India were pushed against the wall on the second day of the third Test against England in Southampton, where they trailed the tourists by 544 runs with nine wickets left, and former captain Sunil Gavaskar ruled out a possible victory for MS Dhoni's men.
India, who are leading the five-match series 1-0 after winning at the Lord's let England get away to 569/7, before Alastair Cook declared. The team then lost opener Shikhar Dhawan to James Anderson, going to stumps on 25/1. With overcast conditions predicted for the next two days and Anderson producing prodigious movement, Gavaskar hoped India would bat out for a draw.
"India can't win this Test for sure. England have scored 569/7 and for India to get anywhere near that, they would have to bat for a day and a half. It would mean that we will be going into Day 4. It is not very easy for India to pull off a win unless there is a sensational collapse somewhere," Gavaskar told NDTV. "England certainly have the upper hand and they will keep the pressure on the Indians and the ball will keep moving because the forecast for next two days are overcast conditions. So it's not going to be easy for the batsmen." (Day 2 Highlights)
England pressed their advantage further after resuming the second day on an overnight score of 247/2. While Gary Balance went on to hit 156, Ian Bell roared back to form with a fine 167. However, it was debutant Jos Buttler who helped the hosts' cause, slamming an 83-ball 85, a fact that Gavaskar noted.
"England were also helped by the fact that Jos Butler was so aggressive. If he hadn't been so aggressive, they would not have been able to declare at the time they did," Gavaskar said at the end of another one-sided day's play.
The former India batsman, who became the first cricketer to score 10000 runs in Tests, said the Indian bowlers - particularly Mohammed Shami - looked tired and jaded. He also suggested India should consider replacing Shami in the fourth Test. (Related: ICC Investigating England Cricketer Moeen Ali's Gaza Wristbands)
"The Indian bowlers look tired. Yesterday was a hot day and today was tough. I don't think a lot of the bowlers are used to bowling long spells, except maybe Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Pankaj Singh is playing in a big match but he worked very hard. He was unlucky not to get a wicket. Shami has looked just a bit jaded, so India will have to look at that aspect when they pick the side for the fourth Test. But I won't blame the bowlers because it is a good wicket to bat on."
India might have lost their chance at the Rose Bowl, but Gavaskar pinned his hopes on a solid Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, who is due for a big score. Both batsmen remained unbeaten at the end of the day and will have to play key roles on Tuesday.