Nagpur, Dec 17: England inched closer to securing their first Test series victory on Indian soil in 28 years by reaching 240/3 in their second essay before lunch as the fourth and final Test dragged towards a tame draw here today.
At lunch, the visitors had advanced from their overnight second innings score of 161 for 3 to take an overall lead of 244 over the home side. The English lead India 2-1.
Jonathan Trott was unconquered on 106, his eighth 100 in 38 Tests and first of the current series, after commencing the day at 66 while Ian Bell was not out on a fluent 61, his second half century in India.
Trott has played for five hours, faced 248 balls and hit 14 fours, while Bell has batted for 213 minutes, struck 10 fours in 160 balls and the duo has added 146 runs for the unfinished fourth wicket off 329 balls.
With only two more sessions left to bring down curtains on the rubber and the visiting team batsmen hardly troubled by the toothless Indian attack on a slow pitch, England were almost past the finish line to win their first series in India since the 1984-85 triumph by David Gower's men.
Incidentally, just like Alastair Cook and his men have done in this rubber, Gower's outfit too rebounded after losing the opening Test. In the current rubber, England lost the Ahmedabad Test before bouncing back to square the series at Mumbai and then clinch an unassailable 2-1 lead at Kolkata.
When play started this morning, England stuck firmly to the task of batting India out of the game on the final day of the series and clinch the four-match rubber.
The visitors, in contrast to the run-crawl yesterday, were a lot more positive in their approach with Ian Bell, in particular, playing some superb carpet drives and a glorious pull shot off Ishant Sharma on the wicket of low bounce.
He was the more aggressive partner this morning in his fourth-wicket century stand with the 31-year-old South Africa-born Trott that was raised when Bell off-drove R Ashwin fluently to the rope.