Anderson Rocks India After England's Lower Order Shines
England backed up a strong batting performance with an incisive bowling effort to leave India under huge pressure following day two of the fourth and final Test in Nagpur.
Half-centuries from Joe Root, Matthew Prior and Graeme Swann hauled England up to a score of 330 before three wickets from James Anderson reduced India to 87 for four at stumps.
Root made 73, Prior 57 and Swann's 56 was his first half-century since 2009 and although Piyush Chawla finished with four for 69, India were up against it as England defied a slow pitch to make an excellent score considering they were 134 for five on day one when Root and Prior came together.
India then immediately lost Virender Sehwag (0) to Anderson, who went on to also bowl Sachin Tendulkar (2) and have Gautam Gambhir (37) caught behind as England assumed a dominant position.
bet365 now go 5/6 on England winning the Test, 2/1 the draw and 4/1 India to turn it around.
Earlier in the day, the visitors started on 199 for five, their overnight score. Prior and Root carried on with the sixth-wicket partnership, putting up 103 runs and swelling England’s total on a pitch that will only get worse for batting as the match progresses.
Both batsmen crossed the fifty-run mark as all seemed to be going well, with the Indians still in listless mode from the previous evening.
In the 115th over of the innings though, Ravichandran Ashwin finally got the breakthrough when he bowled Prior from round the wicket. He scored 57 runs off 142 balls, hitting six fours.
It was a double blow as at the other end Ishant Sharma trapped Tim Bresnan for a two-ball-duck and England’s tail was exposed. But they did more than just wag on this slow-natured pitch, taking the score past 300.
Swann had a major role to play in it, as he scored his first half-century since 2009. He put on 60 runs for the eighth wicket with Root, who was now edging closer to the three-figure mark, but he misread one from Chawla and offered a simple return catch, accepted with glee. Root scored 73 runs in his maiden Test innings, off 229 balls, with four fours.
Chawla then grabbed the remaining two wickets as well, Swann leg before for 56 and James Anderson caught by Cheteshwar Pujara for four runs. Chawla finished with four for 69, while Ishant Sharma (3-49), Ravindra Jadeja (2-58) and Ashwin (1-66) were the other wicket-takers. Pragyan Ojha was wicketless in his 35 overs.
England then backed up their first-innings score with a penetrative bowling effort to leave the Indian top order in complete disarray. Sehwag was bowled for a two-ball-duck, before Gambhir and Pujara rebuilt with a 58-run second wicket partnership.
They did not look comfortable at the crease though, least of all Gambhir, creating many comic running moments. Pujara was then ruled out, caught by Ian Bell at short leg off Swann (1-9) even as replays showed that the ball had looped up off his elbow. He made 26 runs off 72 balls, with three fours.
It brought Tendulkar to the crease and out of the blue the ball started doing a bit, taking turn and reverse swinging. Of course it was the difference in attack and bowling options that England had, which saw Anderson (3-24) bowl Tendulkar (2) for the ninth time in his career.
Then Gambhir edged one to Prior going for a drive, having scored 37 runs off 93 balls. He hit four fours. Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (who came ahead of debutant Jadeja) avoided any further loss of wickets till stumps.
Even so, it remains an arduous climb from here if the hosts are to salvage anything from the series that currently stands at 2-1.
Piyush Chawla on his return to Test cricket: "I am returning after four years so it was important for me to do well. I have been performing well in domestic cricket despite what statistics say. In Ranji Trophy, pitches aren’t always conducive to spin bowling and on green tracks you don’t get too many overs to bowl.
"Still I am very pleased with my efforts. England scored 50 more runs than we would have liked. We wanted to restrict them to 250-280. Yes our top order failed again, but there are two quality batsmen at the crease, so let us back them to do well."
Joe Root on his maiden Test fifty: "I was only told one day before the match that I will be replacing Samit Patel. I had no time to think or even prepare, just had a knock in the nets. India is a different challenge than playing at home, given the spin, bounce, turn and reverse swing. But you need to settle down and then score runs.
"I didn’t think of a hundred at all, but a maiden Test hundred in your first innings is the stuff dreams are made of. I am only thinking about it now, but not getting there is only making me more determined to get one."
© Cricket World 2012