England maintain control

James Anderson celebrates one of his three wickets, the scalp of Ravindra Jadeja

James Anderson celebrates one of his three wickets, the scalp of Ravindra Jadeja

First published in National Sport News © by

England's bowlers were granted just reward, and a little more from occasionally compliant India, for much hard work as the hosts stayed on course for a shot at victory in the third Investec Test.

James Anderson (three for 52) and Stuart Broad (three for 65) kept chipping away, and Moeen Ali picked up two bonus wickets, as India closed day three at the Ageas Bowl on 323 for eight in reply to 569 for seven declared.

The follow-on therefore remained a feasible option as England try to work out the likeliest method of bowling the tourists out twice on this benign surface to level the series at 1-1 with two to play.

Ajinkya Rahane (54) stood in their way longest, following up his Lord's century last week, after an early stroke of fortune on eight when umpire Rod Tucker did not detect a glove down the leg-side to Jos Buttler off Moeen.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni then held England up too in the evening session, to finish with a defiant and unbeaten 50.

Long before then, Alastair Cook preferred Chris Woakes to Broad in tandem with Anderson at the start of a gloriously sunny day.

Broad, perhaps feeling a small point to prove, struck in his second over when he got a short ball to follow Cheteshwar Pujara and take the glove as the batsman tried to leave but instead gave England's new wicketkeeper Buttler his first catch in Test cricket.

Murali Vijay had edged Anderson just short of second slip, resulting in a nasty blow to the left thumb and "acute bruising" but no fracture for Ian Bell - who stayed off the field thereafter.

Chris Jordan replaced Anderson but could not find his range from the northern end - so it was just as well for England that Broad was in the middle of a particularly testing spell, and one which proved too much for Vijay.

He had just beaten the opener on the outside as he pushed away from his body when, next ball, Vijay remained uncertain against a tight line and this time paid for it with an inside-edge down on to his stumps.

With Jordan still misfiring, Cook turned early to Moeen - a move which should have brought another wicket when Buttler took his second 'catch' but Rahane survived.

Instead, it was not till after lunch that England struck again, Virat Kohli continuing his mediocre tour with 39 - his best score of the series so far - before edging Anderson to Cook at slip.

That appeared sure to be England's lot for the session until Rohit Sharma blundered, five minutes before tea, advancing to hit Moeen straight to Broad at mid off to end a stand of 74.

There was just enough in any case without such self-inflicted mishap, thanks mostly to continued lateral movement in the air, to encourage bowlers that the next wicket always might just be on the agenda.

England knew nonetheless there would certainly be no fast track to victory, but they were helped on their way again with another important success gifted to Moeen when Rahane spoiled almost three hours of skilled determination by skying a pull at a long hop to substitute fielder Sean Terry at midwicket.

England were more deserving with the second new ball, but there was no progress for 18 overs - during which Joe Root was just unable to cling on to what would have been a brilliant catch off Broad, diving to his right at gully, when Ravindra Jadeja was on 14.

The left-hander counter-attacked, as is his way, often advancing to England's fastest bowlers.

It was with that method that he smacked his old foe Anderson past mid on for his fifth four to bring up a valuable half-century stand with Dhoni.

Anderson held his nerve and profited with full-length swing when he got his man after all - Jadeja lbw aiming to leg.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, three times already a significant sting in the India tail this summer, threatened to close out the day with Dhoni.

But as England tired in the heat and the equation narrowed to the follow-on mark, Broad summoned residual energy to have Kumar looping a catch via inside-edge and pad to a diving Gary Ballance at third slip - and perhaps keep his team on track.

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