India A 197 (Shaw 62, Pant 58, Curran 5-43) and 11 for 3 need a further 410 to beat England Lions 423 and 194 for 5 (Malan 56, Pope 50*)
Curran earned figures of 5 for 43 as the Indians slumped from 189 for 4 to 197 all out in their first innings, with Woakes collecting two wickets to confirm his comeback after knee and quad injuries is on track. Then Malan and Pope made half-centuries – a second of the match for Malan, and Pope on his Lions debut – as the Lions made 194 for 5 in their second innings before declaring late in the day.
That decision paid off as Jamie Porter took two wickets and Curran his sixth of the match to leave the tourists tottering on 11 for 3 – although the Lions still have work to do to complete victory on the last day, with three of the four members of this team who have been included in India’s Test squad still to be dismissed.
It was Woakes who made the first breakthrough of the day after a deceptively quiet start, bowling Rishabh Pant for 58 after a fifth-wicket stand of 96 with Ajinkya Rahane when the wicketkeeper erred in judgement by playing no shot. That triggered a collapse as the Indians lost their last six wickets for eight runs inside five overs – four of them falling to Curran, who exploited cloudy conditions in a superb spell from the New Road end.
The Surrey allrounder, who made his Test debut against Pakistan last month, had Rahane caught behind down the leg side with his first ball of the day, then pinned Shahbaz Nadeem lbw with his second.
Mohammed Siraj left Curran’s hat-trick ball but Woakes struck again three overs later, bowling Jayant Yadav – the offspinner who scored a Test century against England in India two winters ago. Then Curran wrapped up the innings by winning two more lbw shouts in the space of three balls, to complete the sixth five-wicket haul of his first-class career.
India hit back when the Lions began their second innings, with Alastair Cook falling cheaply after his first-innings century, and Nick Gubbins also dismissed in a lively new-ball spell by Siraj.
Malan joined captain Rory Burns at 25 for 2 and the left-handers calmed things down in adding 57 until Burns edged Siraj to Pant in the last over before tea. Malan, who had made 74 in the first innings, completed another half century before he was stumped off Nadeem’s left-arm spin, and Woakes then joined Pope to add a quick 52 for the fifth wicket.
Woakes drove a catch to deep cover in the over after Pope had reached a 71-ball half century, and Burns declared to set the Indians a tricky mini-session in the fading light – during which Porter bowled M Vijay in the first over, then Curran had Prithvi Shaw edging to Malan at second slip in the second, before Porter won an lbw decision against Mayank Agarwal in the last over of the day.