England 300 & 112-5 India 338: Kumble's artistry leaves England staring down barrel

To the uninitiated, Anil Kumble looks a pretty ordinary bowler. His leg-breaks possess little mystery and he is not a huge spinner of the cricket ball. But on Saturday he proudly became the fifth man to take 500 Test wickets, and yesterday he claimed three further victims, casualties that left England perilously placed on 112 for 5 at the close of play on the fourth day of the second Test.

After allowing India's last five wickets to contribute 185 to their total of 338, England enter the final day of the Test with a lead of just 74. Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones will commence battle this morning, and much is needed from them. Indeed, England's chances of avoiding defeat here appear to rest on their ability to build a substantial partnership.

England will be desperately disappointed to find themselves in this position because it is they who were in control of the match at the start of the fourth day. India, on 149 for 4, were still 151 runs behind England's first innings score of 300, and it was the home team who were expected to be put under pressure.

But diligent batting from Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain, and adventurous strokeplay by Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh and Kumble transferred the burden on to England. The influence of a first innings lead was then brilliantly exploited by India's bowlers in the afternoon.

Predictably it was Kumble who caused the greatest problems, taking 3 for 41 in 17 testing overs. As a man Kumble is something of a contradiction. Off the field he is a mild mannered, gentle bloke, but once he walks across the white line he becomes a fierce competitor. Glenn McGrath, the Australian fast bowler has similar traits. Kumble's strength is his relentless accuracy, with almost every ball he bowls testing the technique and patience of the batsmen.

Dravid delayed bringing Kumble into the attack until the 18th over. The impressive Munaf Patel had already dismissed Alastair Cook, who pushed at a ball he could have left alone and was caught behind, and it did not take long for Kumble to begin to make an impression.

Andrew Strauss will consider himself unfortunate to get out as he did. It is the second time he has felt an attempted sweep shot hit him flush on the boot and then watch the rebound bounce invitingly in the direction of a close fielder. At Trent Bridge against Australia it was the combination of Shane Warne and Matthew Hayden, at slip, that led to his downfall, and yesterday it was the partnership of Kumble and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian wicketkeeper.

In instances like this it is virtually impossible for the field umpires to see whether the ball hits the ground or not and the officials asked for the third umpire to pass judgement. After several inspections he correctly gave Strauss out.

Darrell Hair had no doubt about the next decision he gave but television replays highlighted the umpire's error. Kevin Pietersen, like Strauss, went for the sweep shot but the delivery from Harbhajan struck him on the forearm, rather than the glove, before lobbing up to Dravid.

Pietersen rubbed his arm and shook his head before leaving the arena, actions that could book him a date with Ranjan Madugalle, the match referee. England supporters will feel there was an injustice here, but the International Cricket Council regulations only allow the umpires to refer line calls - run-outs, stumpings and boundaries - bump balls and decisions they do not see. Pietersen's was none of the three.

Both batsmen will consider themselves unfortunate but the attacking strokes they played were brought about by the pressure created by Harbhajan and Kumble. England, at the time, were stuttering along at two runs an over, and Strauss had scored 13 runs in 24 overs.

Ian Bell, meanwhile, batted with authority. He got off the mark with a lovely straight drive for four and played several more quality shots during his innings of 57. Bell was the only England batsman to look comfortable against spin and it was a surprise when he edged Kumble through to the keeper two overs before the close.

Yet nobody was stunned to see Paul Collingwood lose his wicket. The batsman has been in excellent form but he looked hopelessly out of touch here. He could have been dismissed on half a dozen occasions before edging Kumble to first slip. These two wickets completed another profitable day for the 35-year-old. Kumble's participation began when Dravid, on 95, chopped a Flintoff delivery on to his leg stump.

A Stephen Harmison lifter had already accounted for Dhoni and with India on 229 for 6, England would have been hoping for a first innings lead.

Pathan and Kumble, however, had other ideas. Pathan, at 21, is already one of the most exciting cricketers in the world and this innings highlighted why. The all-rounder views himself as a bowler who bats, but he is likely to score thousands of valuable runs in his career. It was Pathan's powerful hitting - his 50 came up off 51 balls - that gave India the momentum they were looking for. Monty Panesar and Liam Plunkett were hit out of the attack and this created extra work for Flintoff and Harmison.

Both bowlers responded positively. Flintoff had Pathan caught in the gully but the work load eventually took its toll and Harbhajan and Kumble capitalised. Harbhajan struck seven boundaries in his 36 before flashing at a wide one, and Kumble was the final man out when he was bowled by a Plunkett yorker. For England, it was not the last they saw of him.

Moment of the day

When news filtered through to the press box that Jacques Kallis, the South African all-rounder, had, through a combination of no-balls and sixes, conceded 17 runs off the first legitimate ball of an over nobody could stop laughing for about a minute. Yet Kallis had the last laugh when South Africa amazingly chased down Australia's world-record one-day score of 434 for 4.

Shot of the day

* Irfan Pathan, India's opening bowler, showed he is no mug with the bat striking the only six of the day when he came down the wicket to England's left-arm spinner Monty Panesar and hit him back over his head. It was a lovely clean strike and it brought up India's 200.

Ball of the day

* Mahendra Singh Dhoni has the reputation of being a ferocious hitter of a cricket ball but there was little he could do about the snorter from Stephen Harmison that flicked his glove and went through to the wicketkeeper, Geraint Jones. It was vintage Harmison.

Scoreboard from Mohali

England won toss; third and fourth days

England - First innings 300 (A Flintoff 70, K P Pietersen 64, G O Jones 52; A Kumble 5-76).

India - First innings

(Overnight: 149 for 4)

W Jaffer c Flintoff b Panesar 31

149 min, 104 balls, 2 fours

V Sehwag c Jones b Harmison 11

18 min, 13 balls, 2 fours

*R S Dravid b Flintoff 95

320 min, 208 balls, 10 fours

S R Tendulkar c Strauss b Flintoff 4

21 min, 15 balls

Yuvraj Singh c Bell b Hoggard 15

48 min, 30 balls, 1 four

ÝM S Dhoni c Jones b Harmison 16

34 min, 22 balls, 3 fours

I K Pathan c Collingwood b Flintoff 52

110 min, 58 balls, 5 fours, 1 six

A Kumble b Plunkett 32

125 min, 75 balls, 2 fours

Harbhajan Singh c Jones b Flintoff 36

57 min, 41 balls, 7 fours

Piyush Chawla c Collingwood b Hoggard 1

21 min, 9 balls

M M Patel not out 11

18 min, 11 balls, 1 four, 1 six

Extras (lb25 w1 nb8) 34

Total (465 min, 96.2 overs) 338

Fall: 1-18 (Sehwag) 2-96 (Jaffer) 3-103 (Tendulkar) 4-134 (Yuvraj Singh) 5-153 (Dhoni) 6-229 (Dravid) 7-260 (Pathan) 8-313 (Harbhajan Singh) 9-321 (Chawla), 10-338 (Kumble).

Bowling: Hoggard 18-6-55-2 (w1) (7-3-18-0 1-0-1-1 6-2-14-0 2-0-13-0 2-1-9-1), Harmison 28-9-60-2 (5-1-8-1. 6-2-14-0, 7-2-20-1, 10-4-18-0); Flintoff 22-3-96-4 (nb8) (4-2-11-0, 5-1-16-1, 2-0-8-0, 7-0-39-2, 4-0-22-1); Plunkett 9.2-1-37-1 (6-1-14-0, 3-0-21-0, 0.2-0-2-1); Panesar 19-3-65-1 (16-3-41-1, 2-0-19-0, 1-0-5-0).

Progress: Third day: 50: 88 min, 18.1 overs). Tea: 52-1 (Jaffer 16, Dravid 16) 20 overs. 100: 156 min, 34.4 overs. Close: 149-4 (Dravid 60, Dhoni 12) 54 overs. Fourth day (9.30am start, min 98 overs): Bad light stopped play 9.35-9.55am 149-4 (Dravid 60, Dhoni 12) 54.3 overs. 150: 254 min, 55.1 overs. 200: 315 mins, 68 overs. 250 in 355 mins, 74.4 overs. Lunch: 269-7 (Kumble 10, Harbhajan Singh 7) 79 overs. New ball taken after 80 overs at 270-7. 300: 408 mins, 85.5 overs. Innings closed: 2.10pm; early tea taken.

Dravid's 50: 178 min, 116 balls, 4 fours.

Pathan's 50: 100 min, 51 balls, 5 fours, 1 six.

England - Second innings

A J Strauss c Dhoni b Kumble 13

102 min, 64 balls

A N Cook c Dhoni b Patel 2

26 min, 20 balls

I R Bell c Dhoni b Kumble 57

167 min, 137 balls, 7 fours

K P Pietersen c Dravid b Harbhajan Singh 4

12 min, 13 balls

P D Collingwood c Dravid b Kumble 14

40 min, 36 balls, 2 fours

*A Flintoff not out 16

42 min, 37 balls, 1 four

ÝG O Jones not out 1

7 min, 2 balls

Extras (lb1 w1 nb3) 5

Total (for 5, 202 min, 51 overs) 112

Fall: 1-7 (Cook) 2-50 (Strauss) 3-55 (Pietersen) 4-88 (Collingwood) 5-109 (Bell).

To bat: L E Plunkett, M J Hoggard, S J Harmison, M S Panesar.

Bowling: Pathan 6-1-16-0 (nb1, w1) (3-1-6-0, 3-0-10-0); Patel 5-2-10-1 (nb1) (one spell); Harbhajan Singh 19-5-37-1 (14-3-28-1, 5-2-9-0); Kumble 17-4-41-3 (nb1) (8-1-18-1, 9-3-23-2); Chawla 4-2-7-0 (one spell).

Progress: Fourth day: 50: 93 min, 21.2 overs. 100: 179 min, 44.4 overs.

Bell's 50: 121 min, 97 balls, 7 fours.

Umpires: D B Hair (Aus) and S J A Taufel (Aus).

TV replay umpire: A V Jayaprakash.

Match referee: R S Madugalle.

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