India facing a series whitewash (Lead)

August 21st, 2011 - 2:32 am ICT by IANS  

Gautam Gambhir London, Aug 21 (IANS) India find themselves facing the ignominy of a whitewash after England seamers ripped through the top order to leave the visitors struggling at 103/5 at the close of the rain-interrupted third day’s play of the fourth and last cricket Test at The Oval here Saturday.

The Indian batsmen once again failed to dig in their heels after England declared their first innings at the lunch time score of 591/6. Heavy showers during the lunch break washed out the second session.

Rahul Dravid was the lone Indian batsman who took the fight to the opposition and held one end firm with an unbeaten 57. He had skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (5) for company at the stumps, with India trailing by 488 runs.

Off-spinner Graeme Swann (3-27), who had a dry series so far, emerged the chief destroyer after Ian Bell’s maiden double hundred put England on the verge of a 600-run mark in the first innings.

To add to India’s woes, opener Gautam Gambhir suffered minor concussions after his head hit the ground while attempting a Kevin Pietersen catch Friday. He did not take to the ground this day forcing a shuffle in the batting line-up.

Dravid once again had to open with Virender Sehwag, who had gone out for a king pair in the Edgbaston Test. Though Sehwag saved himself from a golden duck, hitting two glorious boundaries on the backfoot, he once again failed to survive the first over. James Anderson trapped him leg before on the last ball to give England an early breakthrough.

V.V.S. Laxman, coming in to bat at No.3, edged a moving ball off Stuart Broad to wicketkeeper Matt Prior and India were reduced to 13/2.

Dravid and Tendulkar (23) briefly steadied the Indian innings before Swann struck. Tendulkar’s sweep shot off Swann popped up the ball and James Anderson swiftly moved across from the slip cordon to take it.

Swann then dismissed Suresh Raina and Ishant Sharma, sent as a nightwatchman, in quick succession to pile further agony on the visitors. England has already taken an unbeaten 3-0 lead in the series.

India had begun the day on a positive note, picking two early wickets through S.Sreesanth (3-123), but once again failed to keep up the pressure.

Bell (235, 364b, 23×4, 2×6), resuming at 181 overnight, glanced Sreesanth for his 20th four to bring up his 200 and go past his previous best of 194 against South Africa at Lord’s in 2009. He is also the third England batsman, after Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook, to score a double hundred in the series.

Bell was eventually dismissed by Suresh Raina, trapped leg before going for a sweep, and he walked off to a standing ovation.

Sreesanth was the pick of the Indian bowlers, running in with purpose. He dismissed nightwatchman Anderson 20 minutes after resumption of play. The fast bowler edged to Virender Sehwag at second slip and Sreesanth gave him a long, hard stare as he left the crease.

The fast bowler soon accounted for Eoin Morgan, who was named England skipper for the One-Day International against Ireland. Sreesanth, bowling from wide of the crease, lured Morgan into a drive and the edge carried to wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

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