England face record run chase despite four wickets on fourth morning of fifth Test
England picked up four wickets on the fourth morning but were still staring at the prospect of a record chase in their series decider against India.
After an attritional third evening nudged India into the box seat, things picked up pace on the penultimate day at Edgbaston as the tourists moved from 125 for three to 229 for seven.
That left India 361 ahead, already dwarfing the targets of 277, 299 and 296 England successfully chased against New Zealand in the past month.
But, with a win needed to square the series 2-2 and a promise to play attacking cricket to live up to, the hosts are unlikely to do anything other than go for broke.
Captain Ben Stokes was the inspiration behind England’s record fourth-innings success, hunting down 359 in the 2019 Ashes classic at Headingley, and has already made it clear that playing for the draw is not an option.
Cheteshwar Pujara had pieced together a careful half-century on day three, diligently growing India’s position of strength, but came out with greater intent on Monday morning. His new approach brought a couple of early boundaries off James Anderson but his increased tempo came with a price, and he fell for 66 when he slashed Stuart Broad straight to backward point.
Rishabh Pant, backing up a superb first-innings century, was on hand to take over the reins as he and Shreyas Iyer continued to attack. Pant had a life on 45, dropped one-handed by Zak Crawley at slip off Broad, but Iyer’s lively 19-run cameo ended when he pulled a Matthew Potts short ball to deep midwicket.
Anderson held the catch, becoming the sixth player in history to take 100 in Tests alongside 1,000 runs and 100 wickets. The rest of the names on that list, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Ian Botham, Carl Hooper, Shane Warne and Jacques Kallis place him in elite company.
Pant, meanwhile, galloped to his half-century before giving it away on 57. He was off balance as he attempted a pre-meditated reverse sweep against Jack Leach, feathering through to Joe Root, who did well to ignore the tangle of limbs and watch the ball.
Potts knocked pieces off Shardul Thakur’s helmet when the all-rounder ducked into a bouncer, then had him caught hooking at fine leg.
But every run raised the size of the challenge in front of England, with Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami helping themselves to a couple more boundaries before the break.
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