Bikash Mohapatra reports from Edgbaston, on the second day's play in the third Test between India and England.
Rarely has the course of a Test match been decided inside the opening two days. The third Test between England and India, being played at Edgbaston, will join that elite list, if the second day's play is anything to go by.
On Day 1 of the Test, England bowled India out cheaply to gain an early advantage. On Thursday, their batsmen put the Indians out of the game.
A whopping 372 runs were scored during the course of the day as the fate of the series and the No.1 ranking was all but decided.
At stumps, the hosts had amassed 456 for three in their first essay (115 overs), an overall lead of 232 runs with seven wickets left.
Alastair Cook was unbeaten on a masterful 182, and giving him company was Eoin Morgan, on 44.
With three days left, the match is heading England's way. And with it, is a winning 3-0 lead in the series and, more importantly, the ICC No.1 Test ranking.
India would do well to save this match, let alone win it.
Morning session (73 runs, 22 overs, no wicket):
The early morning drizzle may have threatened to affect play on the second day, but it was good news for India.
As the rain escalated, it increased the hopes of many ardent fans who had come a long way to watch the Test. The conditions, many felt, would help the Indian bowlers make crucial breakthroughs early on.
Under the circumstances, play started 30 minutes late, and the English openers, after resuming the day on 84, progressed at tortoise pace.
Only 17 runs came off the first 10 overs, and it took 86 balls (14.2 overs) before the first boundary was scored, courtesy an Andrew Strauss edge to third man off Ishant Sharma.
The second boundary, though, didn't take as long. It was two balls later that Alastair Cook leaned on to a full delivery and hit an exquisite drive to extra cover. It was only the fourth scoring shot of the day for the 26-year-old, but marked the point where the England openers broke the shackles.
The fact that the weather cleared subsequently, the sun hitting hard at the surface, further compounded the visitor's woes. With the wicket offering no assistance whatsoever, the Indian bowlers went through their motions, without making any impact.
There were a slew of boundaries thereafter, with both the batsmen freeing their arms. His fourth boundary of the morning, off Sreesanth, helped Cook register his 27th Test fifty, his fifth against India.
It was the batsman's first significant contribution in the series. The shot also ensured England reached the 150-run mark.
Going into the lunch break, the home team was comfortably-placed at 157 without loss (47 overs), with Strauss batting on 84 and Cook unbeaten on 51.
It was a poor session from an Indian point of view. The body language of the players said it all. They were hoping for things to happen, rather than making them happen.
Alas, it was not to be.
Post-lunch session (162 runs, 35 overs, two wickets):
Amit Mishra had the worst possible start in the second session, bowling as many as three no-balls in an over. There were some good signs (and good fortune too) coming, though, the spinner getting some turn and bounce.
His fifth over of the session provided the visitors the breakthrough they were so desperately looking for. Strauss, while trying to sweep, was bowled around his legs.
The England captain's 176-ball 87 was inclusive of 13 boundaries. His dismissal ended a 186-run stand for the opening wicket, one that had laid the foundation of the home team's innings.
But Strauss was unlucky. Television replays clearly indicated Mishra had over-stepped. The umpire failed to call it!
Ishant was brought back into the attack in the 59th over and new batsman Ian Bell went after him straightaway. The second ball was hit past point, the third edged to fine leg and fifth steered to the vacant third-man region.
Three boundaries in the space of four balls, the third of them helping England get past the 200-run mark.
Bell continued his assault on Ishant, hitting two more boundaries in the bowler's third over. The batsman's sixth boundary, off Mishra this time, helped England take the first innings lead.
The in-form No.3's assault forced Dhoni to take Ishant (3-0-21-0 in that spell) off and get Sreesanth back into the attack. The latter was unfortunate, as Dravid, at first slip, put down a simple catch off his fifth delivery, giving Bell a reprieve (when on 30).
A boundary off Mishra, his 14th over, helped Cook reach 98 and England cross the 250-run mark. The batsman got to his hundred with a single in Kumar's next over.
The bowler, however, retaliated with the very next ball, rattling Bell's stumps. It was a perfect leg-cutter and the batsman was clueless even as he looked back to see his stumps shattered.
Bell scored 34 and helped Cook put on 66 runs for the second wicket. His dismissal though was brief respite for India.
In came Kevin Pietersen (36 not out) and he got into the attack in quick time, five boundaries and a massive six over long-on off Mishra meant he proved the perfect foil to the well-settled Cook (129 not out).
The duo added 67 runs (@ almost a-run-a-ball) in an unbroken third wicket stand before the hosts went for tea.
England went into the break at 319 for 2 (after 82 overs), having extended their lead to a healthy 95 runs. A whopping 162 runs were added in the second session.
Post-tea session (137 runs, 33 overs, one wicket):
Anauthoritative boundary to deep square by Pietersen, off Ishant's fourth ball after resumption, defined the course of the final session.
Ishant's third over of the spell was an expensive one, costing India 14runs. KP glided the second ball to the third man boundary to register his 25th Test fifty. The batsman celebrated by dispatching the fourth and the sixth deliveries of the over to the fence with utter disdain.
A few overs later, Cook whipped a Sreesanth delivery to the boundary wide of long-on to surpass the 150-runmark. It was the fifth time in his career that the batsman had achieved the feat.
The duo put on 122 runs for the fourth wicket (off just 138 balls) to consolidate England's position considerably before Kumar provided the visitors a much-requiredbreakthrough, having Pietersen out leg before.
KP's 78-ball knock was inclusive of nine hits to the fence and one over it, and his dismissal gave Kumar his 15th wicketof the series.
However, the batsman had done enough to ensure the hosts had extended their overall lead to 150runs.
EoinMorgan began aggressively, getting two boundaries off the first three deliveries he faced.
The 24-year-old, having been reprieved twice, helped Cook put on 824 runs in an unbroken fourth wicket stand to effectively take the game away from India.
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