Visakhapatnam | Indian spinners bowled tight lines to a dogged England opening pair as they crawled to 40 for no loss in 28 overs in pursuit of an imposing victory target of 405 on the fourth day of the second cricket Test.
Teenager Haseeb Hameed defended dourly to remain not out on 12 (1×4) from 84 balls while skipper Alastair Cook was unconquered on 28 from 84 balls with a couple of fours.
They did well to keep the five-man Indian attack at bay in front of a 20,000-plus crowd, the best turn-out of the match so far.
England now need 365 runs from four sessions as the task looks extremely difficult with only four teams to have made more than 400 in the fourth innings to win a Test.
Hameed was extremely sound with his technique, did well to duck the short ball and got into his position playing the copybook forward defensive shot.
India bowled in good areas but surprisingly the fourth day wicket which was perceived to be a rank-turner held firm as the English openers played each ball to its merit in their fight for survival.
On a hat-trick, Ashwin was brought in the fifth over but Cook played him without any fuss, while Hameed held firm as England managed to keep themselves unscathed in the second session.
Hameed who was run out in the first innings, was very solid in defence as India looked for something special to dismiss the 19-year-old.
Earlier at the stroke of noon, India’s second essay folded for 204 in an extended lunch session with the last pair of Jayant Yadav (27 not out) and Mohammad Shami (19) putting on 42 runs from 58 balls after Virat Kohli struck a glittering 81.
Kohli batted with his class and majesty stroking out shots all around the park in his knock from 109 balls, studded with four boundaries but before he could notch yet another century Ben Stokes’ one-handed catch at the slip ended his stay.
Looking effortless all around the park, Kohli went for an expansive powerful drive throwing his bat wide of his body as the ball looped high in the air and looked as if it went past the giant frame of Stokes at the slip.
Having caught Kohli in the first innings from the same position, the English all-rounder displayed some freakish reflex leaping high, throwing his body in the air before clinging on to the ball with his right hand behind his body in a high-class stuff.
With Kohli showing some frustrated emotion going back, Stokes remained non-chalant but by then the lead had surpassed 350 and Jadeja started playing freely to step up the run-rate.
Kohli departure after Stokes’ brilliance saw India losing two more — Ravindra Jadeja (14) and Umesh Yadav (0) — without any addition to the the tally.