England have it all to doPaul Wood |
India had extended their overall lead to a commanding 283, before England had to bat out a testing 16 overs, of which Strauss and Cook handled successfully, finishing on 43-0.
Sachin Tendulkar top scored for the Indians with 91, while Sourav Ganguly, perhaps looking the most fluent batsman on show, made an attractive 79, before they were both rather harshly adjudged to be out by the usually excellent Simon Taufel.
Five batsmen out of India’s top six passed fifty giving the scorecard a solid look, yet none of them passed a century. Karthik, Jaffer, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman all made half centuries and contributed in India’s total of 481 all out.
Ryan Sidebottom was the pick of the bowlers in the morning session, constantly passing the bat of Tendulkar, and conceding a miserly seven runs in his opening nine overs. The left armer bowled beautifully and failed to get the rewards his bowling deserved.
The new ball was shared with Chris Tremlett, as Michael Vaughan thought his added bounce may be more of a potent weapon than Jimmy Anderson’s swing. Ganguly, however, brought his brief spell to an end when he hooked the paceman for the only six of the day, having previously cut him uppishly through the gully region.
It was a dangerous partnership developing for England, as these two saw India into lunch with the score at 338-3.
After the break, it was to be Paul Collingwood to have a bowl, and the decision was to be justified when Tendulkar failed to play at a shot with the ball striking his front leg. The disbelief on Tendulkar’s face suggested he thought the umpire had made an error of judgement. So it proved on hawkeye, showing the ball would have gone on to miss the off stump comfortably.
So a fortunate breakthrough, and it was not to prove the only one. With another promising Indian partnership building between Ganguly and the watchful, yet effective Laxman, Taufel gave another decision in favour of England. Jimmy Anderson threw one down the leg side, and Ganguly attempted a flick off his legs. An appeal went up for caught behind, but replays indicated no contact had been made, but Taufel thought otherwise.
Finally Sidebottom got some much deserved reward, inducing an edge from Mahendra Dhoni that gave Prior an easy catch. Anil Kumble was next, and he offered decent support to Laxman, whose easy on the eye strokeplay was frustrating the home side.
It was Tremlett that removed both of them. Firstly Laxman, who fell attempting a cut shot to a ball banged in reasonably short and wide, but the added bounce that Tremlett possesses undid Laxman and he edged through to Prior.
The ball that got Kumble was a good one, hitting exactly the right line and length that with respect to Kumble, would have troubled more recognised batsmen. That was eight wickets down, and five catches to Prior.
The last two wickets fell to Panesar, who plugged away all day. Both RP Singh and Sreesanth were trapped lbw. Singh’s seemed a fair shout, Sreesanth may have been a tad unlucky, although one does invite trouble when opting to leave the ball that would have gone perilously close to off stump.
So an imposing lead, and a tricky spell of batting for England’s openers. There were no real scares as Cook and Strauss negotiated the 16 overs expertly. Strauss was unbeaten on 21, Cook on 17. Sreesanth struggled with his run up, and did not look to be in any kind of rhythm, something India will be hoping to put right come tomorrow.
And so to tomorrow, another dry day forecasted, in front of another sell out crowd, and a day’s play that could be integral to the whole of this series. Despite India not taking a wicket at the end of the day, they are still in command, and England will have to bat for the best part of two days if they are to save this Test.
Alastair Cook 43, Ian Bell 31
Zaheer Khan 4-59, Anil Kumble 3-32
Sachin Tendulkar 91, Sourav Ganguly 79, Dinesh Karthik 77
Monty Panasar 4-101, Chris Tremlett 3-80
Andrew Strauss 21*, Alastair Cook 17*
England trail by 240 runs with 10 wickets remaining