|Player:||GP Swann, A Flintoff, RS Dravid, G Gambhir|
|Event:||England in India 2008/09|
DateLine: 20th December 2008
When India took the honours of the morning session, England struck back stunningly to claim the second and third session to entertain some serious thoughts to level the series. Gambhir and Dravid batted with monk-like concentration to lay the platform in the first session, Flintoff in the company of Swann fought back admirably to give England a fighting chance in the second and third session.
Dravid recorded his 26th century while Gambhir went past 1000 runs for the year. Flintoff’s duel with Yuvraj was again a stirring one with the paceman touching the 150 mark at one stage of the spell. India then sensing that time factor will come into play; decided to give it a go and lost wickets regularly against a resurgent English attack. Barring Panesar, all the English bowlers performed well and dented the necessary blows when the Indian batsmen were going beyond there control.
Gambhir and Dravid pile on runs and agony
Rahul Dravid jogged through for one of the most important singles of a glorious career, a single that ended one of the most publicised droughts in recent memory. It was a triumph for beleaguered Rahul Dravid. The hundred said much about Dravid's character as his skill and, in the context of the series, it shut England out.
Dravid was in his element early in the innings. He got a full toss from Broad and flicked it to boundary to start his scoring of the day. After the new ball was taken Dravid upped his ante and scored boundaries at will in the first few overs of the new ball. But as he crossed the nineties he was watchful. Anderson was impressive but could not find the target or the nick. But as he reached the nineties, Flintoff was summoned into the attack and he very nearly coaxed Dravid to edge the ball behind on 98. The atmosphere was tense.
When Dravid finally reached a hundred by flicking Anderson to fine leg, the Mohali crowd stood to clap. The Indian dressing room broke into smiles and applauded Dravid, as did a few of the England team, but there were no celebrations from Dravid. It was very subdued, typical of the man, just a raise of the bat to his team-mates. Carrying on from the grind on day one, Dravid's batting was a testimonial to strength of mind and guts.
It was slow going for most of the morning. The partnership, a record second-wicket stand for India against England, passed 250 when Gambhir hooked Broad through midwicket for four. Graeme Swann again got the ball to turn, Panesar continued to be a major disappointment and unsurprisingly, it was Flintoff who probed away, his last five-over spell of just eight runs being typically bullish.
A flurry of boundaries just before lunch from both batsmen - Gambhir crossed 150 - indicated a comfortable switch in tempo.
Swann and Flintoff pull England back
England went into lunch with their shoulders drooping but then re-entered the arena with renewed fire in their belly. Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid's 314-run partnership had pretty much batted them out of this match. From the first over after lunch it was evident that the pedal has been stepped on and the acceleration will be on. Gambhir and Dravid began to play some hurried shots and in that process lost their wickets quickly.
India had come out after lunch looking for runs but instead lost wickets. Gambhir chased a wide one from Swann to Alastair Cook and then Dravid mishit one to Panesar at deep mid-off. Next to go was Sachin Tendulkar, out sweeping across the line, just reward for a testing spell from Swann, before Flintoff put VVS Laxman out of his misery, by trapping him plumb in front. India had lost four wickets for just 19 runs.
India's acceleration was put on hold during the second session, and Yuvraj Singh was lucky as Cook put down a sitter in the gully. Flintoff had continued his duel with Yuvraj, repeatedly angling the ball across the left-hander and testing him with the bouncer. The trap had been set, but Cook didn't reciprocate the bowler's efforts. It was another intense spell from Flintoff, clearly the best of England's stint, always probing away and typically bullish. Swann again got the ball to turn, and had figures of 3 for 88.
Dhoni and Yuvraj kept their cool and took India to tea-session without further damage and England can finally claim a session as their own in this Test. Panesar once again disappointed with his unimaginative bowling where as Swann was always on look out to how to remove a batsman.
India collapses but still in front
The procession of wickets continued even after the tea session but the agenda of the batsmen were very much clear, quick runs were the order of the day. Pietersen opened the session with Swann and Panesar and had to see the punishment meted out to them by Yuvraj. Swann was disdainfully hammered into the midwicket for a maximum where as Panesar was easily dealt with. Finally Panesar got the wicket of Yuvraj courtesy a lazy shot and the joy of Panesar was there to see. He seemed very much relived.
Harbhajan can call himself an all-rounder as he again contributed with an useful cameo and Dhoni who was subdued for a large period suddenly came to life by crashing Anderson for a couple of boundaries in the same over. But he soon fell in trying to up the ante and Harbhajan fell in quick succession. Mishra showed that he could wield the long handle well and scored some useful runs.
Flintoff and Swann led the counter attack and Flintoff in an amazing gesture allowed Swann to lead the English team off the field as he was the one who had started the fight back. When the English openers came out the umpires offered the light to them which they gladly accepted and the stumps were declared for the day