England bowlers have the better of first day of play

Thu, Dec 6, 2012, 00:00

England’s bowlers again made light of losing the toss as the tourists had the better of the first day of the third Test against India in Kolkata.

James Anderson took three wickets and Monty Panesar two to restrict the home side to 273-7. Gautam Gambhir made 60 before Sachin Tendulkar led the India fightback with a battling 76.

But Anderson had Tendulkar caught behind and bowled Ravichandran Ashwin late on to put England on top.

A day that had echoes of the opening of the second Test – India reached 266-6 after winning the toss in Mumbai on the way to a 10-wicket defeat – might have been even better for England had Steven Finn not fumbled a chance to run out Ashwin. But that was one of the few mistakes by the tourists, who were rewarded for patient, skilful bowling and sharp fielding.

By contrast, India were often masters of their own downfall, with the comical run-out of Virender Sehwag setting the tone for the soft dismissals that followed.

As a result, the hosts’ chances of making best use of a benign pitch showing no great pace look to rest on the shoulders of Dhoni, a skipper under pressure after the thrashing in Mumbai and the pre-match controversy surrounding the pitch at Eden Gardens.

Dhoni would have faced further criticism had his first-ball swipe at Graeme Swann not bounced just in front of Samit Patel at mid-wicket but, after that, he showed the same determined application of Tendulkar before him to move to 22 not out.

Tendulkar had made only 29 runs in the first two matches of the series and again looked scratchy in the early part of his innings, regularly playing and missing as Anderson and Finn - recalled to the side after injury in place of Stuart Broad - found some reverse swing.

With Panesar also tying the veteran down, he was restricted almost exclusively to nudges behind square on both sides of the wicket, but a fourth-wicket partnership of 79 with Yuvraj Singh looked to be tipping the balance towards India. However, it was a false dawn as England need three wickets to mop up on day two with a new ball that is only four overs old.

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