Two early wickets from James Anderson and a pair of excellent catches kept England fighting on the third morning of the second Test, but an Indian lead of 273 was beginning to look daunting in Visakhapatnam.
The hosts started the day 171 ahead with all 10 wickets intact and both sides moved the game on rapidly as they moved to 130 for four at lunch.
Anderson was imperious once again as he gave England hope with the new ball, while Ben Stokes and Ben Foakes held on to brilliant takes, but with Shubman Gill riding his luck to make 60no the size of their eventual target was swelling out of their control.
Great work, boys!
Four wickets in the session
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— England Cricket (@englandcricket) February 4, 2024
Anderson picked up exactly where he had left off 24 hours earlier in India’s first innings, producing a sterling spell from the pavilion end.
At 41, and with no other seam bowlers in the side, he might have preferred a longer break between shifts but he showed no signs of weariness as he blew away the Indian openers.
More than half of a sold-out Sunday crowd were still queuing outside when he struck with his fourth ball of the morning, a beauty that stood up off the seam and hit the top of off stump. Home captain Rohit Sharma, who had pushed forward defensively, looked ruefully over his shoulder just in time to see the bails tumble to the floor.
Anderson, instantly into an unforgiving line and length, made Yashavi Jaiswal his next target. The 22-year-old was fresh from a stunning – possibly match-winning – 209 but was gone for 17 this time, driving waywardly and feeding an edge to slip.
When Tom Hartley had Gill lbw for four, England momentarily looked in control of the narrative. Gill reviewed the decision in hope more than expectation and appeared more surprised than anyone when replays suggested a thin edge.
He survived another close call against Anderson without adding to his score and gradually the momentum switched. When Anderson left the attack, the control went with him, with England’s inexperienced spinners unable to keep a lid on the boundaries.
Gill took the lead past 200 by launching Shoaib Bashir for six and dashed to 50 with back-to-back fours off Rehan Ahmed. A stand of 81 did real damage but Hartley ended it thanks to a moment of inspiration from Stokes, who chased down what looked to be a lost cause to brilliantly catch Shreyas Iyer (29) running back from mid-off.
Foakes followed suit, reacting instinctively to gather Rajat Patidar’s bottom edge off Ahmed, but the the size of the chase was growing all the time.