Sachin Tendulkar overcame a dry patch to score his first half-century in 12 innings and give India some stability to close the opening day of the third Test at 273-7 in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Tendulkar was the top-scorer for India, with 76, after MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat on a much-discussed pitch, which didn’t turn out to be the “rank turner” it was expected to be.
James Anderson led the England attack with strong support from Monty Panesar, who was the pick of English bowlers in the last Test. Anderson displayed excellent control and swing mastery to take three wickets, including the crucial ones of Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.
However, it wasn’t before opener Gautam Gambhir scored his second consecutive half-century of the series to give India a strong start, along with Virender Sehwag (23), while also contributing to Sehwag’s run out in the 11th over.
Gambhir then found momentary support from Cheteshwar Pujara (16), before the 24-year-old was clean bowled by Panesar and leave India wobbling at 88-2. In came Tendulkar to a raucous welcome from the Eden Gardens crowd.
Tendulkar started slowly and cautiously before going on to attack the England bowlers and rebuilt the Indian innings with Yuvraj Singh after Gambhir’s (60) dismissal in the 42nd over and Kohli’s departure for six runs in the 49th.
Yuvraj hit a trademark six straight down the ground to Panesar and four boundaries in his 32-run innings before going away in soft dismissal with a catch on extra cover off Graeme Swann.
Tendulkar brought up his half-century with two consecutive fours off Steve Finn in the 59th over but wasn’t able to bring up his 101st international hundred thanks to a low catch by wicketkeeper Matt Prior off Anderson.
It was down to captain Dhoni (22*) and Ravichandran Ashwin to negotiate the remaining overs but Ashwin (21), too, fell to Anderson to leave India reeling at the end of the day.
Anderson finished the day with figures of 3-68 from his 21 overs, bowling five maidens, while Panesar took two for 72 in his 34 overs. Swann took one wicket for 46 runs in his 14 overs while Steve Finn went wicketless in 20 overs, giving away 65 runs.