India on brink of huge loss
By Sanatan Pani | ENS | Published: 09th December 2012 10:12 AM |
A stubborn Indian tail, marshaled by Ravichandra Ashwin, wagged with defiance, adding 80 runs in the last two wickets to avert what would have been a humiliating innings defeat within four days in the third Test against England here at the Eden Gardens on Saturday. But England reached the brink of what would be their second successive win in the four-match series.
Trailing by 207 in the first innings, India were in dire straight, losing six wickets for 36 runs and eight for 73 before. But Ashwin, whose batting potential has not been given the recognition it richly deserves, dragged the match to the last day, adding 38 runs for the ninth wicket with Ishant Sharma and 42 for the unfinished last wicket with Pragyan Ojha. After prolonging play in anticipation of the end of India’s second innings, umpires finally drew the stumps for the day under lights with India hanging there at 239 for nine and leading by 32 runs. Ashwin, who survived a stumping chance when on 19, was standing tall there on 83 (151 balls, 13x4) and Ojha was giving him admirable support on three.
In a day of fluctuating fortune, India started off on an aggressive note, wiping out the tail of the England first innings quickly, grabbing the last four wickets within five overs and in addition of only 14 runs. Resuming at the overnight score of 509 for six, the visitors were bowled out for 523. Ashwin was instrumental in terminating the mammoth England innings, bagging the last two wickets in successive balls. He first had James Anderson caught by Virender Sehwag in the second ball of his first over of the day and then trapped Monty Panesar lbw in the next ball to remain on a hat-trick.
Incidentally, all three Indian bowlers, who bowled this morning to a wicket each in the second ball of respective first over.Ojha sent back Graeme Swann, who drove a flighted ball that turned from outside the off stump but only to edge it to Sehwag, who held an easy cas in the slip. An off-colour Zaheer Khan finally tasted success by having Matt Prior caught by Dhoni with short and angled ball from round the wicket. This was 200th Test catch for Dhoni, whose overall performance behind the wicket, however, remained disappointing.
Fired up after the quick folding up of the England innings, India commenced their second essay on a flying note, galloping to 86 in 21.1 overs and raising hopes of saving the match. Sehwag, who got a life off Anderson in the seventh over, made his aggressive intentions clear by hitting the speedster’s the next ball for a four. When Panesar was introduced from the other end, Gautam Gambir welcomed him with a boundary.
The duo turned the heat on England with Sehwag smashing Swann for two fours in successive balls and Gambhir reciprocating from the other end, hitting Panesar for six and a four on one over. But immediately after the lunch break, things became tupsy-turvy for India as wickets fell in a heap.
Swann triggered the collapse, castling Sehwag in the first ball of the second session. The swashbuckling opener attempted a cover drive without reading the line and length of the ball, which turned and bowled him though the gate.
India squandered another wicket as Pujara was run out by direct throw from Ian Bell. Gambhir was guilty for the loss as he rushed out for the single, which was never there. This is second such error by Gambhir, who was responsible for the run out of Sehwag in the first innings. But Credit must also be given to Bell for his brilliant throw from the shot mid-wicket.
In the next ball, bowled from the other end by Swann, Gambhir survived a confident appeal for a low slip catch by Jonathon Trott. But Gambhir, who was appearing unsettled, did not last long. He edged an express delivery from Steven Finn to wicketkeeper Prior, who took takes a flying catch moving to his left.
But it was most disheartening that when the hour needed some one to take responsibility on his shoulder and rescue the team, none of the specialist batsmen obliged.
Sachin Tendulkar lasted six balls before falling to offie Swan, who had him caught at slip by Trott. The procession to the pavilion continued as Yuvraj Singh followed Tendulkar, bowled by low ball from Anderson. Anderson struck again two overs later, dismissing skipper M S Dhoni, who edge was pouched low at first slip by captain Cook. India last hope vanished when Virat Kohli was caught behind off a Finn outswinger. The tall pacer dealt another blow by trapping Zaheer lbw in his next over. Ishant Sharma showed a lot of guts and in association with Ashwin India’s last-ditch fight going before he was bowled by Panesar.
With defeat looking inevitable for India, it will be a matter of how long the Ashwin-Ojha duo survives and how much it adds to the slender lead. Hence the stage is set for India first defeat at the Eden Gargens in 13 years and first set of consecutive home Test defeats since 1999-2000.
India 316 & 239-9 in 83 overs (Sehwag 49, Gambhir 40, Aswhin 83 batting, Finn 3/37) vs England 523 (Cook 190, Trott 87, Ojha 4/142).