London: The second cricket Test was headed for nail-biting finish with England needing 214 runs with six wickets intact on a tricky fifth day track as India rode on Ravindra Jadeja`s brilliant counter-attack to set a competitive target of 319 here Sunday.
It was a day when fortunes swung like a pendulum as England finished the fourth day`s play at 105 for four on deteriorating track.
If India manage to pull of a win, it will be their first at the `Mecca of Cricket` in 28 years having last time won here in 1986.
England lost three wickets in a space of 14 deliveries with an addition of two runs. From a comfortable 70 for one, they slumped to 72 for four.
Ishant Sharma (2/13 in 10 overs) removed seasoned Ian Bell (1) with an incutter while skipper Alastair Cook (22) did all the hardwork before fishing oustide the off-stump to give Mahendra Singh Dhoni a simple catch.
Mohammed Shami (1/20) also fared much better than the first innings removing centurion Gary Ballance (27) with an away going delivery.
While India have their nose slightly ahead, a lot of credit should go to Ravindra Jadeja for his belliegerent 57-ball-68 (9x4) that enabled India to reach 342 thereby extending their lead to a healthy 318.
Murali Vijay (95) missed century by a whisker while Bhuvneshwar Kumar (52, 71 balls) continued his stupendous all-round show. It was the 99-run eighth wicket stand between Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar that could well turn out to be decisive in the final context of the game.
At stumps on fourth day, youngsters Joe Root and Moeen Ali were at the crease batting on 14 and 15 respectively.
A rough has been created on one end with left-arm spinner Jadeja (1/32) looking dangerous for the first time with but turn and bounce off the pitch while the odd ball also kept low forcing Dhoni to stand atleast 10 feet behind to a slow bowler.
It will be an uphill task for England if they manage to successfully chase down the total which will be their second highest having chased down 332 in an Ashes Test at the MCG way back in 1928-29.
A successfull chase from the home team will be the second highest chase at this ground with West Indies having chased 344 against England in 1984 courtesy a crushing double hundred by Gordon Greenidge.
The pace with which Jadeja and Kumar scored was what hurt England the most. They added 66 runs in the first ten overs after lunch, with Jadeja reaching his first half-century in Test cricket in the 92nd over.
He got there off only 42 balls, hitting 7 fours, also bringing up their 50-run partnership in doing so. In the next over, the 300-run mark came up for India.
The duo scored at near six runs an over for much of their partnership and England had no reply as they altered their plans every over.
It didn`t help then that Jadeja was dropped on 66 not out by Ian Bell at midwicket off Stokes (3-51) in the 98th over.
But he had already made them pay and was out for 68 runs off 57 balls, with 9 fours, two overs later caught off the same bowler with Cook running back from first slip and completing a catch similar to the one Shikhar Dhawan took in the first innings.
The last two batsman, Mohammad Shami (0) and Ishant Sharma (0 not out), couldn`t stay long enough at the crease, but they gave enough support to Kumar to complete his third fifty in this series.
He got there off 65 balls, with 8 fours, in the 102nd over, and was the last man out. Plunkett (3-65), Ali (2-28), James Anderson (1-77) and Stuart Broad (1-93) were the other wicket-takers in this innings.
In the morning, under overcast skies with floodlights on, India started the day 145 runs ahead, needing Murali Vijay and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (19 runs, 86 balls, 2 fours) to bat long enough to see out the second new ball that was due after 17 overs.
Their 50-run partnership came up in the very first over of the day, while they quickly took India past the 200-run mark in the 75th over.
Then, Plunkett got the breakthrough with Dhoni caught at second slip, prodding outside the off-stump. The Indian team management then promoted Stuart Binny (0) ahead of Jadeja.
But that experiment didn`t last long as Ali was introduced in the attack to tempt the new batsman and he took the bait. Cook ran back from mid-off and completed a great catch to dismiss the all-rounder. India had lost 2 wickets for just 1 run in 11 balls and England took the new ball to exert more pressure.
It yielded Vijay`s wicket who was out caught behind in the 83rd over after playing a classic innings. At that juncture India`s lead was 211 runs as he fell agonisingly short of his fifth Test hundred, scoring 95 runs after facing 247 balls and hitting 11 fours.
His departure signalled the need for some quick runs and Jadeja was the man for the moment, playing some aggressive cricket, dancing down the track often to the medium pacers. Kumar, on 2 not out, meanwhile was dropped by Joe Root at fourth slip off Broad in the 86th over and went on to add 32 runs by the lunch break.