NAGPUR – James Anderson and Joe Root guided England into a healthy position in the final Test against India in Nagpur today.
Root’s maiden Test half-century had helped England post 330, while Anderson struck three times to leave India on 87-4 at stumps on day two – a deficit of 243 runs.
Anderson produced a snorting delivery to remove the dangerous Virender Sehwag for a duck with just the third ball of the innings. Graeme Swann, who had earlier hit a timely half-century, then accounted for Cheteshwar Pujara (26) – with Ian Bell taking a superb one-handed catch – before Anderson clean bowled Sachin Tendulkar for two. Anderson (3-24) then claimed the prized scalp of Gautam Gambhir for 37, with the opener edging behind to Matt Prior.
Earlier Root, normally an opening batsman, had looked every inch a Test player as he shared 103 for the sixth wicket with Prior. The Yorkshireman needed 154 balls to bring up his half-century milestone – however Prior’s resistance was ended after a rare lapse in concentration saw the wicketkeeper bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin.
Prior had reached 57 – with his half-century coming off 124 deliveries – but he was beaten by a straight one from Ashwin. India were celebrating again eight balls later when Tim Bresnan was trapped leg before by Ishant Sharma for a duck.
The 21-year-old Root continued to defy the Indian attack – however Piyush Chawla finally got the crucial breakthrough when he took a sharp catch off his own bowling. Root looked devastated as he walked off but his 229-ball 73 helped England onto a competitive first-innings total.
Graeme Swann made light of the problems with the pitch as he smashed 56 off 91 balls – including two sixes – before he was trapped leg before by Chawla, who then picked up a fourth wicket when Pujara caught Anderson for four.
Sehwag lasted just two deliveries before Anderson sent his middle stump flying – with the opener deceived by an inswinger.
Pujara’s exit was more controversial, with replays showing that the ball had clipped his forearm rather than his glove. That ended a useful-looking 58-run stand with Gambhir that had threatened to take the game away from England. And another beauty from Anderson saw Tendulkar’s poor run of form continue. Anderson got one to keep low as he removed the ‘Little Master’ for a record ninth time.
Gambhir had looked like he could be a thorn in England’s side once again – that was until he pushed at one outside off-stump and was caught behind.
At 71-4, captain MS Dhoni moved himself up the order in a bid to steady the ship. And the tactic appeared to work as he and Virat Kohli were able to reach the close with their wickets intact. (Sky)††