Collingwood leads England revival

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The Independent Online

Centurion Paul Collingwood led an incredible tail-end assault as bat dominated the second day of the first Test at the VCA ground.

Collingwood's brilliant maiden Test hundred, spanning six hours in all, altered the course of the innings.

Having resumed on 246 for seven this morning the tourists were powered to a healthy 393 all out as Collingwood shared 126 runs for the final two wickets with Durham colleague Steve Harmison and debutant Monty Panesar.

It was not until the 38th over of the second day, in fact, that India finally finished England off as Sri Sreesanth trapped Panesar leg before.

England, meanwhile, struck as early as the third over as the dangerous Virender Sehwag drove straight to cover off Matthew Hoggard.

There were no further breakthroughs in the following couple of hours but left-arm spinner Panesar caused plenty of problems initially with the turn and bounce he extracted while captain Andrew Flintoff proved a menace due to his ability to reverse swing the ball.

With 15 overs of the second day remaining, India were 98 for one with Wasim Jaffer having struck a half-century.

England's momentum sprang from Harmison's entrance to partner Collingwood and after India separated them, the latter farmed the strike expertly to get to three figures.

There was plenty more to add, however, with Collingwood's unbeaten 134 including 13 fours and four sixes.

Considered a one-day specialist for the majority of his career, the 29-year-old put down a significant marker in only his sixth Test appearance when, the ball after lofting his third six off Harbhajan Singh, he went aerial again to clear the infield, celebrating while completing the first of his three runs.

His team-mates' reaction from the dressing room emphasised what an extraordinary contribution he had made.

After Hoggard became Sri Sreesanth's third victim of the innings, in the second over with the new ball, Harmison signalled his intentions immediately.

He began with a spanking cover drive for four off Irfan Pathan and struck the ball cleanly throughout his 45-minute stay at the crease.

He was a little fortunate to survive a confident leg before appeal by Anil Kumble early in his innings but three consecutive boundaries off Sreesanth, two flashed through the off side followed by a pull, altered the tempo of the contest.

The last of those strokes took the tourists beyond 300 and Harmison's bold approach meant he provided the vast majority of the half-century share with Collingwood, who brought it up with a six over long on off Harbhajan.

Encouraged no doubt by Collingwood's technique, Harmison walked up the track to deposit Harbhajan for a one-bounce four but succumbed in attempting a repeat of the stroke later in the same over.

Hoggard, who top scored for the tourists in the innings leading up to this international campaign, had earlier been the first batsman of the day to fall when he nicked one pitching on middle and shaping away.

The way the late order applied themselves against India's two lauded spinners Kumble and Harbhajan will also provide encouragement for the rest of the three-match series.