England veteran James Anderson is refusing to concede defeat just yet in what is almost certain to be his last Test series in India.
The 34-year-old seamer concedes that the next England team to tackle these conditions will have a much better chance than the tourists who, under Alastair Cook, are struggling to stop India wrapping up the series 3-0 with a match to spare.
After Virat Kohli’s superlative, career-best 235 had powered India into a 231-run first-innings lead on day four at the Wankhede Stadium – thanks too to a maiden century from Jayant Yadav (104) in a national-record eighth-wicket stand of 241 – only Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow’s combination of Yorkshire grit and flair extended proceedings into a final day.
Root (77) was the catalyst, once England had faltered to 49-3 at tea in Mumbai after India were finally bowled out for a ground-record 631, and Bairstow (50no) took his cue in a 92-run stand that helped England to 182-6 – albeit still 49 runs short of even making the hosts bat again.
Anderson will be required with the bat at least, and has not given up hope that he may yet have something to bowl at too.
India’s spinners are already responsible for another five wickets in England’s second innings, taking their series aggregate to 51.
But Anderson said: “I’m not sure they’re too difficult to handle. They’re obviously world-class spinners, but we knew the task ahead when we came over here.”
He hopes Root and Bairstow have provided a belated template for success.
Anderson added: “I enjoyed watching (them) bat. I thought they did it with real positive intent, and showed you can still score runs out there.
“We hope that’s given the lads down the order a bit of confidence going into (today) – because we’re certainly not going to be trying to bat out for a draw.
“If we’re going to keep this series alive, we’re going to have to try to get past them and put some pressure on in the fourth innings.”
Kohli and Jayant’s punishing partnership had proved a proud achievement for the Indian pair.