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England have found themselves at the centre of a ball-tampering storm after a bizarre incident in the second Test match against India at Lord's.
Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara produced a defensive masterclass to keep India alive - but England still look in charge after an enthralling fourth day's play.
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India were 6-181, a lead of 154, when bad light stopped play on Sunday with Rishabh Pant, their last recognised batsman, on 14 and Ishant Sharma on four.
However, it was an incident involving England batsman Rory Burns and fast bowler Mark Wood that stole the headlines and prompted an angry reaction from Indian fans on social media.
The ball was rolling back towards Wood at the bowler's end when the paceman side-footed it towards Burns, who was walking towards the crease.
Burns briefly put his studded shoe on top of the ball to stop it, sparking accusations of ball-tampering from Indian fans.
Indian legend Virender Sehwag was among those to hit out at England on Twitter, with former batsman Aakash Chopra also writing: “Ball tampering, eh?
Yeh kya ho raha hai.
Is it ball tampering by Eng ya covid preventive measures 😀 pic.twitter.com/RcL4I2VJsC
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) August 15, 2021
Indian sports presenter Vikrant Gupta posted a screenshot of the ball under Burns' foot with the caption: “If THIS isn’t an attempt to alter the condition of the ball, then what is??”
Plenty of other cricket fans shared the same sentiment as England copped a wave of backlash on social media.
— Vikrant Gupta (@vikrantgupta73) August 15, 2021
— kkp (@kish147) August 15, 2021
— Abdullah Laskar (@_trueabd_07) August 15, 2021
That looks like ball tampering, England. It sure does… pic.twitter.com/qLeICi5i2D
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) August 15, 2021
— Prashant Rathore (@HonestPrashant) August 15, 2021
— India Fantasy (@india_fantasy) August 15, 2021
— D P V E U (@dpveuuu) August 15, 2021
While the still image of the incident painted an ugly picture for the England players, the video appeared far less controversial.
England fast bowler Stuart Broad and members of the Indian team played down the drama afterwards.
“My comments are — Woody tried to nutmeg Burnsy by tapping the ball through his legs (a very common occurrence) & he missed and kicked the ball there by accident," Broad tweeted.
"Instead of screenshotting the pic, watch the video — quite plain & easy to see.
“As I’m sure you’re aware from watching the full footage — it wasn’t deliberate was it. End of story.
“Watch the video. Of course it wasn’t (intentional).”
India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour also didn't think there was much in the incident and seemed happy to move on from the drama.
“We saw it much later but I don’’t think it was deliberate,” he said.
England on top as bad light ends day four early
Bad light intervened with 25 minutes remaining when England skipper Joe Root insisted he wanted to unwrap a fresh Dukes ball for his quick men rather than stick with his own spin at both ends in fading light.
His opposite number Virat Kohli was getting increasingly animated on the away balcony as he gestured to the floodlights, and the umpires opted to lead the teams back to the pavilion and reconvene on Monday.
A second successive draw may be the likeliest outcome but both teams have a chance to nick a result.
India began their second innings on Sunday morning 27 runs behind and by the time they had erased that deficit, both their in-form openers were back in the pavilion.
Mark Wood (3-40) drew first blood when he dismissed KL Rahul caught behind for five with a clever change of length.
His next over turned out to be an eventful one which ended with Rohit Sharma being dismissed for 21.
Rohit dragged a chest-high ball from outside the off-stump and pulled it for an audacious six, but Wood had the last laugh in this duel.
The last ball of that over was a similar one and this time Rohit could not middle the ball, Moeen Ali taking a tumbling catch at deep square leg.
India needed Kohli to lead by example, just like Root whose unbeaten 180 was the bedrock of England's first-innings total of 391 - but Sam Curran had other ideas.
Kohli played a couple of gorgeous drives in his 20 before the left-armer found the edge of the Indian captain's bat.
Pujara, who made 45, needed 35 balls to get off the mark but soaked up enough deliveries to blunt the English attack.
Rahane soldiered on at the other end, aided by a reprieve on 31 when Jonny Bairstow spilled a tough chance at point.
They kept England at bay for nearly 50 overs before Wood ended Pujara's 206-ball vigil with an unplayable delivery that the batsman could only deflect to slip.
Moeen dismissed Rahane for 61 and Ravindra Jadeja for three to expose India's tail.
There was a worry for England when Wood injured his right shoulder while fielding and had to have it heavily strapped.
The rain-marred opening match of the five-Test series ended in a draw.
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