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Report: England vs India, 4th Test - Day 3

India wilt on third day, lose by an innings and 54 runs

In response to England’s 215-run lead the Indian batting lineup capitulated to Moeen Ali’s spin and caved in to the James Anderson-led pace attack for 161 runs. After wrapping up England’s first innings for 367 in the second session at Old Trafford, the visitors were bowled out for 161 in 43 overs on Saturday evening. After Anderson set the ball rolling with the wicket of Gautam Gambhir in the final session, the rest of the lineup succumbed to the England bowling without much resistance and now trail the series 1-2.

While Murali Vijay and Gautam Gambhir took guard, Chris Woakes opened the bowling with James Anderson with Stuart Broad being injured by a Varun Aaron bouncer in the over after Lunch.

With over two days left in the game, India needed to occupy the crease even as they looked to put runs on the scoreboard in order to save the game.

With their task cut out, the openers played watchfully and had put together 26 until Vijay was trapped leg-before by Woakes. Once again in the series, Cheteshwar Pujara made his way out to the middle early in the innings and took India to Tea with Gambhir.

But, the pair was sent back early in the last session of the day. Gambhir who had bided his time at the crease departed for 18. An Anderson delivery took the glove and was caught by Jos Buttler going down the leg side. In the next over Pujara was adjudged lbw off Ali. An over later, Ajinkya Rahane handed a return catch to the spinner and returned for one.

Virat Kohli was the next to walk back in the next over, edging Anderson to Ian Bell at second slip.

With the team floundering on 61/5, Ravindra Jadeja joined MS Dhoni in the middle only to walk back in the following over. The England off-spinner induced an edge off the left-hand batsman’s willow to leave India on 66/6.

India had lost five wickets in the span of 13 runs when Ravichandran Ashwin joined MS Dhoni who was yet to open his account in the middle.

And seven overs later, a brilliant diving catch by Gary Ballance at midwicket saw the back of the India captain for 27 off Ali’s spin. While Ashwin battled it out in the middle, Bhuvneshwar Kumar who had survived being caught off a Chris Jordon no-ball was run out an over later leaving India on 133/8. Looking for a second run, he was found short of his crease as Ali hurled in the ball from cover region.

A while later, Varun Aaron departed fending Jordon to the keeper and the pacer bowled Pankaj Singh off the next ball to bundle India out on the third day.

Earlier, England finished their first innings with a sizeable lead in the second session after resuming on 237/6 on the third morning.

Continuing from where they had left on Day 2, Joe Root and Jos Buttler kept India at bay and extended the lead until Pankaj Singh struck to end the partnership for 134.

The pacer was rewarded for his persistence. Pankaj claimed Root as his maiden Test wicket in the later part of the morning session and followed up with the wicket of Buttler to finish with two wickets in the morning. Post Lunch, a Varun Aaron bouncer saw Stuart Broad return injured while James Anderson’s dismissal halted the hosts’ first innings.

Root who was two runs short of his half-century when play was called off on the second day, collected runs off Pankaj Singh to fine leg in the second over of the day to get to the mark.

While MS Dhoni rotated the pacers, using them in short bursts in search of wickets, Root and Buttler steadily added to the runs tally. It was finally with the new ball that Bhuvneshwar Kumar created an opportunity for a wicket. However, Virat Kohli dropped Buttler who had edged the pacer to gully. Receiving a life on 34, England’s wicketkeeper-batsman continued to build on the partnership with Root. He got another life a few runs later while sneaking in a second run. He soon struck Bhuvneshwar through covers to bring up his fifty.

With the pace set, Root drove Varun Aaron to the ropes to take England past the 300 mark. But in the next over, became Pankaj’s first wicket in the longest format of the game. The ball going down the leg side grazed past the batsman’s glove and was caught by Dhoni to give India their first breakthrough of the day. 21 runs later, Buttler hit the tall pacer straight to mid-off to depart for 70. Broad who then came to the crease was yet to open his account when Lunch was taken.

He resumed the innings with gusto and had slammed Aaron for two successive sixes before finding himself hit by a bouncer. Done in by the pace and bounce while looking to pull, the batsman was hit on the face through the grille of the helmet and had to be helped off the field with a bleeding nose. Anderson then joined Wokes in the middle and the pair helped to add 29 runs before being dismissed. Ravindra Jadeja claimed Anderson lbw to end the hosts first innings.

Brief scores:

Day 1: India 1st inn 152 all out in 46.4 overs (MS Dhoni 71, R Ashwin 40, S Broad 6/25, J Anderson 3/46); England 1st inn 113/3 in 35 overs (I Bell 45*, G Ballance 37, V Aaron 2/26)

Day 2: England 1st inn 237/6 in 71 overs (I Bell 58, J Root 48*, B Kumar 3/47)

Day 3: England 1st inn 367 all out in 105.3 overs (J Root 77, J Buttler 70, S Broad rtd hurt 12, P Singh 2/113); India 2nd inn 161 all out in 43 overs (R Ashwin 46*, M Ali 4/39, J Anderson 2/18, C Jordon 2/65)

Man of the Match: Stuart Broad for his 6/25 in the first innings to set the game up in England's favour

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Playing this series was my target: Aaron

Indian fast bowler feels a 100-run lead will be manageable for India

Varun Aaron made his Test debut in November 2011, and then spent the next two and a half years recovering from a back injury. Now he’s back, bowling at fierce speed and troubling the England batsmen in the Old Trafford Test.

Before heavy rain and the subsequent wet outfield resulted in a curtailed second day, Aaron picked up three wickets from 16 overs. He dismissed Alastair Cook, Gary Ballance and Moeen Ali to help India claw back into the match after being skittled out for 152.

At the end of Day-2, Aaron said playing in this series was a goal he had set himself when he was recuperating from injury.

“When I got operated a year and a half back in London, playing this series was one of my targets,” Aaron said. “I am glad I am here, finally playing again and that I’ve had a decent match so far.

“I was bowling a lot in the nets when I wasn’t playing and I felt good even then. I am glad I could carry that rhythm into the match.”

The road back was a tough and painful one for the 24-year-old fast bowler. But he said having the right people around him made the process easier.

“I was really lucky to have a good support system. The BCCI really backed me during my surgery and my prolonged rehabilitation at the NCA. I also did really good work at the MRF foundation.

“After the surgery I was walking on thin ice in my attempt to come back and bowl fast again. I had great physios and trainers around me who made my road to recovery very easy,” he said.

Despite the various stress fractures, Aaron never thought of compromising on his pace. And that’s what makes him an asset to have amid the medium pace bowlers in the team.

“There is no role as such but there is a clear message – I have to bowl quick. The length of my spell depends on the situation. Bowling a six-over spell is not a problem but yes, short spells are always better,” he said.

The highlight of the second day’s play at the Old Trafford was the delivery with which Aaron got rid of Moeen Ali. He rattled Ali with a sharp bouncer and followed it up with a vicious in-swinger that knocked off Ali’s stumps. Aaron said it was his ploy to ruffle Ali up with short-pitched bowling.

“He did have a problem against the short ball in the previous two Tests,” Aaron said. “I watched those dismissals from the sidelines and I knew that if I bowled a couple of good bouncers, it might be tough for him. A good bouncer followed by a sharp full delivery is always an effective option.”

As the match goes into the third day, England have a lead of 85 runs with four wickets in hand. While admitting the hosts have their noses slightly up, Aaron said things could change very quickly in the morning session.

“England are ahead in the game right now but not by a vast margin,” he said. “If we have some quick wickets, even a 100-odd run lead is quite manageable on this wicket.

“The wicket has changed drastically from what we saw in the first session of the Test and I am sure it will get flatter as we progress.”