Tendulkar grinds out a half century as Anderson and Panesar help give England an edge.
Monty continued where he left off with 35 accurate overs, taking the prized scalp of inform Pujara finishing with 2-74
Not even an early morning start could prevent Captain Cook from losing another toss in Kolkata. India chose to bat on a wicket falsely promised as a fast bouncy wicket. Anderson & returning Finn discovered in their respective first spells it was anything but. After the first 10 overs Sehwag certainly fancied the deck, looking set to repeat his heroics from the first morning in Ahmedabad. Early signs were ominous as he effortlessly moved to almost a run a ball 23.
Enter Gautam Gambhir, who in a moment of pure madness, chipped in a favour for England. After Sehwag had flicked a leg stump half volley from Anderson to the distant deep midwicket boundary, 3 easy runs seemed inevitable. Gambhir however having lazily jogged the first two dropped anchor, turned blind and even failed to afford his running partner the courtesy of a NO shout. Viru was left stranded and the relay team of Patel and Finn combined for a convincing runout. A rare moment of comedy for the England faithful back home. Pujara then patiently began building an innings as Cook brought Panesar into the attack early. Monty repaid the faith as he bowled a fantastic spell which yielded wickets of Pujara and then Gambhir.
The England spinner beat India's no.3 convincingly in flight as he went back to a ball much quicker and fuller than anticipated, hitting middle half way up. India went to Lunch at 90-2 with the great Tendulkar arriving at the crease amidst speculation about his future. His first hour at the crease was a perfect example of how to bat when out of form. It was ugly with plenty of play and misses and a few edges, but he stood firm with a type of enthusiastic determination worthy of someone half his age.
Monty had Gambhir caught unconvincingly by Trott at slip before drinks. No doubt Viru had a few words for him on his return to the pavilion. The Indian opener made a slow paced 60, and has now gone a staggering 44 innings without a test hundred. All the critical focus on Sachin, perhaps such scrutiny be better directed in Gambhir's direction.
With the ball reversing before tea Anderson prized out Kohli with a spell of brilliant seam bowling. Kohli's dismissal was reflective of his innings, a tentative push at a ball outside off, nicked healthily to Swann at second slip. India were 172-4 at tea, with Sachin battling on ay 46*.
The arrival of Yuvraj at the crease injected some much needed impetus for the Indians after tea, not before he'd survived a few close LBW shouts from Anderson and Panesar. A casual straight lofted six to Monty was a sign Yuvi was in the mood to score quick runs. He certainly had a positive effect on Tendulkar who went on to reach his half century shortly after tea, looking more accomplished and aggressive.
Swann had surprisingly been a spectator for most of the innings, playing second fiddle to Monty. Singh was to provide him with some joy however in the 69th over of the day. After looking comfortable for most of his innings the left hander rather surprisingly pushed a length ball straight to Cook at short cover, a soft dismissal indeed.
Tendulkar at the other end looked more accomplished with every boundary hit. Anderson was to be the source of his demise once more. He got the little master with a beauty outside off, stealing a kiss from Sachin's bat, into the welcome arm of Prior, literally. A one handed grab lodged conveniently in between forearm and bicep. Sachin was gone for 76, partially quashing any calls for his retirement.
At 230-6 it was increasingly turning out to be a fruitful day for England. It nearly got even better shortly after Tendulkar's departure as another calamitous display of running between the wickets nearly cost the Indians a wicket. Dhoni punched the ball to mid on and called for a quick single, whilst Ashwin remained rooted in his crease for reasons unknown. Luckily Finn's misfield earned the Indian captain a reprieve.
Cook delayed the new ball as Anderson continued to push for another wicket. This was increasingly becoming yet another masterful display from England's premier seam bowler. When the new ball was taken, indeed the Burnley man obliged with a trademark in-swinging delivery which whistled through Ashwin's gate onto middle stump. That was to be the last wicket of the day as India finished the day on 273-7.
England will be happy with taking 7 wickets on another slow batting wicket. However with Dhoni still in and India only 27 shy of 300 this match is more evenly poised than the scoreline suggests. The morning session on day 2 is likely to be crucial in seeing who ends up with a big enough chip stack worthy of a win. Sehwag's run out this morning could yet come back to haunt India. Regardless, this test match promises to be yet another tasty affair.
Join in the conversation and follow Rana on twitter @rararana - See you all tomorrow morning.
image: © somethingness