England take the advantage

Matthew Hoggard produced a devastating display of swing bowling in the morning session to grab the initiative from India, who had only lost one wicket for 136 runs at the close of the previous day’s play. Although Mohammad Kaif and Anil Kumble fought back for the home side, Monty Panesar ended England’s day on a high by dismissing Kaif for 91 with the last ball of the day.

In the first over of the morning, Hoggard bowled a beauty of a delivery to dismiss Dravid: the ball nipped back slightly off the seam and reverse-swung in the air, leaving the batsman shouldering-arms as the ball rapped him on the pad. Hoggard had dealt the vital first blow, and added Jaffer just nine runs later.

The opener, who had reached 81 after offering a few early chances on day one, attempted to drive a beautiful outswinger from the English paceman, and edged it to second slip. To cap off a fantastic start, Hoggard trapped Laxman a ball later with an inswinging yorker. India had gone from 136 for 1 to 149 for 4.

Debutant Monty Panesar had bowled well the previous evening, displaying good drift and troubling the batsmen. Having almost dismissed Jaffer earlier in the innings, Panesar got the ultimate first Test wicket – that of Sachin Tendaulkar.

The Indian spin-maestro prodded forward to a delivery that turned and straightened a little – the ball flicked his pad before the bat, prompting Aleem Dar to send him back to the pavilion for a miserable 16.

Flintoff, amidst the joy of his team, kept a cool head and brought himself back on to have a go at the new batsman, Dhoni. He was instantly gratified, as the wicket-keeper drove loosely at a full ball only to edge behind to Geraint Jones. The dismissal took his team into further turmoil at 183 runs for the loss of six wickets.

Hoggard returned after lunch, and was on the spot once again. A reasonably full delivery to Irfan Pathan left the batsman and gave second slip a sharp chance that was well-taken.

The fall of Pathan united Kumble with Kaif, and the pair fought back late in the Indian innings, similarly to the way Collingwood had farmed the visitors’ tail so expertly the day before. The pair did not take many risks early on, but expanded their strokeplay as the bad balls inevitably came.

Although Flintoff and Jones both spilled chances in the field, Kumble played exceptionally, countering the pacemen and spinners with delicate and well-selected strokes.

He reached a deserved half-century, and went on to 58 before Harmison, who had proved largely ineffective throughout the day, managed to prompt an edge which Cook took well at first slip.

The partnership had brought the home side right back into contention. Kaif and Kumble amassed 128 runs together, and took their side from 190 for 7 to 318 for 8 – a significant recovery.

India closed on 322 for nine, as Panesar managed to take the vital wicket of Kaif at the very end of play: the ball pitched and bounced devilishly, leaving Kaif dumbstruck as he was castled.

England 393
Paul Collingwood 134, Alastair Cook 60
Sreesanth 4-95, Irfan Pathan 3-92

India 322-9
Mohammed Kaif 91, Anil Kumble 58
Matthew Hoggard 5-57, Monty Panesar 2-72

India trail England on first innings by 71 runs after three days

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