England bowlers peg back India (Round-up)

December 12th, 2008 - 7:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin TendulkarChennai, Dec 12 (IANS) An aggressive England took command of the first cricket Test by leaving India struggling at 155 for six in their first innings, chasing 316, on the second day at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here Friday.India’s hopes of making a match of it rest on skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (24 batting) while England, whose attack bristled with hostility, would be looking to restrict their opponents on the morrow and seize a match-winning lead.

After Virender Sehwag (9) fell cheaply, playing on James Anderson, 29-year old debutant off-spinner Graeme Swann (2-35) put England on a roll by taking two wickets in his very first over, trapping Gautam Gambhir (19) and Rahul Dravid (3) at the stroke of tea to send India reeling at 37 for three.

Then followed a bright partnership between Sachin Tendulkar (37) and V.V.S. Laxman (24) as the pair added 61 runs for the fourth wicket in 17.2 overs before departing in consecutive overs as England took control of the proceedings.

Tendulkar, who became only the second Indian after Sunil Gavaskar to score 2,000 runs against England, looked to be in good touch as he hoisted Swann over midwicket for a six and then slammed two consecutive boundaries apiece off Stephen Harmison.

At the other end, Laxman batted as is his wont, all wrist and timing, only to offer a return catch to Panesar just when he appeared to have settled down. In the next over, Flintoff, coming on for his second spell, deceived Tendulkar with change of pace to induce a tame catch.

Indian hopes of avoiding a total collapse rose briefly when Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh patched together a 31-run stand, but Harmison, replacing Swann, struck. Yuvraj played distantly and edged to Flintoff in the slips as India tottered at 137 for six.

India would have to work hard on the morrow on a pitch that is increasingly offering sharp turn and some bounce while England would be looking to Flintoff, Swann and Panesar to deliver.

In the morning, England batsmen displayed plenty of pluck if nothing else while India, despite getting rid of the dangerous Flintoff in the very second over, failed to finish off the innings, a feature that is not uncommon with Indian cricket.

Flintoff offered a pad-bat catch off leg-spinner Amit Mishra to Gambhir at short-leg and it looked just a matter of time before the innings folded. Had Dravid pouched a straightforward chance that night watchman James Anderson, then on six, offered soon after Flintoff’s dismissal, India would have been in a commanding position.

Prior and Anderson (19) went on to add 42 runs for the sixth wicket before Mishra broke the partnership. Anderson top-edged an attempted sweep shot to offer Yuvraj Singh a simple catch.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh then removed debutant Graeme Swann.

England were far from finished as Prior and Harmison took the total past the 300-run mark with a 24-run partnership before the latter snicked Yuvraj to Dhoni and soon, Panesar was trapped plumb for Ishant to pick up his only wicket of the innings.

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