England's hopes of victory kept alive

England 400 India 89-3
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The Independent Online

Matthew Hoggard led England's attempts to open up an advantage in the must-win final Test against India at the Wankhede Stadium.

Swing bowler Hoggard gained two unusual early successes via short-pitched deliveries as openers Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer departed in the initial dozen overs.

James Anderson then claimed the prize scalp of Sachin Tendulkar, who became India's most-capped player in this match, before India were stabilised by captain Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh.

India closed the second day on 89 for three, with Dravid once again proving an immovable object, in his 100th Test.

Tendulkar's struggles continued, however, as his half-an-hour stay at the crease was terminated with a waft at an Anderson delivery to nick behind.

India were reduced to 24 for two when, with only his second ball from the Tata end, Jaffer gloved a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Geraint Jones.

The dangerous Sehwag was undone by steep bounce when he fended from his throat and the ball looped to first slip, where debutant Owais Shah was waiting.

Shah fell narrowly short of a debut Test hundred as a depleted England, needing to win to share the series, were dismissed for 400.

He fell for 88, having returned to the crease after retiring hurt through cramp on the opening day, the penultimate dismissal of the innings as he nicked India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh to be well held by Dravid at slip.

Faced with another batting slump - the tourists lost five wickets for 30 runs either side of lunch - Shah was given sound support by Anderson.

The Middlesex batsman kept out Munaf Patel's hat-trick ball, after Shaun Udal and Hoggard were undone by swinging yorkers, and produced two perfect pieces of perfect timing off the same bowler to beat the fielders on the rope at long-off and square-leg.

He then hit Harbhajan for a towering six over long-on before edging another boundary out of Dravid's reach next ball.

Shah was not so fortunate in Harbhajan's following over, however, as Dravid stretched to his right to hold on one-handed.

Captain Andrew Flintoff rode his luck to register a third half-century in succession here.

Flintoff was dropped twice in as many deliveries off the bowling of paceman Patel as India initially struggled for further inroads having asked their opponents to bat.

But after Paul Collingwood perished nibbling at one from Sri Sreesanth, Flintoff picked out Tendulkar on the midwicket boundary to give Anil Kumble a success.

It was not until the 20th over of the second morning that India affected the breakthrough but Jones became the third wicket in quick succession when he drove loosely to point.

Prior to the collapse Flintoff twice cleared the ropes with top-edged sixes, the second of which, off Patel, was carried over the rope at fine-leg in the process of catching by Irfan Pathan.

His fortune also extended to a couple of lives off Patel in the fourth over of the new ball as Sehwag grassed a chance at second slip and Kumble fluffed in the gully.


India v England


India First Innings Close

W Jaffer c G O Jones b Hoggard 11

V Sehwag c Shah b Hoggard 6

R Dravid not out 37

S R Tendulkar c G O Jones b Anderson 1

Yuvraj Singh not out 32

Extras nb2 2

Total 3 wkts (37 overs) 89

Fall: 1-9 2-24 3-28

To Bat: M S Dhoni, I K Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, A Kumble,

S Sreesanth, M M Patel.

Bowling: Hoggard 10 3 16 2

Flintoff 10 4 13 0

Anderson 6 3 15 1

Panesar 7 2 18 0

Udal 4 0 27 0