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England closing in on victory

By Dave Clark

England need six wickets on the final day to clinch a series-levelling triumph against India in the third Investec Test at the Ageas Bowl.

The tourists were reduced to 112 for four in pursuit of a notional 455 for victory, as the hosts showed no let-up in the excellent cricket that has seen them dominate this match from day one.

Earlier, England had swiftly polished off the India tail to secure a huge first-innings advantage of 239, before adding a swift 205 for four declared rather than enforcing the follow-on.

India began the day 246 runs behind on first innings with only two wickets remaining, and James Anderson had Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Mohammed Shami caught behind to complete a five-wicket haul on his 32nd birthday, finishing with 5-53.

Alastair Cook hits through midwicket on his way to an unbeaten 70 - the first time he has made two fifties in a Test for three years

Alastair Cook made 70 not out as England added quick runs, the captain passing fifty twice in a Test for the first time since 2011.

Joe Root also contributed 56 at better than a run a ball, before being bowled by Ravindra Jadeja to prompt a declaration – the left-arm spinner finishing with figures of 3-52.

India’s openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan saw off the new-ball pair of Anderson and Stuart Broad, only for the former to be run out attempting a quick single from Chris Woakes’ first delivery.

Dhawan knocked the ball into the off-side, and Vijay was casual in completing the run – a direct hit from Broad leaving him an inch short after the decision was referred to the third umpire.

Chris Jordan holds an excellent slip catch to remove Cheteshwar Pujara off the bowling of Moeen Ali

Chris Jordan then produced a sensational catch at first slip to get rid of Cheteshwar Pujara for two off Moeen Ali.

Dhawan had a lucky break when umpire Marias Erasmus turned down a Moeen leg-before shout that replays showed to be hitting middle stump, but his extra life was in vain as Root induced an edge to Jordan at slip a short time later for 37.

Moeen was producing some turn and sharp bounce, but it was one which held its line that accounted for Virat Kohli on 28 – Jos Buttler continuing an impressive debut by taking a sharp chance.

That left Ajinkya Rahane, who finished the day unbeaten on 18, and Rohit Sharma, who will resume on six, to play out the last half hour, with India needing another 333 runs tomorrow for an unlikely victory, while Moeen was the pick of the England attack having taken 2-33 from 13 overs.

Match scorecard  Live ball-by-ball commentary

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Evening Session

6.29pm - STUMPS! Ind 112/4; Rahane 18, Rohit 6 – The Ballance experiment sees Rahane pick up four through the covers, before he and Rohit see out a good final over from Anderson. It’s been another excellent day for England.

6.21pm - CHANCE! – Anderson puts down a sharp one-handed return catch after Rohit fends forward tentatively. Gary Ballance is coming on for a bowl.

6.15pm – Moeen goes round the wicket to the right-handers in the hope of picking up another wicket before the close with a change of angle.

6.05pm – Broad and Moeen are asking plenty of questions, but Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma look content to drop anchor for the last half hour of the day.

5.54pm - WICKET! Kohli c Buttler b Moeen 28; Ind 89/4 – Moeen is getting some decent turn, but this one goes straight and Kohli edges it. Jos Buttler’s impressive debut continues with a sharp catch.

5.38pm - WICKET! Dhawan c Jordan b Root 37; Ind 80/3 – Dhawan has had all sorts of problems with the off-spinners, and eventually succumbs as Root catches the outside edge and Jordan clings on to another sharp chance.

5.27pm – Dhawan and Kohli are just starting to get a bit of a foothold, so Alastair Cook introduces Jordan and Joe Root to the attack. Kohli gets away with a very bold leave to Jordan, the ball a matter of inches from middle and off.

5.11pm – Dhawan cracks Moeen through point off the back foot for four, but the spinner then hits him on the pad again. The appeal is turned down, correctly this time with the ball missing off, and the next delivery rips past the outside edge. Kohli plays a lovely straight drive off Woakes in the next over and follows it with a well-timed four through the covers.

5.01pm – Dhawan times Woakes through the off-side beautifully on the back foot for four. A Virat Kohli play-and-miss at Moeen in the next over brings up the India fifty with four byes.

4.49pm – Dhawan is a lucky man. Moeen wraps him on the front pad with a straight one, only for umpire Marias Erasmus to say no. Hawkeye shows the ball would have hit halfway up middle stump.

4.42pm – Moeen is causing the left-handed Dhawan all kinds of problems coming around the wicket at the Northern End and bowling into the foot marks outside his off stump.

4.31pm - WICKET! Pujara c Jordan b Moeen 2; Ind 29/2 – What a catch from Chris Jordan! Moeen Ali comes into the attack early, finds a bit of turn and bounce, and Cheteshwar Pujara’s stay is a brief one as Jordan takes a superb reflex effort at slip.

4.24pm - WICKET! Vijay run out (Broad) 12; Ind 26/1 - Dhawan had prodded Chris Woakes’ first delivery, and Vijay shows little urgency after being called through. What a bonus for England.

4.22pm - REVIEW! – Dhawan and Vijay attempt a quick single, Broad provides a direct hit, and this is very close.

4.15pm – Vijay goes to leave a Broad inswinger only for it to clatter into his front pad. There’s a loud appeal, but it wasn’t coming back quite enough.

4.09pm – Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dhawan and Vijay look intent on settling down for a lengthy stay. Anderson and Broad are gamely plugging away in search of a breakthrough.

3.54pm – James Anderson goes round the wicket to Dhawan, and beats him outside off. Broad then surprises Murali Vijay with a good bouncer that fizzes through with good pace.

3.43pm – England’s declaration brings about an early tea, so we’re in for a long evening session. Stuart Broad beats Shikhar Dhawan’s outside edge in his first over.

Afternoon Session

3.13pm - WICKET! Root b Jadeja 56 & END OF INNINGS! Eng 205/4 declared; Cook 70 -  Root cuts Jadeja for four, but is bowled next ball and Cook decides that’s enough. India will need an improbable 445 to win.

3.09pm - FIFTY! Root (38b 8x4 0x6) – Root moves back and swings Shami hard through mid-off to bring up a lively half-century.

3.06pm – Root unleashes the ramp shot off Shami to bring up four more for England, then hammers him over the top for another boundary.

3pm – Cook survives a big caught behind appeal off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Rod Tucker’s got that one right with the ball brushing the pad. Root then runs four to third man to finish the over.

2.55pm –  Root smashes Mohammed Shami through midwicket as England continue to press on.

2.41pm – Root and Cook both thump Jadeja to the square-leg boundary, and there is more encouragement as one turns sharply and runs away for four byes. The lead is exactly 400.

2.24pm – Root powerfully sweeps Rohit Sharma to the fence, then hammers him through the covers for four more.

2.34pm - FIFTY! Cook (93b 5x4 0x6) – Cook sweeps Jadeja firmly to backward square-leg, where the man in the deep can only parry it into the rope. That’s the skipper’s second half-century of the match – the first time he’s achieved that feat since 2011.

2.24pm – I’m not sure what bad karma Pankaj is being punished for, but his luck refuses to change as Cook edges past the two slips and two men in the gully. He’s now conceded more runs on debut without a wicket than any player in Test history.

2.18pm – Cook and Joe Root deal in ones and twos until the skipper works Jadeja fine behind square to register his first boundary for 34 balls.

2.07pm – WICKET! Bell b Jadeja 23; Eng 106/3 – Jadeja comes over the wicket and bowls Bell behind his legs as he attempts to sweep.

2.03pm – Bell takes England past 100 with a crashed four through mid-off off Pankaj.

1.52pm – England are going flat out for quick runs here, with Bell smacking Pankaj through midwicket and point for consecutive boundaries before disposing of Jadeja down the ground for four more.

1.44pm – Ian Bell, back from x-rays that showed his hand was buised rather than fractured, is in at four and plays out the last ball of Ravindra Jadeja’s over. Alastair Cook scores the first runs after lunch with a chop through point off Pankaj Singh.

Morning Session

1pm – WICKET! Ballance c Pujara b Jadeja 38 & LUNCH! Eng 80/2; Cook 29 - Ballance thrashes Rohit to the cover boundary, but the spinners are getting some turn, which will offer encouragement to Moeen Ali. Ballance gets a second poor decision of the match as he’s given caught bat pad by Marais Erasmus – replays show it was all pad.

12.51pm – Ballance reverse sweeps Ravindra Jadeja for four and a single two balls later brings up the fifty partnership. England’s lead is past 300.

12.42pm – Mahendra Singh Dhoni introduces the off-breaks of Rohit Sharma, but Ballance thumps him down the ground for six in an over that costs nine.

12.37pm – Cook whips Shami to the midwicket fence before Ballance brings up the England fifty with the shot of the day – an imperious straight drive for four.

12.32pm – Bhuvneshwar beats Ballance outside off again, but the batsman responds with a boundary through square and straight drive for four.

12.27pm – The introduction of Mohammed Shami to the attack sees Cook run a four down to third man. Ballance looks to be settling down after that tricky start.

12.11pm – Luck continues to desert Pankaj on his debut, the seamer beating Gary Ballance twice but the ball narrowly evading the outside edge.

12.02pm - WICKET! Robson c Dhawan b Bhuvneshwar 13; Eng 22/1 – Bhuvneshwar gets Robson with a lovely away swinger that induces a feathered edge to first slip.

11.49am – Robson and Alastair Cook both hit well-timed threes through midwicket off Bhuvneshwar, before England’s captain runs Pankaj Singh through the vacant gully region for his first boundary.

11.37am – Sam Robson thumps Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the point boundary to get England’s second innings up and running.

11.22am – WICKET! Shami c Buttler b Anderson 6 & END OF INNINGS! Ind 330 all out; Pankaj 1 not out – Pankaj Singh looks like a graduate of the Chris Martin batting school, but it’s Mohammed Shami who edges Anderson behind. A five-wicket haul for the birthday boy. England have decided not to enforce the follow-on.

11.10am - WICKET! Dhoni c Buttler b Anderson 50; Ind 329/9 – Dhoni was clearly intent on attacking this morning, but it doesn’t pay off as he top edges a pull high to Jos Buttler without adding to his overnight score. Birthday boy Anderson has the wicket.

11.05am – Jimmy Anderson’s first over the morning is not that of a man who’s been stuffing his face with cake, as the seamer causes Mahendra Singh Dhoni all sorts of problems with his late swing.

Pre-Play News

10.40am – The weather is set fair again on the south coast, where Mahendra Singh Dhoni resumes on 50 as India look to add at least 47 runs to their overnight 323 for eight in order to avoid the follow-on. However, Stuart Broad suggested last night that England may prefer a quick bat if they can get the two wickets required.

10.30am -  Good morning from the Ageas Bowl, where England will be looking to swiftly wrap up the India first innings and press for a series-levelling victory.

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