Saturday, December 20, 2008

England bounce back as India bundled for 453 runs

With the help a 314-run stand between Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid, India on Saturday finished their first innings with a total of 453 runs on the board against England in Mohali. Bad light again played a spoilsport and stumps were called before England could start the chase on the second day. Gambhir, who had slammed fourth Test hundred on Friday to raise his second consecutive hundred at the PCA Stadium, became the fourth Indian to complete 1000 Test runs in the calendar year. Other three batsmen to achieve this feat are - Virender Sehwag (1445), VVS Laxman (1071) and Sachin Tendulkar (1047).Dravid came out of his prolonged slump to slam his detractors with a hundred. The former India captain, who averages 32 in 2008 in comparison to his career average of 52, slammed 26th hundred that is his fourth against England. His second hundred of the year came after nineteen Test innings as his last hundred came in March against South Africa (111) in Chennai.The duo of Dravid and Gambhir resumed batting with their overnight score of 179/1 on Saturday and added 314 runs for the second wicket. This was the highest partnership by any Indian pair for the second wicket. Their stay frustrated English bowlers who went wicketless in the first session.However, they bowlers were rewarded for their hard work and picked four wickets after lunch. England spinner Graeme Swann not only broke the lethal partnership but also picked three wickets. The first to depart was the Indian opener Gambhir. Gambhir came out to drive a short pitched delivery but the ball took the top edge of his bat and flew into the hands of Alastair Cook at short third man region for 179 runs.Dravid fell 22 balls later as Swann's next victim when he tried to clear the long-on boundary through the aerial route. He lofted the ball across the line to find Monty Panesar at mid-off. He went for 136 runs. Their dismissal brought 'hero' of the Chennai Test Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman out in the middle. Tendulkar tried to play sweep-turned-paddle but was struck on the front pad for 11 runs to walk back as Swann's third wicket. Laxman too was trapped in front of the wicket as an Andrew Flintoff-delivery rapped him on the pad. He fell without any addition to the score.Local boy Yuvraj Singh, who made his Test debut in Mohali in 2003, made 27 runs and added 40 runs with Dhoni for the sixth wicket before falling to Panesar. Indian skipper Dhoni too made an early exit. He tried to loft the ball but was caught by Owais Shah (substitute fielder) at midwicket for 29 runs.Panesar came back to see Harbhajan back in the hut for 24 runs. The Indian tailender went for a biggie but found Swann at mid-off. Zaheer fell as Flintoff's second victim as he lost his leg stump while trying to play a short stuff across the line. He made just seven runs. The English all-rounder wrapped the Indian innings with the wicket of Amit Mishra who was bowled for 23 runs.English openers Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss came out to begin the chase but poor light conditions saw them return without facing a single delivery. The third day's play will start on Sunday at 9:00 IST.

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