A day for purists only as England close in on that elusive series win

England 330 & 161-3 India 326-9 dec: Trott controversially in, Cook wrongly out, India in fear - the interest is all in the detail

The Vidarbha CA Stadium

For much of the past four days the enduring beauty of Test cricket as the greatest game in the world has proved elusive. A bland, slow pitch, offering encouragement to nobody except perhaps a Turner Prize committee determined to reward benign oblong shapes, has seen to that.

Yet by the end of the fourth day in the fourth and final match of the series between India and England, it had us back in its thrall. England spent five hours effectively batting out time to achieve their heart's desire of victory in India.

It was never pretty, though it grew less unsightly as the day wore on, but it was oddly gripping. The tourists barely rose above a run rate of two an over – it took 62 overs to reach that level – and were bent only on survival to protect their precious 2-1 lead in the series. Not much happened all day – and that would be overstating the action in the first session. The drama came in the little things. Each of the three wickets that England lost was accompanied by a frisson of either injustice or concern, sometimes both.

There were umpiring mistakes which the decision review system would have rectified, there were sharp exchanges and possibly sharp practice. And there was fear, always the most captivating component in any game. The unwholesome activity on both sides probably derived from that. The surface mocked everybody.

India need to win the match to retain an unbeaten record that goes back eight years, which itself was a minor blip in a sequence going back 13 years. It affected their method and their responses.

England ended the day near safety but not there. They were 161 for 3 from 79 overs, putting them 165 runs ahead. Jonathan Trott was controversially still there, having applied himself appropriately in making his second half-century of the series, as was Ian Bell, who was probably batting for his immediate future.

Trott was the object of India's ire for three separate incidents, including a no-ball he should not have hit, surviving a catch behind which all of India felt was out (it wasn't) and cross words with R Ashwin when he was backing up too far.

India declared their first innings at 326 for 9 after scoring 29 runs in an hour from 77 balls, and that with a bit of a spurt at the end. In the next hour England scored 17 for 0 in 13 overs. Both sides could and should have been more proactive and adventurous.

Runs were turned down as often as they were deliberately given away. What was going off out there was grotesque. The pitch was to blame for almost everything but the players had become ensnared by it so that it affected all their judgements.

The lunch interval was spent musing again on obituaries of Test cricket and what it was like in its pomp (much like this in terms of scoring rate, as it happened). It picked up a bit in every sense afterwards.

True, you might have had to follow the game for a few years to appreciate it. Coming to it for the first time you would have been entitled to wonder why it was like this after more than three days, the participants seemingly in a state of torpor which was bound to infect those watching. It was those little things that saved it.

Alastair Cook, the talismanic captain of England, was out early in the afternoon. He had scored his first run off his 27th ball and his second off his 54th, so his innings was perfectly measured as usual.

Except, for the second time in the match, he was not out. Wrongly given out lbw in the first innings, he was now sent on his way again by Kumar Dharmasena, who nodded his head and then raised his finger in response to an appeal for a catch behind.

Cook did not touch the ball and a review would have confirmed that. Dharmasena has had a poor game which has done nothing to augment his surprising status as the ICC umpire of the year. Perhaps he too was nodding off as Cook went to 13 from 93 balls.

Soon after, Trott was facing Ravi Jadeja when the ball slipped from the bowler's hand and bounced slowly along the ground in the direction of square leg. Trott might have left it alone, or picked up the ball and returned it to the bowler. Instead he advanced towards it, took aim and whacked it for four on the leg side. India seemed to be laughing at the time but it was an odd thing to do and it did not feel within the spirit of the game.

On the stroke of tea, Nick Compton was given out lbw to Pragyan Ojha. Compton had done a diligent job and it was the fifth time in the series he had scored between 29 and 57. Nor was he out on first glance because he hit it. The replay showed, however, that the ball went from bat to pad to gully, where it was caught. The right decision, then, was made for the wrong reason.

Kevin Pietersen was patient a while and looked determined to stay that way until he shouldered arms to Jadeja and saw his off stump trimmed. As long as Pietersen plays cricket his perceived weakness against left-arm spin will be raised and it was the fifth time this series he had been out to it.

Trott, on 43, was given not out by Dharmasena off Ishant Sharma in the face of an insistent appeal. At the end of the over Sharma and Virat Kohli angrily made their feelings clear, as will the match referee soon, no doubt. While handing out the fine he might also remind them that it was their side who declined to use DRS.

Soon after that, Ashwin warned Trott for backing up too far, reminding him of the four he struck earlier. It was all going off out there by then.

Timeline: How Day Four of the fourth test unfolded

4am GMT India resume

India continue on 297 for 8, and they hold on for nearly 50 minutes for 20 runs before Monty Panesar bowls Pragyan Ojha for three after the ball hits his forearm and then the stumps.

5.02am India declare at 326 for 9

The hosts declare four runs behind. Alastair Cook and Nick Compton come in, but England manage only 17 runs in the 12 overs before lunch.

7.38am Wkt, Cook c Dhoni b Ashwin 13

Cook shakes his head after being caught behind. He trudges off but doesn't believe he hit the ball, and 13 runs in 93 balls won't improve his mood.

8.38am Wkt, Compton lbw b Ojha 34

Compton makes 34 off 135 balls but is rapped on the pad by Ojha moments before the players depart for tea. Kevin Pietersen comes in to speed things up, we hope.

9.20am Sehwag drops Pietersen

A let-off for England, who are on 90 for 2. Pietersen edges Ravindra Jadeja, but Virender Sehwag fails to collect at shin height.

9.25am Wkt, Pietersen b Jadeja 6

Pietersen picks up his first boundary, but is immediately bowled, undermined again by left-arm spin, when Jadeja's straight ball hits off stump.

9.52am Dhoni appeals but England settle

Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott make some ground, at 123 for 3. Ishant Sharma celebrates M S Dhoni's catch after an edge from Trott, but umpire Dharmasena shakes his head.

10.01am Trott reaches 50

Things are tight, but Trott's half-century off 106 balls is a timely show of resilience in an attritional contest. It is also his 14th Test half-century.

11am Stumps; England 161 for 3

Bell and Trott hold their own, and England take a 165-run lead going into the final day, with Trott having battled to 66 not out.

Gerard Brand

Nagpur scoreboard

Fourth Test, Vidarbha CA Stadium (third and fourth days of five): England are leading India by 165 runs with seven second-innings wickets in hand

England won toss

ENGLAND First Innings 330 (Root 73, Pietersen 73, Prior 57, Swann 56, Chawla 4-69)

INDIA First Innings Overnight Friday 87-4 Overnight Saturday 297-8

V Kohli lbw b Swann 103

295 balls 11 fours

*†M S Dhoni run out 99

246 balls 1 six 8 fours

R A Jadeja lbw b Anderson 12

31 balls 2 fours

R Ashwin not out 29

65 balls

P P Chawla b Swann 1

2 balls

P P Ojha b Panesar 3

32 balls

I Sharma not out 2

7 balls

Extras (b5 lb7) 12

Total (for 9 dec, 143 overs) 326

Fall: 1-1, 2-59, 3-64, 4-71, 5-269, 6-288, 7-295, 8-297, 9-317.

England bowling spells: J M Anderson: 32-5-81-4 (5-1-21-1; 4-1-3-2; 4-1-7-0; 3-0-8-0; 5-2-16-0; 11-0-26-1), T T Bresnan: 26-5-69-0 (3-0-6-0; 4-0-13-0; 3-1-6-0; 3-2-5-0; 3-0-7-0; 2-1-7-0; 3-1-8-0; 2-0-7-0; 3-0-10-0), M S Panesar: 52-15-81-1 (10-3-18-0; 4-1-6-0; 6-4-2-0; 9-3-10-0; 4-1-7-0; 2-0-7-0; 11-3-17-0; 6-0-14-1), G P Swann: 31-10-76-3 (1-1-0-0; 6-2-9-1; 6-0-22-0; 4-0-9-0; 2-1-11-0; 12-6-25-2), I J L Trott: 1-0-2-0 (one spell), J E Root: 1-0-5-0 (one spell).

ENGLAND Second Innings

*A N Cook c Dhoni b Ashwin 13

93 balls 1 four

N R D Compton lbw b Ojha 34

135 balls 1 four

I J L Trott not out 66

153 balls 9 fours

K P Pietersen b Jadeja 6

30 balls 1 fours

I R Bell not out 24

67 balls 4 fours

Extras (b8 lb6 nb4) 18

Total (for 3, 79 overs) 161

Fall: 1-48, 2-81, 3-94.

To bat: J E Root, †M J Prior, T T Bresnan, G P Swann, J M Anderson, M S Panesar.

India bowling spells: I Sharma: 12-3-27-0 (1nb) (4-2-5-0; 2-1-1-0; 2-0-5-0; 4-0-16-0), P P Ojha: 23-10-39-1 (3-2-3-0; 2-1-3-0; 5-0-10-0; 11-5-23-1; 2-2-0-0), R Ashwin: 18-9-34-1 (13-7-19-1; 5-2-15-0), P P Chawla: 10-2-20-0 (2nb)(4-0-10-0; 6-2-10-0), R A Jadeja: 16-9-27-1 (1nb) (13-7-25-1; 2-2-0-0; 1-0-2-0)

Progress: day three: India: 100 runs in 51.5 overs, Lunch:146-4 in 73 overs (V Kohli 46, MS Dhoni 31), 150 runs in 76.6 overs, V Kohli: 50 off 171 balls (4 fours)., M S Dhoni: 50 off 137 balls (7 fours), 200 runs in 92.1 overs, Tea: 227-4 in 100.0 overs (V Kohli 77, M S Dhoni 75), 250 runs in 108.4 overs, V Kohli: 100 off 289 balls (11 fours), Close: 297-8 in 130.1 overs (R Ashwin 7).

Day four: India: 300 runs in 133.4 overs, Innings: 326-9 in 143 overs (R Ashwin 29, I Sharma 2). England: Lunch: 17-0 in 13 overs (A N Cook 1, N R D Compton 14), 50 runs in 29.6 overs, Tea: 81-2 in 46.4 overs (Trott 22), 100 runs in 57.4 overs. I J L Trott: 50 off 106 balls (8 fours), 150 runs in 73.5 overs, Close: 161-3 in 79 overs (Trott 66, I R Bell 24).

Umpires H D P K Dharmasena (S Lanka) & R J Tucker (Aus).

TV umpire S Ravi.

Match referee J J Crowe (NZ).

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'