LONDON, July 24 (PTI): India were left with the arduous task of batting out the entire fifth day to save the first cricket Test after England recovered from a top-order collapse to set a daunting target of 458 at the Lords here today.
The Indians lost opener Abhinav Mukund early as they reached 80 for one at stumps on an eventful penultimate day which saw wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior hit a heroic unbeaten 103 to pull England out of trouble.
At close of play on day four, Rahul Dravid was batting on 34, while VVS Laxman was giving him company on 32.
The visitors were forced to change the batting order after opener Gautam Gambhir was rushed to a hospital for an xray after being hit on the left arm by a full-blooded sweep from Prior while fielding at forward short leg just before tea.
Sachin Tendulkar, who missed most of England�s second innings due to viral infection, took the field only in the final session, and will only be able to bat at the number seven position.
It was a dramatic morning as England were reduced to a precarious 62 for five with Ishant Sharma wrecking havoc before Prior and Stuart Broad (74 not out) put on 162 runs for the seventh wicket to restore the hosts� command over the match.
Ishant took the wickets of Jonathan Trott, first-innings double centurion Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan to finish with impressive figures of four for 59, but what surprised many was skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni�s decision to not use Ishant straight after lunch.
On the final day tomorrow, India will have to bat a minumum of 90 overs on a track which has all along helped the seam bowlers.
Even as a tough final day awaits India, their two best bet for such a situation, Dravid and Laxman, looked solid in the last session, putting on 61 runs for the second wicket.
Sachin Tendulkar did not field for the first 215 minutes of England�s batting today and the official word is that since India negotiated 117 minutes of batting on the fourth evening it would be 98 more minutes on the final day, or the fall of the fifth wicket, whichever is earlier, for him to bat again.
England :1st innings: 474/8 decl
India:1st innings: 286 all out
England: 2nd innings: 269/6 decl: Andrew Strauss lbw b Harbhajan 32, Alastair Cook c Dhoni b Kumar 1, Jonathan Trott b Ishant 22, Kevin Pietersen c Dhoni b Ishant 1, Ian Bell c Dhoni b Ishant 0, Eoin Morgan c Gambhir b Ishant 19, Matt Prior not out 103, Stuart Broad not out 74. Extras: (B-7, LB-8, W-2) 17 Total: (for 6 wickets decl in 71 overs) 269 Fall of wickets: 1-23, 2-54, 3-55, 4-55, 5-62, 6-107 Bowling: Praveen 20-2-70-1, Ishant 22-6-59-4, Harbhajan 21-1-66-1, Raina 6-1-43-0, Dhoni 2-0-16-0.
India 2nd Innings: A Mukund b Broad 12, RDravid batting 34, VVS Laxman batting 32. Extras: (LB-1, NB-1) 2. Total: (for 1 wkt in 27 overs) 80. Fall of wicket: 1-19. Bowling: Anderson 8-0-26-0, Tremlett 8-3-22-0, Broad 6-2-12-1, Swann 5-0-19-0.