Centuries by Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli on day three of the fourth Test have set the course for India to win the Test and the series in Mumbai.
With three wickets in hand, an unbeaten Virat Kohli batting on 147, and a lead of 51 runs, India are already in the driver's seat. If India attack the same way with the bat as they did in the first session of day three, and see out a good session and half to register a sizeable lead, England will definitely be on the back foot heading into the fourth day. Add to that the fact that England will have to bat on a day four Wankhede pitch – known to be a crumbling, spin-friendly one – and the hosts will already be scenting victory.
The biggest positive for India is the way the captain batted – en route his 15th Test century, where he crossed 1,000 runs this year and 4,000 overall in this format. If Kohli can marshall the tail early on day four, and can help India score at least 150 runs more, they will consider it a job well done. Currently batting on 147, with Jayant Yadav (30 off 86) for company, Kohli must ensure that they take the game to the English bowlers and exploit the morning conditions as much as they can.
The pair have already added 87 runs for the eighth wicket, after coming together on 364-7, which will give home fans the hope to see another Kohli milestone on Sunday morning. If these two can manage to continue in the same vein, India can realistically hope for a match-winnings lead. In the Mumbai conditions, a lead of around 200-225 will be considered a healthy one. India have two days to score quick runs and put the English batting on the mat.
England will have to then put up another sizable score to set up a challenging total for India to chase in the fourth innings. Judging by how listless their bowling has looked, the team will need to regroup and put their best foot forward to have India all out in the first session. If India bat for longer, it will give them the definite advantage.
Earlier in the day, India had resumed the day on 146-1 and England could be forgiven for dreaming of a first-innings lead after restricting the hosts to 307-6 — before India responded with two key partnerships.
After tea, Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja (25) extended their seventh-wicket partnership to 57 runs. India's 350 then came up in the 114th over and the Indian captain then celebrated his 15th test hundred, running and punching the air, as he reached the milestone off 187 balls. Overall, he faced 241 deliveries and hit 17 fours. At the other end, Jadeja holed out trying to clear the ropes, caught off Adil Rashid (2-152).
England took the second new ball in the 130th over, and it could have paid off immediately but Joe Root dropped Yadav (on 8) in the slips off James Anderson. Yadav got another life later in the 139th over, when he seemed to have edged behind off Moeen Ali (2-139), but didn't walk. England had already exhausted its quota of DRS reviews by then.
On Sunday, England will hope to grab quick wickets as that will be the only chance they have of not losing this series. Over to Sunday to see who manages to make the most of the conditions.
Updated Date: Dec 11, 2016 06:48:37 IST