KOLKATA, Dec 5: Sachin Tendulkar returned to form with a patient 76 but England claimed the honours on the opening day of the third Test at the Eden Gardens by reducing a jittery India to 273 for seven here on Wednesday.
Tendulkar played a composed innings under pressure facing 155 balls and hitting 13 boundaries in the process. His partnership of 79 for the fifth wicket with Yuvraj Singh was the highlight of the Indian innings as most of the other top-order batsmen failed to capitalise on starts.
He missed a century when he was forced to edge one off seamer James Anderson and the catch was taken by wicket-keeper Matt Prior diving to his right.
Anderson got the ball to reverse consistently in the post-tea session which saw England get three wickets after getting two each in the first couple of sessions on a track which appeared good for batting.
It was Tendulkar’s first half-century since the Sydney Test at the start of the year as he appeared relieved after getting to the mark with a boundary of pacer Steven Finn.
Electing to bat on a flat wicket that had little to offer, India had a promising start from Gautam Gambhir (60) and Virender Sehwag (23).
But Gambhir could not convert his fine start yet again, while Virat Kohli’s poor form in the series continued as he could manage only six runs.
Anderson (3-68) rocked the home team at the fag end of the day with the second new ball. He bowled a perfect off-cutter that breached Ravichandran Ashwin’s defence.
At stumps, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was unbeaten on 22 along with Zaheer Khan who was yet to open his account. This is the first time that floodlights were used in a Test at the Eden Gardens with the last 40 minutes being played under artificial lights.
After Dhoni won the toss, the opening duo raced to 45 from 10 overs as Sehwag was found batting with consummate ease scoring run-a-ball before Gambhir’s indiscretion ended his innings.
In a display of poor communication, Gambhir did not listen to his partner’s call, as he stood watching the ball while the right-hander almost reached the other end before Samit Patel completed an easy run-out from the deep.
After the departure of Sehwag who was looking fluent during his innings of 23, India struggled with Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli and Yuvraj who didn’t make significant contributions.
The in-form Pujara managed only 16 this time before Panesar’s wrong ‘un foxed him as it knocked his middle-stump back.
Gambhir’s Test century that has eluded him for nearly three years now didn’t come this time as he tried to cut a rising delivery from Panesar which was too close to his body and the thick edge flew to Jonathan Trott at slip. The left-hander faced 124 balls and hit 12 boundaries.
Kohli was done in by Anderson as the talented batsman edged one to the slip cordon.
Shortly after tea Tendulkar clipped Finn towards long leg boundary to complete his 66th half-century in Tests.
Yuvraj looked set having scored 32 and then got out in a tame fashion as he lobbed a simple catch to Alastair Cook in the short cover region while trying to punch a regular off-break from Swann.
The fact that India struggled to put on partnerships and failed to convert the good starts mounted the pressure on the subsequent batsmen.
In the only change to the Indian line-up, lanky paceman Ishant Sharma returned after a 10-month lay in place of out-of-form off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
For England, Ian Bell and Finn replaced Jonny Bairstow and Stuart Broad.—Agencies