NOTTINGHAM, England, Aug 21 (Reuters) - England were heading towards a heavy defeat in the third test against India at Trent Bridge as, chasing an improbable target of 521 to win, they struggled to 84 for four at lunch on the fourth day on Tuesday.
India’s seamers bowled with controlled aggression and intelligence and were helped by excellent catching as they removed England’s top four in the morning session.
England lead the five-test series 2-0 but the final two matches could now be real battles if, as expected, India finish off the task to pull one game back.
Patient accumulation was the order of the day for England but their shot selection was poor and they paid heavily for loose strokes.
Keaton Jennings went in the first over, the left-hander poking at a short, rising delivery from Ishant Sharma and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant comfortably snaffled up the chance.
Two overs later and Ishant was celebrating the removal of England’s other opener Alastair Cook who edged to Lokesh Rahul at second slip.
England badly needed a gritty innings from one of their top order but their biggest hope disappeared when captain Joe Root departed for 13 when his thick edge off Jaspit Bumrah brilliantly caught by Rahul.
Ollie Pope showed his inexperience with a poor shot, following a wide delivery outside off stump and finding a diving Virat Kohli at third slip.
It could have been even worse for England but Jos Buttler was dropped by Pant off Bumrah. Buttler was unbeaten on 19 at the interval with Ben Stokes on three.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond