Updated: Monday, 21 July 2014 21:07 | By Agence France-Presse

Sharma drama leaves second England-India Test in the balance

India's Ishant Sharma struck off the last ball before lunch on the final day to end a stubborn fifth-wicket England stand that threatened to turn the tide of the second Test at Lord's on Monday.


Sharma drama leaves second England-India Test in the balance

Moeen Ali plays a shot that is later caught out off the bowling of Ishant Sharma on the fifth day of the second Test at Lord's on July 21, 2014 - by Ian Kington

It seemed England would get through the session without losing a wicket when paceman Sharma had Moeen Ali, taking his eye off a bouncer, caught at short leg by Cheteshwar Pujara for 39 made in nearly three hours at the crease.

However, Joe Root was 52 not out after a stand of 101 that took England to 173 for five at lunch.

England still needed a further 146 runs to reach their victory target of 319 but with a minimum of 60 overs in which to score them -- a run-rate of under three an over.

Root and Ali had come together with England in dire straits at 72 for four after losing three wickets for two runs in 20 balls on Sunday.

England resumed Monday on 105 for four, having only three times in their history made more than 300 in the fourth innings to win a Test.

And only once before had a side made more batting last to win a Test at Lord's, with the West Indies piling up 344 for one against England back in 1984 thanks to a brilliant double century by Gordon Greenidge.

Certainly, India would have started the day confident of recording their first away win in 16 Tests, with their last overseas victory coming against the West Indies in Jamaica in 2011. 

And were they to go 1-0 up in the five-match series, following the drawn opener at Trent Bridge, it would also represent only India's second win in 17 Tests at Lord's following their 1986 success at the 'home of cricket'.

England had collapsed on Sunday, with under-pressure captain Alastair Cook out for just 22 to make it 27 innings since the last of his England record 25 Test hundreds.

Fellow experienced batsman Ian Bell fared even worse, bowled for one, his run without a Test century now extending to 19 innings.

But Root, 15 not out overnight, and Ali, 14 not out, initially held firm in overcast conditions that saw the Lord's floodlights switched on.

Root did have a scare on 17 when he edged Sharma, who had dismissed both Cook and Bell on Sunday, just short of Shikhar Dhawan at first slip.

This was familiar territory for Ali, playing just his fourth Test, after he had so nearly spared England defeat against Sri Lanka at Headingley last month with an unbeaten final-day maiden Test century only for last man James Anderson to be dismissed off the penultimate ball of the match.

The left-hander went 27 balls spanning 44 minutes without scoring.

Root though showed his class by taking three fours in four balls off Sharma -- a straight drive, cover-drive and forcing shot behind point to complete a 122-ball fifty.

But just when England were really starting to worry India, Sharma took his third key wicket of the innings.

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