India in trouble in Chennai cricket Test(Lead)December 13th, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS
Chennai, Dec 13 (IANS) England batted themselves into a strong position after snatching a 75-run first innings lead and then enlarging it to 247 by scoring 172 for three in their second knock on the third day of the first cricket Test at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, here Saturday.England, after restricting India to 241 in the first innings, overcame a disastrous start with Andrew Strauss (73 batting), who was let off when on 15, yet again playing the lead role in the company of Paul Collingwood (60 batting). The pair has added 129 runs for the unfinished fourth wicket.
It was skipper and wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni who gifted a life to Strauss as he failed to pouch a nick that Strauss offered off leg-spinner Amit Mishra with England tottering at 47 for three.
Strauss, the 31-year old former captain, who scored 123 in the first innings, held the innings together with characteristic grit.
Collingwood proved an ideal foil for Strauss as the pair grew in assurance and stature to frustrate an Indian attack that Dhoni shuffled in a bid to break the partnership.
As the duo prospered, the early devils that had led to the fall of three quick wickets, seemed to have evaporated in the warm sunshine that bathed the stadium, and it was not long before the Indians went on the defensive, with Dhoni, at one point, even doing away with the lone slip.
England, after a quiet start to their second innings, lost wickets in a hurry. Alastair Cook was first to go, edging Ishant Sharma to Dhoni while Ian Bell and skipper Kevin Pietersen departed in consecutive overs.
Bell was caught at short-leg off Mishra with the ball jumping off the spot and Pietersen was trapped plumb in front by Yuvraj, brought on ahead of Harbhajan Singh as England reeled at 43 for three.
The England batsmen played with much determination if not flair to the leave the hosts a huge task to save the Test.
Earlier, a 75-run stand for the seventh wicket between Dhoni (53) and Harbhajan (40) ensured that India would not finish their first innings too far behind England, but eventually, the hosts conceded a lead of 75 that could well hurt them.
Dhoni, batting with characteristic grit, guided the partnership even as Harbhajan indulged himself in typical strokeplay that was a cross between orthodox and innovative batting. But the pair did enough to bring India closer to the England total, but not quite close enough.
Once the partnership was broken, with Harbhajan caught in the leg-trap, the end came about fairly swiftly.
Flintoff, undoubtedly, was the pick of the England bowlers. He tested the batsmen with the short ball and also some clever variations. Generating fair bit of pace, Flintoff did trouble the Indians and came away with a deserving haul of three wickets.
Of the other England bowlers, left-arm spinner Monty Panesar bowled steadily and worked hard for his three wickets. Interestingly, the Graeme Swann, the debutant off-spinner, whose two wickets in his very first over last evening rocked India, sent down just two overs Saturday.