NAGPUR: England tightened their grip on the Nagpur Test as they reduced India to 87 for 4 on day two yesterday. After posting 330 on a tough wicket, the tourist bowlers got the start they needed with James Anderson getting through the defenses of Virender Sehwag off the third ball of the innings.
Gautam Gambhir and Chesteshwar Pujara played positively for a stand of 64 runs before Graeme Swann saw the back of Pujara for 26 as Ian Bell dove to his right to take a low catch at short leg. However, replays showed that the ball hadn’t come off his bat and that umpire Rod Tucker got it all wrong. Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir’s wickets in quick succession then put India in a miserable position.
Tendulkar after an uncomfortable stint at the crease played on off Anderson. It was the ninth time that the England pacer removed the batsman in Tests, the highest by any bowler. Gambhir, who completed his 4,000 Test runs during his innings of 37, edged one straight through to wicketkeeper Matt Prior to leave India reeling at 71 for 4. Virat Kohli (11) and MS Dhoni (8) were at the crease at the close of play.
Earlier in the second session, Piyush Chawla hoovered up the English tail and returned with career-best figures of 4 for 69. The leg-spinner, playing his first Test since April 2008, sprung into action with the wicket of debutant Joe Root as the 21-year-old gave a simple catch to the bowler while attempting a drive on the leg-side. Root made 73 and impressed one and all with his technique during his 202-ball innings.
After the end of a 60-run partnership with Root for the eighth wicket, Graeme Swann cut loose and hit a few big shots and completed his fifth fifty. However, soon after his fifty he was trapped lbw by Chawla as he tried to reverse-sweep a flipper. Swann made 56. Anderson was the last English wicket to go as Pujara took a simple catch at short-leg. Ishant Sharma took 3 for 49, debutant Ravindra Jadeja 2 for 58, while R Ashwin finished with 1 for 66.
In the morning session, India picked up two wickets in quick succession but it was still England who finished it in good cheer.
The visitors went into lunch at 277 for 7. The tourists, resuming the day on 199 for 5, threatened to take the game out of India’s control with the partnership between Matt Prior and Root. They batted with extreme caution on a tricky pitch and completed their fifties to take their team to 241 when Ashwin broke their threatening 103-run partnership.
The Indian offspinner cleaned up Prior with a straight one as the England wicketkeeper played for turn. Ishant, who picked up two wickets on day one, then sent packing Tim Bresnan for a duck in the very next over. The ball cut back in viciously and Bresnan found himself trapped in front of the wickets.