BIRMINGHAM, England, (Reuters) – England enjoyed another dominant day against India by bowling the tourists out for 224 on the first day of the third test at Edgbaston yesterday before closing on 84 without loss.
Andrew Strauss, who won the toss for the first time in the four-match series, was 52 not out and Alastair Cook was on 27 after India’s pace bowlers were unable to exact any kind of control.
Strauss raised England’s 50 with a square cut for four off Shanthakumaran Sreesanth for his seventh boundary that took him to 31. He later registered his own half-century 13 balls from the close, his first test fifty of the English summer.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni raised India’s spirits with an enterprising 77 from 96 balls, leading a fightback from 111 for seven after lunch. Dhoni and Praveen Kumar (26) added a run-a-ball 84 for the eighth wicket to frustrate England. Tim Bresnan (four for 62) and Stuart Broad (four for 53) shared the wickets.
“It was pretty tough,” India coach Duncan Fletcher told reporters. “Unfortunately that toss was pretty important. Those two wickets that England got just before lunch really put us on the back foot.
“We are not out of the match,” Fletcher added. “If it doesn’t swing and seam (in the second innings) we have players there who have 200s and 300s on their CVs. And we have the bowling also to follow up.”
Bresnan, understandably buoyant after following his test best figures and 90 with the bat at Trent Bridge, said the team wanted to bring some joy to the fans following four days of rioting and civil unrest in Britain.
“It would be nice to win and give something positive back to England but I wouldn’t say we are motivated by what’s happening,” Bresnan said. “We’re just going about our business as we would anyway.
“The atmosphere in the dressing room is really good at the moment.”
India, 2-0 down in the series, started badly. They lost veteran opener Virender Sehwag, playing his first test in eight months after recovering from shoulder surgery, to his first ball.
Sehwag gloved a shortish Broad delivery that he attempted to leave only to see it seam back into him and flick his glove. Umpire Steve Davis said not out initially but England’s decision review was vindicated courtesy of the hot-spot technology.
Gautam Gambhir (38), who started positively with seven boundaries, tried to drive Bresnan through the covers only to lose his leg stump off the inside edge.
Sachin Tendulkar (1), still seeking his 100th international century, received a standing ovation from a near 25,000 capacity crowd. England captain Andrew Strauss immediately replaced Bresnan with James Anderson who has dismissed Tendulkar seven times.
Although Tendulkar lived dangerously for the one over he faced from Anderson, he departed to Broad in the following over, pushing at a ball just outside off stump to find Anderson at third slip.
Bresnan bowled Rahul Dravid (22) on the stroke of lunch with a ball that just left him late to reduce India to 75 for four. Left-hander Suresh Raina (4) was bowled after the break by an Anderson delivery that swung back in, between bat and pad.
VVS Laxman (30) looked comfortable in his 41-ball stay at the crease until he flicked a pull shot off Bresnan to fine-leg and Amit Mishra (4) edged Broad to the wicketkeeper, before Dhoni and Kumar came together.
Dhoni was the ninth man out, caught at first slip by Strauss off Broad. He hit 10 fours and three sixes, including one slogged over mid-wicket off Bresnan.
“We’re not naive enough to think there’s not going to be a partnership – you’re never going to just blitz out a tail all the time,” Bresnan added.
“As the ball gets a bit older and you can’t rough them up as much, it does get a little bit easier to bat.”
England made one change from the team who won by 319 runs at Trent Bridge, replacing the injured Jonathan Trott with Ravi Bopara.
India made three changes with leg-spinner Amit Mishra replacing injured off-spinner Harbhajan Singh. Opener Abhinav Mukund was replaced by Sehwag and Gambhir came back for injured batsman Yuvraj Singh.
Victory would put England on top of the test world rankings ahead of second-placed South Africa and current world leaders India. England won the first two tests convincingly at Lord’s and Trent Bridge.
The England players wore wearing black armbands in memory of Neal Abberley, a former player at Edgbaston and batting mentor to Ian Bell.
India first innings
G. Gambhir b Bresnan 38
V. Sehwag c Prior b Broad 0
R. Dravid b Bresnan 22
S. Tendulkar c Anderson b Broad 1
VVS Laxman c Broad b Bresnan 30
S. Raina b Anderson 4
MS Dhoni c Strauss b Broad 77
A. Mishra c Prior b Broad 4
P. Kumar c Prior b Besnan 26
I. Sharma c Cook b Anderson 4
S. Sreesanth not out 0
Extras (b-4 lb-14) 18
Total (all out, 62.2 overs) 224
Fall of wickets: 1-8 2-59 3-60 4-75 5-92 6-100 7-111 8-195 9-224 10-224.
Bowling: Anderson 21.2-3-69-2, Broad 17-6-53-4, Bresnan 20-4-62-4, Swann 4-0-22-0.
England first innings
A. Strauss not out 52
A. Cook not out 27
Extras (lb-5) 5
Total (for no wicket, 25 overs) 84
To bat: I. Bell, K. Pietersen, E. Morgan, R. Bopara, M. Prior, T. Bresnan, S. Broad, G. Swann, J. Anderson.
Bowling: Kumar 9-4-27-0, Sreesanth 5-2-21-0, Sharma 7-2-16-0, Mishra 3-0-13-0, Raina 1-0-2-0.
England won the toss and elected to field.