Chennai, Dec 20 (PTI) England got through to lunch unscathed, reaching 97 without suffering any early setback, as India looked for a breakthrough on day five of the fifth and final Test here.
Having already conceded the five-match series, England had their backs to the wall on the penultimate evening after Karun Nair notched up an incredible 303 to put the hosts in a commanding position, from where they could gun for a 4-0 series win.
Trailing by 270 runs after conceding a huge 282-run first-innings lead, an innings defeat was not out of question when the English openers made their way back to the pavilion at stumps on the fourth day at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
However, skipper Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings stood firm and succeeded in negotiating the Indian bowlers in the first session of play on what is by far the best batting surface in the series.
Cook was batting on 47 while Jennings, who had scored a century on debut in Mumbai, was giving the English captain company on 46.
Luck was on England’s side as Cook got a life a couple of overs into the day’s proceedings. The bowler to suffer was off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin as wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel failed to latch onto an outside edge from the left-hander’s willow.
As the ball turned away from Cook, Parthiv moved to his left but the ball brushed the gloves and fell in front of slip. The ball would have gone straight to Virat Kohli if Parthiv had not moved to his left. Cook was on 4 then.
The pitch isn’t exactly the kind where the spinners could extract big turn, but the duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja would look to make us of the rough in the remaining period of flay.
So far, even with fielders placed around the batsmen, they have not succeeded though Ashwin should have had a wicket to his name by lunch.
Cook and Jennings have been very watchful, showed the gumption to fight for a draw and though there was one clear chance, the pitch has nothing for the bowlers.
At the break, England trailed by 185 runs with all their wickets intact.