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India's brittle batting gives England upper hand

December 14, 2012 17:22 IST

India's batting woes continued to haunt them, the top-order succumbing tamely as England snapped up four quick wickets to gain control of the crucial fourth and final Test in Nagpur on Friday.

After posting a decent score of 330 in the first innings, the visitors exploited the slow and uneven bounce of the track to leave the home side gasping at a precarious 87 for 4 at close on an eventful second day, which saw nine wickets fall.

- Scorecard

Pacer James Anderson (3 for 24) did the bulk of the damage, while Graeme Swann chipped in with a wicket, as the out-of-form Indian batsmen put up another pathetic display, none willing to show the application and temperament to hang in.

Virat Kohli (11) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (8) were at the crease when stumps were drawn for the day, with India still trailing by 243 runs.

James AndersonEarlier, resuming at the overnight score of 199 for 5, England did well to stretch their first innings total to 330, thanks to useful contributions from debutant Joe Root (73), Matt Prior (57) and Swann (56).

Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla was the pick of the Indian bowlers with a career-best haul of 4 for 69, while pacer Ishant Sharma (3 for 49) and R Ashwin (1 for 66) were the other wicket-takers.

The failure of India's famed batsmen again let the team down badly as Virender Sehwag (0), Gautam Gambhir (37), Cheteswar Pujara (26) and Sachin Tendulkar (2) could not stay around for long.

Tendulkar was bowled by Anderson, who has now dismissed him nine times, the highest by any bowler.

With three full days left in the match, England appear on course for their first series win on Indian soil in 28 years.

India will have to bat out of their skins to save the ignominy of their third successive humiliating defeat.

England struck in the first over, when Anderson broke through the tentative defense of Sehwag with an in-swinger, before the hosts adjourned for tea at a nervous 32 for 1.

The opener, who registered a two-ball duck, was completely beaten for pace and bowled, his middle stump ripped out of the ground as his lack of footwork let him down.

Gambhir, looking in good touch but for poor judgment of a run, and Pujara looked well in control of the proceedings as they added 58 runs in 132 balls before a sudden slump when India lost both batsmen and Tendulkar for just 12 runs and in nine overs.

Pujara could be termed unlucky to have been declared out by umpire Rod Tucker as the ball seemed to have missed the glove, hit his forearm and bounced off his pad for Ian Bell to take a superb, diving one-handed catch at forward short leg.

The right-handed Saurashtra batsman looked quite composed despite Anderson trying to hustle him with bouncers in his 89-minute stay during which he also drove the fast bowler to the straight field and hooked him for two fours.

But Swann's entry into the attack after 20 overs accounted for his wicket.

Tendulkar, whose career is on the line after a string of poor scores, appeared ill at ease and was beaten twice by the sudden turn extracted by his nemesis in the series – left arm spinner Monty Panesar – but it was his other career nemesis – Anderson – who got his wicket for a record ninth time.

Anderson, brought back into the attack after the drinks break, made two balls go away and then brought one back to bowl Tendulkar.

Tendulkar was beaten by the pace and inward movement and inside-edged the ball that also kept a bit low and crashed into his middle and leg stump, leaving the batsman flabbergasted and thoroughly distraught.

Gambhir, who batted resolutely for 137 minutes and 93 balls, attempted an ill-advised drive away from the body to offer a catch to wicketkeeper Prior.

Kohli and Dhoni saw off the day without further setbacks.

India fought back well after the first hour's play by claiming two quick wickets as England adjourned for lunch at 277 for seven.

After Ashwin dismissed Prior, Sharma, replacing the off spinner, sent back all-rounder Bresnan with the second ball of a new spell to help India wrest the initiative.

The two wickets fell in the space of nine balls. England lost both the wickets at the same score of 242, having added 43 runs to their overnight total.

Chawla, who dismissed Ian Bell on Thursday, accepted a return catch from Root after the debutant batted for nearly six hours while facing 229 balls and hitting just four fours.

It ended a stubborn 60-run eighth-wicket partnership between Root and Swann, who faced 91 balls and struck six fours and two sixes.

Two overs later, the leg-spinner had Swann, attempting a reverse sweep, trapped in front with a quicker ball that went straight before hitting him on the pads.

In his next over, Chawla packed off Anderson through a catch in the leg trap to bring an end to the England first innings.

The visitors lost their last three wickets in the post-lunch session for addition of 53 runs in under 17 overs.

Photograph: BCCI

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