Updated: Saturday, 16 August 2014 23:15 | By Agence France-Presse

India strike but England still on top in fifth Test

India fought back in the fifth and final Test to check England's progress at The Oval in London on Saturday.


India strike but England still on top in fifth Test

England captain Alastair Cook hits a boundary during play on the second day of the fifth Test against India at The Oval in south London on August 16, 2014 - by Ian Kington

England, who had been 191 for one, were 246 for five at tea on the second day -- still 98 runs ahead after skittling India out for 148 on Friday.

Joe Root was 11 not out and Jos Buttler 12 not out, with England, 2-1 up, looking to seal the five-match series.

India took four wickets in quick succession, with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claiming two for three runs in eight balls, as England captain Alastair Cook (79), Gary Ballance (64), Ian Bell (seven) and Moeen Ali (14) were dismissed. 

At lunch, England had drawn level at 148 for one, with Cook 56 not out and Ballance unbeaten on 40.

The first ball after the interval saw England go into the lead, Cook leg-glancing seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar for four.

Ballance then completed a 77-ball fifty when he deliberately uppercut Kumar over the slips for his 11th four of the innings.

That meant the Zimbabwe-born batsman had now scored three hundreds and three fifties in his first eight Tests.

But Cook, so fluent before lunch, was struggling and gave two chances before he was dismissed.

He had made 65 when he edged fast bowler Varun Aaron straight to first slip only for Murali Vijay to drop the seemingly routine catch.

Cook had made 70 when he was missed at slip again, this time by Ajinkya Rahane, off Ashwin.

Now the opener could have been forgiven for thinking that this would be the day he ended a run of 30 innings since the last of his England record 26 Test hundreds, against New Zealand at Headingley in May last year.

-- Mini collapse --

But he was still in poor touch and his luck ran out on 79 when he was drawn into a drive outside off stump by Aaron and got an edge that was well caught low down by Vijay at first slip.

It was the toughest of the three chances Cook had offered, with England now 191 for two after a second-wicket stand of 125.

Cook's exit sparked a mini collapse, with Ballance prodding Ashwin tamely to Cheteshwar Pujara at silly point.

Fit-again fast bowler Ishant Sharma, the hero of India's 95-run win in the second Test at Lord's, then produced an excellent full-length delivery that Bell could only nick to India captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. 

Ashwin struck again when Ali, trying to withdraw the bat, played on to leave England 229 for five.

England resumed Saturday on 62 without loss after Dhoni, who made 82, alone stood firm during India's latest batting collapse of the series. 

Cook was 24 not out and Sam Robson 33 not out.

However, Australia-born Robson had added just four runs to his score when, in the second over of the day, he was bowled on his off stump by Aaron after playing down the wrong line.

Ballance then got off the mark with a four and England's all left-handed second-wicket pair were barely troubled before lunch.

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