Ishant Sharma India England Ian Bell
India fast bowler Ishant Sharma celebrates the wicket of England batsman Ian Bell on Day 3 of the first TestReuters

Once the nature of the pitch became clear on Day One of the first Test at Trent Bridge, a draw looked like being the most likely result, and after another battle of attrition between the batsmen and bowlers on Day 3, that particular result only looks a lot more likely, with England, despite a valiant effort from the Indian bowlers, putting on enough runs on the scoreboard in their first innings to increase the likelihood of the two teams going into the second Test on level terms.

Ishant Sharma showed just why he was tipped by many to be the leading bowler on this tour, bowling a wonderful spell under ridiculously difficult conditions for the bowlers to give India a sliver of hope of forcing a result in this game, but the tail-enders, this time for England, found their batting mojo again, as the lower order batsmen and Joe Root made sure the hosts would get as close to India's first innings total of 457 as possible.

Staring at a quick end to their first innings at 202 for seven, after some brilliant bowling from Ishant (27-3-109-3) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (25-8-61-4), Root and Stuart Broad (47) came to the fore, before a second straight long tenth-wicket partnership pulled England out of seriously troubled waters, with the hosts finishing the day on 352 for nine in 106 overs, trailing by 105 runs – Root batting on 78 (158b, 8x4), with Anderson (23, 31b, 5x4) giving him good company.

Plenty can still happen on the remaining two days, of course; however, considering the flat nature of the pitch, and the fact that Ravindra Jadeja was quite ineffective, even if there was some turn coming about from the rough, it would take a collapse of mammoth proportions from either team for this Test match to end up on the victory margin for one of the two sides.

It all began with a rather fighting blemish-free effort from the two overnight batsmen, who stayed compact with plenty of resolve to see through the entire first session. Sam Robson and Gary Ballance determined to survive, rarely took any risks in the first session, showing that dead bat to good effect.

Runs were very much at a premium, but as the first session wore on, runs slowly started coming, with Ballance and Robson looking to inch their side closer to India's first innings score. A total of 88 runs came in the first morning of day 3, with both Ballance and Robson getting to their half-centuries as they went into Lunch with identical scores of 59 each.

The post-Lunch session has been the match's best phase for picking up wickets, with England striking telling blows on the first two days, and that proved to be the case again as Aussie-born Robson was sent packing in the second over of the second session – Ishant Sharma getting one to dart in with the ball rapping the England opener in front of the wicket. Hotspot showed a mark on Robson's bat, but the finger was raised and his fighting innings of 59 (142b, 8x4) was brought to an end.

The wickets just kept coming in the session, as India, making full use of a ball change after their actual ball lost its shape, went in for the kill. Ishant was having one of those spells where he suddenly looks like a world-beater again, getting the ball to move around, with a bit of pace, which in turn caused the England batsmen all sorts of problems.

Having picked up Robson's wicket, Ishant would have his second victim of the day and innings, bowling a wonderful in-swinger to trap left-hander Ballance (71, 167b, 9x4) in front of the wicket.

England's hopes, to a large extent, depended on Ian Bell, their only real experienced middle-order batsman, and the right-hander, in terrific form, looked in good touch, playing a few classy strokes to keep the scoreboard chugging along. However, after an enterprising 37-ball 25-run stay, which included six crisp boundaries, Ishant, storming in and darting in one good delivery after another, would have his man, as Bell hung his bat out to a wide delivery from the bowler, with the ball catching the toe of his bat through to MS Dhoni.

That wicket put England on a precarious 172 for four, and in the space of another ten overs or so, two more wickets would fall. First to go was Moeen Ali (14, 30b, 3x4), who impressed so much with the bat in the series against Sri Lanka, with the left-hander misreading a short delivery from Mohammed Shami (24-3-98-2) which rose up only about to waist level to take a knick off the gloves and pop to Shikhar Dhawan in the slips.

Matt Prior lasted only six deliveries, before being given out caught behind off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar – the England wicketkeeper quite unlucky to have to walk back to the pavilion prematurely with replays showing daylight, and then some, between ball and bat. India cared little, though, as Bhuvneshwar dismissed Ben Stokes for a duck a couple of deliveries later leaving England on a this-looks-really-dodgy 202 for seven.

With just the three fast bowlers to come, India would have fancied knocking England off to a score below 250, but, as in the first Indian innings, the tail wagged, with Broad playing a typically entertaining 47 (42b, 9x4), while putting on 78 runs with Root, who after a nervous start, held one end up really well.

Bhuvneshwar finally picked up Broad, who seems to enjoy batting against the Indian bowlers, just three runs short of his half-century, and after Liam Plunkett also fell without making too many runs, bowled by Bhuvneshwar, Anderson came in and stitched another precious partnership worth 54 with Root to take England's score to over 350 and frustrate the Indian bowlers.

A draw looks like the result you would put your money on, but India will just wonder what might have been had they knocked England off when the hosts were teetering on 202 for seven.