LONDON: Debutant Hanuma Vihari scored a battling 56 to frustrate England as India reached 240-7 in reply to the hosts’ 332 all out on the third morning of the fifth test on Sunday.
The 24-year-old all rounder dug in alongside Ravindra Jadeja to share in a seventh-wicket partnership of 77 at The Oval as India edged their way back into the game after England’s day-two domination.
With the deficit lowered to less than 100 and with the new ball imminent, it was off-spinner Moeen Ali who finally made the breakthrough shortly before lunch when Vihari played forward and got a faint nick through to Jonny Bairstow.
Vihari, who was fortunate to survive an lbw decision when he was on nought on Saturday, struck seven fours and a six in his knock. Jadeja was 41 not out with Ishant Sharma on one.
India, looking to salvage a consolation victory having lost the series, began the day struggling on 174-6 after Jos Buttler’s 89 helped England to stretch their first innings.
An overcast morning looked tailor-made for James Anderson and Stuart Broad to hoover up the tail and earn England a large first-innings lead.
But India’s batsmen left the ball well and showed great discipline, even if they rode their luck at times.
It was especially frustrating for Anderson who needs three more wickets to move past Australia’s Glenn McGrath’s all-time test wicket record of 563 for a fast bowler.
The three leaders on the all-time list are all spinners — Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Australian leg spinner Shane Warne (708) and Indian leg spinner Anil Kumble (619).
Anderson threatened throughout his opening burst but enjoyed no luck with the ball regularly whistling past the edge or agonisingly over the top of the stumps.
Vihari and Jadeja picked off the bad balls though, with Vihari loosening his shoulders to drive a juicy Broad half volley for four, then edging another boundary two balls later.
He brought up his 50 with a scampered single off Stokes and then survived a huge appeal for caught behind before sweeping Moeen for a boundary.
Moeen hit back to leave India trailing by 92 with only three wickets remaining.