London, (AFP): Rahul Dravid and Venkatsai Laxman held firm as India eyed a record-breaking chase in the first Test after Matt Prior's unbeaten century had swung the match back England's way at Lord's on Sunday.
India, at the close of the fourth day, were 80 for one in their second innings. They needed a further 378 runs in a minimum of 98 overs on Monday's final day to reach their victory target of 458 - a run-rate of 3.85 an over.
This is the 2,000th Test of all-time and no side has ever scored more in the fourth innings to win such a match than the West Indies' 418 for seven against Australia in Antigua in 2002/03.
Dravid, who made an unbeaten century in India's first innings, was 34 not out, having opened in place of Gautam Gambhir who was njured fielding at short leg earlier in the day, and Laxman 32 not out at stumps. The two experienced batsmen's stand was so far worth 61.
It didn't look as if India would have to make fourth innings history when Prior came in with England having collapsed to 62 for five. But the wicketkeeper stuck with his natural game and made 103 not out off 120 balls, including a six and five fours.
It was Prior's sixth century in 44 Tests and second in as many at Lord's following his 126 against Sri Lanka last month. Stuart Broad, who'd led England's attack with four for 37 in India's first innings, gave Prior excellent support in an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 162 at nearly a run-a-ball as India's depleted attack toiled on a sunny day.
Broad, who bats left-handed but bowls right, demonstrated his all-round ability with a fluent 74 not out off 90 balls including nine fours. Prior pulled Suresh Raina for six to go into the 90s before a cover-driven four off the part-time spinner took him to his third Test century at Lord's - he also made 126 not out at the ground on debut against the West Indies in 2007.
As soon as Prior got to his century, England captain Andrew Strauss declared on 269 for six and with 30 overs left in the day's play. Broad's joy continued when he struck third ball to bowl Abhinav Mukund for 12, the left-hander playing on to him for the second time in the match.
India were again down to just three frontline bowlers as left-arm quick Zaheer Khan remained sidelined with a hamstring strain. Fellow seamer Ishant Sharma still rocked England with three wickets for one run in 16 balls before lunch on his way to four for 59 in 22 overs.
Kevin Pietersen had made a superb 202 not out in England's first innings 474 for eight declared. But on Sunday he was out for one when he feathered a steepling Sharma delivery to India captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Five balls later Ian Bell fell in similar fashion for nought.