England take crucial 75 run lead (Lead)

December 13th, 2008 - 3:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan SinghChennai, Dec 13 (IANS) England gained a crucial 75-run first innings lead after dismissing India for 241 in the very first over after lunch on the third day of the first cricket Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, here Saturday.Resuming at their overnight score of 155 for six, Dhoni (53) and Harbhajan Singh (40) weathered the England attack with confidence to add 75 runs in 16.5 overs for the seventh wicket to guide India closer to England total.

However, once the partnership was broken, India lost two more wickets in quick succession before the last pair of Amit Mishra (12) and Ishant Sharma (8) knocked off some crucial runs as India reduced the leeway to 75.

While Dhoni batted sensibly with an occasional burst of aggression, Harbhajan played a typical cameo knock, but more importantly, he gave his captain excellent support to ensure that India reduced the margin.

India’s biggest moment of scare was when Dhoni twisted his left ankle while going for a single but soldiered on after receiving medical aid.

England bowled gamely but with little luck. Neither of the fast bowlers, Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmison, made much impression though both were generous with short-pitched deliveries.

Likewise, left-arm spinner Monty Panesar and off-spinner Graeme Swann did not trouble the batsmen until Harbhajan offered a tame catch to Ian Bell at short-leg off Panesar.

The ever-improving Panesar nearly had new man Zaheer Khan in the same over after umpire Billy Bowden turned down a confident leg-before appeal.

Flintoff had Zaheer plumb in front. In the next over, Dhoni lofted Panesar to Kevin Pietersen at mid-off.

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