England reached the close of Day 2 with their second Test hopes in an improved state thanks to Gary Ballance's second successive century at Lord's in London.
The hosts finished their day at 219-6, needing 76 runs to hunt down India's lead after Ballance helped in transforming the landscape of this Test once again.
Going in at tea, Ballance's total stood at 51, per ESPN CricInfo, but by the time Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar had teamed up to displace him, a triumphant 110 was his tally for the day:
And Bhuvneshwar proved to be a particular bane on the English ranks, taking four wickets in total, which Cricket Record shows has put him in a class of his own during this series:
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (9) is the leading wicket-taker of this series - he has scored 157 runs at an impressive average 78.50. #EngvInd— Cricket Record (@record_cricinfo) July 18, 2014
After dismissing India for 295, Alastair Cook (10) and Sam Robson (17) could only muster 27 between them, with Ian Bell's 16 disappointing in familiar fashion.
However, third in the order, Ballance came to prominence on the same ground that saw him strike 104 not out against Sri Lanka the last time he featured here, proving Lord's to be a stomping ground of good fortune.
|Batsman||Caught By||Bowled By||Runs||Minutes||Balls||4s||6s|
|Cook||c Dhoni||b B Kumar||10||38||29||2||0|
|Robson||c Dhoni||b B Kumar||17||60||42||1||0|
|Ballance||c Dhoni||b B Kumar||110||293||203||15||0|
|Bell||c Jadeja||b B Kumar||16||71||56||2||0|
|Extras||3nb 2w 1b 9lb||15|
|Total||for 6 (86.0 ovs)||219|
The Zimbabwe-born batsman was helped by the contributions of Moeen Ali, whose knock of 32 formed a 98-run partnership with Ballance that was brought to its end by Murali Vijay, as England Cricket could attest:
WICKET Moeen Ali LBW to Vijay for 32 runs ending a 98-run partnership with Ballance. England 211-5 #EngvInd— England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) July 18, 2014
BBC Sport quoted Ballance as saying of his Friday performance:
It's a great place to play cricket. It's gone well this season. It was tough this morning, but once you get in, you can score runs. The pitch is getting better. They bowled well. I just tried to hang in, scrap and hope that the runs would come later on. If we can keep them in the field a bit longer, hopefully we can get a lead.
This hundred was different. We were in a sticky position, but to get the team back to a place where we might get a lead was a good feeling.
From 203 balls, Ballance registered 15 boundaries but was unable to notch a six in comparison to Ajinkya Rahane, who had managed the feat on Thursday in the buildup to his own century.
England's hero (thus far) will care not for such individual accomplishments, though, and he will merely take solace in the knowing that Matt Prior, Liam Plunkett, Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad have a chance to establish England's lead on Saturday.