Hoggard's penetrative spell lifts England on rain-hit day

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The Independent Online

Pace bowler Matthew Hoggard's penetrative bowling put England in command on the rain–hit third day of the third and final cricket test against India.

Hoggard claimed three wickets for 65 runs to pin down Indian hopes of overtaking England's first innings score of 336, leaving the home team struggling at 218 for seven at the draw of stumps.

Rains, which had created havoc throughout the day, lashed the Chinnaswamy Stadium to wash out the entire evening session's play. That somewhat dented England's hopes of forcing a series leveling win.

India leads the series 1–0 after winning the opening test in the northern city of Mohali by 10 wickets. Last week's second test in Ahmadabad ended in a draw.

Only 43 overs could be bowled on Friday as persistent showers frustrated the cricketers.

Middle order batsman Virender Sehwag's belligerent half–century kept India afloat after star player Sachin Tendulkar perished in a desperate attempt to bolster the scoring.

Tendulkar showed signs of frustration after his stroke play was curbed by left–arm spinner Ashley Giles, who bowled a persistent line outside the leg stump.

Opening his arms against Giles, Tendulkar was beaten by a sharp tweaker to get stumped for the first time in his 12–year test career.

Tendulkar unleashed his range of strokes to hit 13 boundaries from 198 deliveries in his 263–minute knock, before being dismissed for the fourth time after reaching scores in the 90s.

He twice dispatched Giles to the fence while taking 12 runs in an over, but fell in his next over when he first showed signs of frustration at the leg side attack.

Giles managed to curtail Tendulkar's stroke making but could not contain Sehwag, who twice dispatched him for two boundaries in an over.

Sehwag, having survived a sharp chance before opening his account, went after the England bowling to blast 66 runs off 88 balls.

Sehwag struck 13 hits to the fence in his 123–minute knock before giving Hoggard his third wicket. He edged an outswinger into the gloves of wicketkeeper Foster soon after England's captain Nasser Hussain took the second new ball.

Hoggard earlier struck twice in successive overs to dismiss overnight batsman Rahul Dravid for three and skipper Sourav Ganguly for a duck.

Floodlights were required to improve visibility so that play could begin 42 minutes late after the International Cricket Council's match referee, Denis Lindsay, asked both teams to maintain the spirit of cricket.

Lindsay, a former South African test cricketer, tried to soothe frayed tempers in the wake of Thursday's finger–wagging dispute between Tendulkar and English captain Hussain.

Dravid continued his watchful crawl before edging Hoggard to wicketkeeper James Foster. His three runs came off 61 deliveries in 73 minutes.

Ganguly hung his bat tentatively at an outswinging delivery from Hoggard to be snapped by Mark Butcher at second slip for a three–ball duck.

Hoggard came close to dismissing Sehwag in the same over, but Andres Flintoff at third slip reacted late to an edged shot that fell marginally short of him.

At close, Anil Kumble was batting on 10 and Harbhajan Singh had not opened his account.