England will have to put on one of the great final-day displays if they are to claim victory at Lord's on Monday after India took control on day four of the second Test of this five-match series.
Yet more lower-order heroics from India saw Ravindra Jadeja score a quickfire 68 and Bhuvneshwar Kumar hit 52 to set England a target of 319 for victory.
On only one previous occasion has a bigger target been successfully chased in a fourth innings to win a Test match at Lord's, per cricket statistician Muhammad Sufyan:
England's task was made all the harder as India bowled superbly to have the hosts 105-4 at the close of play, with Joe Root and Moeen Ali in the middle.
Struggling skipper Alastair Cook failed once again at the top of the order as he edged behind having scored 22, while Ian Bell also fell short, being bowled for just one and continuing his own poor run of form, per cricket writer Lizzy Ammon:
19 innings without a century for Bell.— Elizabeth (@legsidelizzy) July 20, 2014
There is no prediction that can really be made for the final day of the Lord's Test other than an Indian win, which will inevitably put even more pressure on England, and specifically Cook as captain.
The only source of optimism for England fans ahead of the final day's play comes from the fact that the two men at the crease—Moeen and Root—have thus far in their fledgling careers proven to be cool characters.
Unburdened by the criticism constantly surrounding England's old guard, Root has scored two centuries in his two previous Test matches at Lord's while Moeen took his side to within a whisker of a heroic draw as he hit his maiden ton against Sri Lanka earlier in the summer, per Wisden:
Moeen Ali's century in vain as Sri Lanka snatch thrilling win off penultimate ball in Headingley to clinch series. http://t.co/51zZzqALva— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) June 24, 2014
Expect the pair to put up some fine resistance but fail to take England all the way. The fifth-day pitch will cause all kinds of problems for the England batsmen, and it is simply too much to ask for Root and Moeen to last the distance.
England bat deep these days and still have the likes of Matt Prior, Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad—all of whom have Test match centuries to their name—to come into bat.
But the Indian bowlers looked on fine form in the last session on Sunday, and Ishant Sharma looks set to pick up five wickets having already claimed the scalps of Cook and Bell.
Should Cook remain as captain?
Chasing down a plus-300 score in a fourth innings is a difficult challenge no matter who you are or where you are playing. The pressure of potentially extending their winless run to 10 Test matches looks set to be too much for the England team and India should claim victory with at least a session to spare.
Though not a fatal blow for England—a loss will see them 1-0 down with three Tests remaining—there will be many questions to be answered come Monday evening, the main focus set to concern Cook's position as England skipper.