NAGPUR, Dec 16 (PTI): A desperate India�s push for a series-levelling win was met with a dogged resistance from England who rode on Jonathan Trott�s gritty half-century to overcome a nervous phase as the fourth and final cricket Test seemed headed for a draw here today.
India batted for one hour in the morning before declaring their first innings at 326 for nine, four runs behind England, but could not make sufficient inroads as England reached 161 for three at close of an absorbing fourth day�s play.
The hosts needed quick wickets but the fourth day track at the VCA stadium did not show any signs of deterioration as England batted out the day without seeming to be under any major discomfort.
Trott (66) and Ian Bell (24) were batting at stumps, with England having an overall lead of 165 runs.
With just one day let in the game, a draw appears to be the likely result though all four outcomes � an Indian win, England win, tie and a draw � can still be possible.
India will need to dismiss England as quickly as possible tomorrow and score the required runs to entertain hopes of a series-levelling win. England will be quite content with a draw which would be enough to give them their first Test series triumph on Indian soil in 28 years. The David Gower-led England team had last won a series in 1984-85.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni kept shuffling his bowlers in a bid to break through the England innings but the English batsmen applied themselves well to keep the hosts at bay, much to the disappointment of a seizable holiday crowd.
England were at a shaky 94 for three at one stage with captain Alastair Cook (13), Nick Compton (34) and Kevin Pietersen (6) back in the pavilion but Trott and Bell ensured that there were no further setbacks with a defiant 67-run partnership.
Trott was however a little lucky as a confident appeal for caught behind off Ishant Sharma was turned down by umpire Kumar Dharmasena, leading to some heated words being exchanged between Trott and Virat Kohli after the over.
Cook was controversially declared caught behind after making a painstaking 13 in 105 minutes, to Ravichandran Ashwin, while his opening partner Compton was given out leg before to Pragyan Ojha to leave England at 81 for two at tea.
The England skipper seemed to have clearly missed edging the ball to Dhoni, but was given out wrongly by Kumar Dharmasena for the second time in the match.
Replays also showed that Compton had been given out off an inside edge by Rod Tucker, though the ball was caught at slip by Virat Kohli at gully on the full.
Soon after tea debutant Ravindra Jadeja disturbed Pietersen�s off stump when the England batsman offered no stroke expecting the ball to turn away.
England 1st Innings: 330 all out
India 1st innings: Gambhir c Prior b Anderson 37, Sehwag b Anderson 0, Pujara c Bell b Swann 26, Tendulkar b Anderson 2, Kohli lbw b Swann 103, Dhoni run out 99, Jadeja lbw b Anderson 12, Ashwin not out 29, Chawla b Swann 1, Ojha b Panesar 3, Ishant not out 2. Extras: (B-5, LB-7) 12. Total: (9 wickets dec; 143 overs) 326. Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-59, 3-64, 4-71, 5-269, 6-288, 7-295, 8-297, 9-317. Bowling: James Anderson 32-5-81-4, Tim Bresnan 26-5-69-0, Monty Panesar 52-15-81-1, Graeme Swann 31-10-76-3, Jonathan Trott 1-0-2-0, Joe Root 1-0-5-0.
England 2nd innings: Cook c Dhoni b Ashwin 13, Compton lbw b Ojha 34, Trott batting 66, Pietersen b Jadeja 6, Bell batting 24. Extras: (B-8, LB-6, NB-4) 18. Total: (For 3 wickets in 79 overs) 161. Fall of wickets: 1-48, 2-81, 3-94. Bowling: I Sharma 12-3-27-0, P Ojha 23-10-39-1, R Ashwin 18-9-34-1, P Chawla 10-2-20-0, R Jadeja 16-9-27-1.