show the application and temparament to hang in there.
Virat Kohli (11) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (8) were at the crease when stumps were drawn for the day, with the hosts still trailing by 243 runs.
Earlier, resuming at the overnight score of 199 for five, England did well to stretch their first innings total to 330 with debutant Joe Root (73), Matt Prior (57) and Swann (56) being the notable contributors.
Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla was the pick of the Indian bowlers with a career-best haul of 4/69 while paceman Ishant Sharma (3/49), Ravindra Jadeja (2/58) and R Ashwin (1/66) were the other wicket-takers.
The failure of India�s famed batsmen again let the team down badly as Virender Sehwag (0), Gautam Gambhir (37), Cheteswar Pujara (26) and Sachin Tendulkar (2) could not stay for long. Tendulkar was bowled by Anderson who has now dismissed him nine times, the highest by any bowler. With three full days left in the match, England have put themselves on course for their first series win on Indian soil in 28 years. India, on the other hand, will have to bat out of their skins to save the ignominy of their third successive humiliating defeat.
Earlier, leg spinner Chawla hastened the end of the England first innings for 330 after lunch by grabbing the visitors� last three wickets in only 25 balls in the fourth and final Test here today. Chawla, who finished with his best figures of 4 for 69 in his three-Test-old career, snapped up the wickets of Joe Root (73), to end the eighth-wicket stand between the debutant and Graeme Swann, the latter batsman too for 56 and James Anderson for 4 in a superb post-lunch spell of 4.5-0-17-3.
The 23-year-old Aligarh-born Chawla thus bettered his earlier best figures of 2 for 66 versus South Africa at Kanpur in 2008, his previous appearance in a Test.
Chawla�s excellent spell, after England resumed at the lunchtime score of 277 for 7, helped India wrap up the visitors� first innings within the first hour of play after lunch.
England had resumed at the overnight 199 for 5 in the morning, added 78 runs in 32 overs while losing the wickets of Matt Prior for 57 � bowled by Ashwin for his only wicket of the innings � and Bresnan who was bowled for a duck by Ishant Sharma.
Sharma, who bowled with a lot of fire on the low and slow track sporting cracks, finished with fine figures of 3 for 49 in his second match of the series while Ravindra Jadeja (2 for 58 in 37 overs) and Ashwin (1 for 66) were the other successful bowlers.
India�s leading wicket taker in the series, left arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, ended wicket-less after conceding 71 runs in 35 overs.
Chawla, who had dismissed Ian Bell yesterday, accepted a return catch from Root after the batsman had a sudden rush of blood � after having plodded for nearly six hours in his 229-ball essay in which he hit just 4 fours.
England 1st innings: Cook lbw b Sharma 1, Compton c Dhoni b Sharma 3, Trott b Jadeja 44, Pietersen c Ojha b Jadeja 73, Bell c Kohli b Chawla 1, Joe Root c & b Chawla 73, Prior b Ashwin 57, Bresnan lbw b Sharma 0, Swann lbw b Chawla 56, Anderson c Pujara b Chawla 4, Panesar not out 1. Extras: (B-5, LB-12) 17. Total: (all out in 145.5 overs) 330. Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-16, 3-102, 4-119, 5-139, 6-242, 7-242, 8-302, 9-325. Bowling: Ishant Sharma 28-9-49-3, Pragyan Ojha 35-12-71-0, Ravindra Jadeja 37-17-58-2, Piyush Chawla 21.5-1-69-4, R Ashwin 24-3-66-1.
India 1st Innings: Gambhir c Prior b Anderson 37, Sehwag b Anderson 0, Pujara c Bell b Swann 26, Tendulkar b Anderson 2, Kohli not out 11, Dhoni not out 8. Extras: (B-1, LB-2) 3, Total: (For 4 wickets; 41 overs) 87. Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-59, 3-64, 4-71. Bowling: Anderson 9-2-24-3, Bresnan 10-1-25-0, Panesar 14-4-24-0, Swann 7-3-9-1, Trott 1-0-2-0.