England starts the fourth day’s play in a commanding position, nearly two hundred runs ahead and hoping to take the match away from the Indians. Unfortunately, that is not how the day began, as Ishant Sharma forced his way through England’s middle order, but it was Kumar who struck early on with the wicket of Alistair Cook with a ball on the perfect line and length, which he edged to Dhoni behind the stumps.
Strauss followed lbw to Harbajan attempting a sweep just as a partnership with Trott was beginning to blossom. The following over Sharma dismissed Pieterson with an excellent short delivery, which rose sharply. This signalled a renaissance of India’s fortunes in the test, as Sharma produced spell of fast bowling, which dismissed Bell a few balls later when he pushed at a delivery outside off stump. At this stage England were 55-4 and in danger of setting an easy chase for the Indian side.
Luckily for England their “Mr Reliable,” Jonathon Trott was still in the middle. This didn’t last for long as Sharma produced a full, fast and straight delivery to bowl Trott. During this period Sharma took three wickets off sixteen balls and conceded only one run. India were finally showing everyone why they are the top ranked side in the world. Morgan and Prior were delighted to see England into the lunch break without losing another wicket.
They resumed after lunch on 72-5 to face the gentle spin of Raina. Inexplicably, Sharma was not brought on straight after the lunch break despite producing a blinding spell of quick bowling. This decision back fired, as Morgan and Prior began to dig England out of a dire situation. They pushed the scoreboard on to 107 before Morgan mistimed a pull off Sharma and was caught by Gambhir diving forward from mid-wicket.
At this point England needed Prior to deliver a match saving hundred and that is exactly what he did. With ample support provided by Broad; he begins to play his shots and finally start to increase England’s lead significantly. The Indian bowlers were still testing the batsmen with a number of balls beating the bat and a few mistimed shots falling out of reach of Indian fielders.
Half way through the afternoon session India’s injury woes got worse, as Gambhir took an almighty hit on the elbow at short leg. He had to leave the field. This seemed to be the turning point as the momentum shifted and the Indian seam bowlers started to tire. Prior and Broad start to capitalise with some excellent stroke play. A single off Raina brings Prior to a thoroughly deserved fifty, as he continues to stake his claim as the best wicket keeper batsman in the world. At tea England are 174-6 with a lead of 362.
Sachin Tendulkar arrives to field after the tea interval having recovered from his virus just in time to see Prior take full advantage of the exhausted Indian bowlers. England really begin to push their advantage, as the scoring rate increases. As England near a lead of 400, Broad reaches his fifty. A landmark that he is reaching with increasing regularity.
With the Indian bowlers tiring Dhoni again turned to the part-timers, Raina and himself to try and get a breakthrough. Broad is merciless when facing the part-timers crunching two fours through the covers before handing the strike to Prior who is now on 99. The very next ball he reaches his third Lord’s century with his trademark square cut for four. England decided to declare with a lead of 458.India now have to bat to save the test, with a huge total to chase their chance of winning this match rates as slim to none.
Due to India’s mounting injury problems Dravid joins Mukund opening the batting. Tremlett and Anderson open the bowling, both bowl well. Tremlett draws a couple of edges off Dravid, but neither carry to the slips. The breakthrough occurred when Broad, who has been on fire all match, began his first spell of the innings. He bowled Mukund who dragged on trying to execute an expansive off drive.
The pressure continues to mount with the ball beating the bat every few balls to the delight of the Lord’s faithful. Despite the excellent bowling the Indian batsmen manage to survive. England brings Swann into the attack with India at 47-1. The Indian batsmen were determined to attack Swann and he found himself lofted over mid-wicket for four by Laxman. Dravid joined in with a beautiful back footed cover drive for three runs. This recovery from India allows them to reach 80-1 at the close of the day.
India need 378 runs to win and England need 9 wickets. If England continues to bowl the way they have all match, then surely it is only a matter of time before the wickets start tumbling. India will have to bat out of their skins to save the match, especially as Gambhir has a nasty knock on his elbow and Tendulkar will not be allowed to bat until three wickets are down. This is England’s best chance of getting a lead in the series and if they don’t take it, they don’t deserve to be the world’s number one side.