Anderson celebrates his birthday with five-for as hosts near victory

ENGLAND bowling coach David Saker insists James Anderson is hitting top form as England go in search of the six wickets needed to level the series on the final day of the third Test at Southampton.

Birthday boy Anderson finished off India’s tail to complete a five-wicket haul – his 16th in Test cricket – before England declared on 205-4, setting the tourists what would be a record fourth-innings chase of 445.

Captain Alastair Cook underlined his resurgence with an unbeaten 70 as Joe Root struck a quick-fire 56, with Moeen Ali snaring two wickets as India stumbled to 112-4 in their second innings at the close.

Anderson has received criticism this summer for some below-par performances but Saker believes the 32-year-old is now getting back to his best.

“We know he’s got the skill but if he backs that up with the control and putting the ball in difficult positions for the batters, he always gets rewards,” said Saker.

“We had a big chat about making sure we put the ball in a position where it is tough for the batsman, and we then use our skills to maybe move the ball and that’s pretty much what happened.”

Victory would be England’s first in 11 Tests and despite the likes of Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes going wicketless in the match so far, Saker paid tribute to the whole bowling unit.

“The impressive thing has been their attitude,” he added. “They’ve got stuck in and just gone and done their work and the results have come with that.”