London, Aug 15 (IANS) Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane struck a fighting half-century and added 100 runs for the fourth wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara (45) but India had their backs to the wall in the second Test against England as they went to stumps on Day 4 at Lord’s at 181/6 in their second innings, just 154 runs ahead.
Stumps were called early, with eight overs remaining, as England decided to take the new ball in fading light and the umpires called it a day.
India were struggling at 55 for three when Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane stitched together exactly 100 runs for the fourth wicket but England claimed three late wickets as the visitors slumped from 155 for three to 181 for six, with only wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant (batting on 14) with ishant Sharma on four at stumps, and the tail remaining.
England will be relishing their chances as they were made to work hard in the second session as Pujara and Rahane added 49 runs between lunch and tea, scoring at an agonisingly slow rate as they repaired the innings with patience and caution.
Pujara (45) got out with the score on 155 as he was felled by a snorter by Mark Wood and gave a catch to skipper Joe Root at second slip. Rahane too got out for 61 after the hard work as he was caught by Jos Buttler off spinner Moeen Ali.
Ali stuck once more when he got Ravindra Jadeja bowled with a brilliant one that spun enough to deceive the batsman.
The three wickets in the final hour tilted the balance in England’s favour while India’s hopes will rest with Pant to score some quick runs on Monday morning so that India could set a target of over 200 runs.
Earlier, India were struggling at 56 for three at lunch on the fourth day when Pujara and Rahane came together to repair the innings. Both played cautiously, taking their time to settle in. Pujara was his usual sedate self, circumspect and cautious as he took 35 balls to open his account.
India added 49 runs to their score without losing any wicket in the second session with Pujara and Rahane keeping the scoreboard ticking. Both added 100 runs for the fourth wicket in around 48 overs, making the England bowlers toil for their wicket.
But just when it looked like Pujara had done all the hard work and would reap the benefit on the fifth morning, the Saurashtra batsman out, falling to a nasty snorter by Mark Wood that rose from the good length spot and took an edge off Pujara;s bat as he had already committed to front foot and looped to up from and edging it to Root at second slip.
On a bright day at the Lord’s, the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul were cautious in the first seven overs. Sharma was graceful in his straight drive and flick through mid-wicket.
The foundation of India’s score in the first innings came from the 126 runs partnership between the openers. But England shattered the plan by forcing Rahul to nick behind to keeper Jos Buttler off Mark Wood, thus breaking the partnership for 18 runs.
Wood was then pulled by Sharma for six on the third ball of the 12th over. But three balls later, Sharma repeated the pull, only to have the shot come off the toe-end of the bat and hit straight to deep backward square leg. It was the second time in the series that Sharma got out while attempting a pull.
Pujara escaped an early scare with the edge falling short of slip. He took his time to get off the mark off the 35th ball with a nudge through leg-side and received loud cheers from the crowd.
Virat Kohli was impressive in the start with his cover-drives and finding the middle of the bat on most occasions. But the Indian skipper poked at a delivery on the fifth stump, taking an edge to Buttler off Sam Curran, falling on stroke of the lunch interval.
Brief scores: India 364 and 181 for 6 in 82 overs (Cheteshwar Pujara 45, Ajinkya Rahane 61, Rohit Sharma 21, Virat Kohli 20, Mark Wood 3/40, Moeen Ali 2/52) vs England 391.