India Fail to Capitalise on Promising Start in Eden Test

Kolkata, Dec 5 (IANS): India stuttered after a promising start as England bowled spiritedly to claim Indian wickets at regular intervals in the crucial third cricket Test match at the Eden Gardens here Wednesday.

Opting to bat on a slow and low surface which provided some turn to the spinners in the second session, the hosts were 176/4 at tea with little master Sachin Tendulkar (46; 98b 8x4) and Yuvraj Singh (14) at the crease.

Resuming at the pre-lunch score of 90/2, Gautam Gambhir and Tendulkar played cautiously before the steady looking Gambhir (60; 124b 12x4) edged an away going delivery to the slip. The bowler was once again Panesar who started to look threatening after the pitch offered him some help.

Tendulkar, who has been short of form in the series and without a hundred in his last 28 Test innings, looked scratchy as a few deliveries went past perilously close to his bat. The Mumbaikar was lucky to have edged an James Anderson ball wide of second slip for a four.

The bowler came back in the next over to snare Virat Kohli (6) when the batsman edged one to Graeme Swann waiting at the slips -- the score read 136/4 after 49 overs.

With the bulk of the top order back in the pavilion, the onus was on Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh. The left hander survived an early scare when umpire Rod tucker turned down a confident lbw appeal of Anderson -- however, the Hawk Eye adjudged him out.

Gradually, Tendulkar started to look good, hitting a few fine shots, even as Anderson bowled an inspired spell along with Panesar at the other end.

Spinner Monty Panesar (2/42) was the most successful bowler for England. Anderson was the other wicket taker.

Earlier in the day, led by a solid half century by Gambhir, India made a promising start.

England drew first blood in the 11th over when Virender Sehwag (23; 26b 3x4) was run out after a misunderstanding with his Delhi partner.

Both the teams made changes with Ishant Sharma replacing Harbhajan Singh for India while England brought in exciting pacer Steve Finn for Stuart Broad. Ian Bell in place of Jonathan Bairstow was the other change for the visitors.

Though the two captains had said on the match-eve that there would be initial movement for the pacers, it was not to be. With pacers hardly troubling the batsmen, Cook summoned spinner Monty Panesar as early as the eighth over but the batters played him with ease.

Gambhir who played a gritty 65 in the second innings of the Mumbai test for a lost cause, looked determined and played some crisp shots. Cheteshwar Pujara who has been in tremendous form in the series joined him after Sehwag's fall as the duo took India to 50 in the 12th over.

However, disaster struck in the 26th over when Panesar broke through the defence of the solid Pujara (16; 48b 2x4) with the score at 88. The spinner broke into a jig after sending back the most consistent Indian batsman in the series.

Unfazed by the twin dismissals, Gambhir got to his back-to-back 50 off 81 balls placing Graeme Swann in the cover region for a single.

The four-match Test series is tied at one-each.


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