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England offer stubborn resistance
Harish Kotian in London | August 13, 2007 18:43 IST
England [Images] lost two wickets in the morning session but continued to put up spirited resistance, scoring 126 for two wickets in their second innings, at lunch on the fifth day of the third and final Test at The Oval in London [Images] on Monday.
Left-armer R P Singh claimed the first wicket when he had Andrew Strauss [Images] caught in the slips for 32.
Anil Kumble then followed it up with the wicket of Alastair Cook [Images] for 43, as England were reduced to 86 for 2. He was unlucky to miss out on Michael Vaughan's [Images] wicket, for 18, as Rahul Dravid [Images] in the slip region dropped an easy catch.
At the recess, Vaughan was unbeaten on 22, with Kevin Pietersen [Images] at the other end on 17, both batsmen hitting three boundaries in their respective scores.
England need another 374 runs to win the Test and level the three-match series.
Electing to bat first, India put up a mammoth 664 in the first innings, courtesy Anil Kumble's 110, his maiden Test century. They then bowled out England for 345, but India captain Dravid shockingly decided against enforcing the follow-on in conditions best suited for swing bowling. Batting again, India declared their second innings at 180 for 6, setting England 500 for victory.
India lead the series 1-0, having won the second Test, while the first at Lord's ended in a draw.
Morning session: (70 runs, 30 overs, 2 wickets)
S Sreesanth [Images] started well and gave the openers a lot of problems, particularly Alastair Cook whom he troubled a lot with outgoing deliveries.
In fact, off the very first ball of the match he had a confident leg before appeal turned down as the ball struck just above the knee. This time, fortunately, umpire Ian Howell called correctly.
Both Zaheer Khan [Images] and Sreesanth bowled well without much luck and Dravid was forced to bring on Anil Kumble.
Strauss had, however, done his job, scoring 32 off 112 deliveries and six boundaries, adding 79 for the first wicket Cook. After playing with so much discipline for nearly two hours, Strauss was utterly dejected to give his wicket away with such a loose shot.
Three overs later Kumble dismissed Cook for 43 as he tried a fine flick on the leg side, but Laxman, at leg slip, produced a sharp catch. It was a very important wicket for India as Cook was looking well set at the wicket. But, as has been the case with him right through the series, Cook failed to carry on and play a big knock.
Kevin Pietersen got off the mark with a boundary off the first ball he faced when Kumble presented him with an easy full toss.
Singh was very effective in his first slip as he got a lot of movement, more than Sreesanth and Zaheer. He bowled a five-over spell, giving away 10 runs, while effecting that important breakthrough.
Kumble also toiled hard from the Vauxhall end, trying all his variations, but they were more of the slower leg spinning deliveries. One such one got the edge of Vaughan's bat, but Rahul Dravid at slip dropped a low catch. Get the wicket of the England captain 15 minutes before the lunch break, on a pitch where it was difficult to take wickets once the batsman got set, would have been the perfect tonic for India.
At the lunch break, England were 126 for 2 in 50 overs. Vaughan was unbeaten on 22, with Kevin Pietersen on 17, both batsmen having hit three boundaries each.
England need another 374 runs to win the Test and level the three-match series. For India, they just need a few quick wickets after lunch and get into the lower order as soon as possible.
But the first task is to dismiss either Vaughan or Pietersen early because if the two batsmen get going they will be very difficult to get out, especially on this good batting wicket.