Collingwood and Strauss put on 129 to boost England

India 241 v England 315 & 172-3
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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood put on 129 today to end the third day of the opening Test against India with England in a strong position.

Strauss, who hit a determined 123 in the first innings, guided England out of a potentially perilous position, reaching 73 not out at the end of play. Collingwood finished the day 60 not out.

But England's progress had not always been smooth - with India claiming two wickets in six balls to remove Ian Bell and captain Kevin Pietersen and leave them reeling on 43 for three shortly before tea.

The tourists' troubles began with Alastair Cook edging Ishant Sharma behind in the ninth over - before India's spinners began to become influential by striking in successive overs.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra removed Ian Bell, who deflected a turning delivery to short-leg, and Yuvraj Singh's occasional left-arm orthodox won an lbw appeal against Pietersen with his first delivery.

Strauss also received a reprieve during a testing spell from Mishra when he edged behind on 15, but MS Dhoni was unable to take the catch standing up to the stumps.

But having survived that spell, Strauss and Paul Collingwood combined in an unbroken 81-run partnership which put England on course for a match-winning lead.

England had begun the day hoping to wrap up India's innings quickly but were instead frustrated for 16 overs while captain Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh forged a crucial 76-run stand.

Dhoni was given one reprieve on his way to a determined half-century when he edged left-arm spinner Monty Panesar just short of Bell at short-leg on 38.

Harbhajan also had a narrow escape when umpire Billy Bowden rejected an appeal for a catch down the leg-side off Steve Harmison, with television replays inconclusive about whether he had hit the ball or the catch behind had carried.

But just three overs later Panesar ended the partnership when Harbhajan, who had contributed a useful 40 to India's cause, pushed a turning delivery off his legs and was caught by Bell diving forward at short-leg.

Three overs later new batsman Zaheer Khan was also dismissed - Andrew Flintoff winning an lbw appeal with his third delivery back in the attack.

India still had hopes of reducing the deficit further while Dhoni was at the crease, and he brought up a deserved half-century in the next over with a single off his legs.

Dhoni attempted to hit out in Panesar's next over and was caught in the deep by Pietersen - a big wicket which appeared to signal the end of India's resistance.

Instead, Mishra teamed up with Sharma in a defiant last wicket partnership which survived the final four overs until lunch - only for Flintoff to end the innings quickly after the interval.