London: India lost three wickets in quick succession but fought back through Murali Vijay`s gutsy half-century to take their overall lead to 145, leaving the second cricket Test against England interestingly poised, here Saturday.
At stumps on third day, India were 169 for four despite a solid 78-run second wicket stand between Vijay (59 batting) and Cheteshwar Pujara (43).
Vijay is in company of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who survived a hostile spell from Stuart Broad to remain undefeated on 12 off 51 balls having added crucial 46 runs with Vijay for the fifth wicket.
The Tamil Nadu opener has shown tremendous patience during his 190-ball knock today which had seven fours but more impressive was his decisiveness while leaving deliveries outside the off-stump.
With England batting deep, it will be interesting to see what kind of target is set by the Indian batsmen. India will be aiming for a lead of 250 plus in order to make a match of it on a Lord`s track which will then help Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Co to exploit the conditions.
It was 6/82 was the main reason for India getting England out for 319 in their first innings thereby restricting the first innings lead to 24.
For England, it was Liam Plunkett, who started the collapse by first inducing a nick from Pujara, who again looked good for a big knock. Virat Kohli (0)`s error in judgement cost him dearly as the delivery he left jagged back enough to clip the bails.
From a relatively comfortable 118 for one, India were reduced to 123 for four in a space of three overs.
First innings centurion Ajinkya Rahane then got a howler from umpire Bruce Oxenford as a rising delivery from Stuart Broad hit his arm-guard before lobbing up as Matt Prior ran from his position to dive forward and complete a catch.
Shikhar Dhawan (31) again got a start but failed to convert it into a big score leaving his place in the playing XI for the third Test under scanner.
Vijay and Dhawan batted on an eased out pitch as they wiped out the deficit by the seventh over.
Dhawan hit four boundaries but a flashy shot off Ben Stokes brought about his downfall with Joe Root taking the catch at point.
Vijay in company of Pujara, however denied the bowlers any openings, looking to bat patiently for long in this third innings of the game, and brought up the 50-run mark in the 18th over. Plunkett and Moeen Ali were the other bowlers used in the session.
Earlier, Bhuvneshwar's second successive five-for figures helped him get his name on the prestigious Lord's 'Honours Board' after his teammate Ajinkya Rahane got his name up there on the first day.
The UP seamer's figures were second best by an Indian after Amar Singh's 6/35 at the hallowed ground back in 1936.
Ravindra Jadeja (2-46), Moahmmad Shami (1-58) and Murali Vijay (1-12) were the other wicket-takers for India in this innings.
On a pitch where Bhuvneshwar troubled the batsmen with his moving deliveries, his senior partner Ishant Sharma went wicketless after bowling 24 overs. While a few deliveries did beat the bat, the lanky seamer was guilty of not making the batsmen play on a quite a few occasions.
The morning began with England still adrift by 76 runs and only 4 wickets remaining.
There was a deep cloud cover over the ground and flood lights were switched on within the first hour of play. With the second new ball only 6 overs old from the previous evening, the Indian bowlers would have been licking their lips.
However Shami and Ishant were poor in their initial spells, losing all discipline from yesterday as they erred in line as well as length.
It allowed Matt Prior (23 runs, 42 balls, 4 fours) and Plunkett (55 not out, 79 balls, 8 fours) to score quickly and they did, hitting 8 boundaries in the morning, as they brought up their 50-run partnership off only 74 balls in the 95th over.
With a half-century and then wickets off successive deliveries, the plucky Plunkett certainly had a good day in office.