England fought back magnificently on the fourth day of the first Test in India, with captain Alastair Cook leading the charge. The opener crafted a patient and unbeaten 168, to lead his side to 340/5 at close of play.
The Indians won the toss for this match and chose to bat first, with Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwer Pujara dominating the English bowlers in the opening two days. Sehwag scored 117, his first Test century since 2010, and Pujara, in only his fifth Test Match, notched a brilliant and unbeaten 206. India declared at 521/8, with Graeme Swann picking up a deserved 5/144.
England's first innings was then completely decimated by the Indian spinners, with Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha picking up 3/80 and 5/45 respectively. The visitors struggled to 191, with only Matt Prior (48) and Cook (41) showing any determination to fight. They were subsequently forced to follow on, 337 runs behind.
The second innings, though, has been a vastly improved performance from the English. Once again it is Cook who leads the way and the captain took charge to close play on the third day on 74, and with his team at 111/0. Resuming on Sunday, the English openers held on for 12 more runs before Nick Compton (37) was found leg before to Zaheer Khan.
It wasn't all England's day though. Compton's dismissal triggered a top-order collapse, with Cook looking on as Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Samit Patel all fell within 76 runs of each other to leave England contemplating an innings defeat.
The visitors then rallied, with Prior (84 not out) resuming his partnership with his captain to steer England to what looked like an impossible overall lead. At close of play, then England lead India by 10 runs. Among the Indian bowlers, it was Ojha who, once again, was among the wickets. He picked up 2/102 from the day and was joined by Umesh Yadav, who registered 2/60.
The pride of having fought back so brilliantly should not, however, mask the realisation that the Test is still far from safe and India still hold all the winning cards. The pitch at Ahmadabad's Motera ground will offer Ashwin and Ojha considerable support on the final day and with the supporting slow/spin act of Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag also available, captain MS Dhoni will be very confident of winning this match.
Cook and Prior must bat out the day, or at least as much of it as humanly possible. Yes... Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad and Swann are useful with the bat and the trio managed a valuable 47 runs between them in the first innings... but to ask either one or all of them to bat out 90+overs in the subcontinent, against India's spinners, may be asking too much.