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England hit back after Kumble milestone

Dravid defied fiery English pacemen with 60 not out. Ind 149/4 (Eng 300) | Scorecard

india Updated: Mar 11, 2006 20:32 IST

Rain God finally allowed fighters to show the size of their hearts and Anil Kumble to busk in glory.

There were many heroes on Saturday who turned the PCA Stadium into an arena.

Andrew Flintoff, for defending and attacking with the bat, then coming back to bowl 11 fiery overs to dismiss Sachin Tendulkar.

Steve Harmison, for his pace and bounce, so reminiscent of Curtley Ambrose.

Rahul Dravid, for ducking, even jumping to put the rising balls down with soft hands during his exhibition in which he told his mates how to stand upright in the storm and Kumble, for not merelygetting past the 500 mark, but for showing the never ending urge he has to bowl and take wickets.

He challenges as much the batsmen as he challenges himself to improve.

In reply to England 300 in the first innings, Indians were in a precarious position, finishing the third day of this second Test at 149/4.

The Perfect Storm:

It was hostile bowling from English pacemen, right from the word go. In fact, it could have been worse for India, but Dravid was defiant, as if not in a mood to undo the good work done by Kumble (5/76).

With Dravid (60 not out in 147 balls, 4 fours), there would be Mahendra Singh Dhoni (12 not out in 18 balls, 2 fours) on the morrow to keep India's hopes alive.

Dravid was standing alone amid the storm. Yuvraj (15) came in for support. But the left-hander's flamboyance didn't last, driving Matthew Hoggard to short cover where Ian Bell took a blinder.

Dhoni joined Dravid who was at ease playing the cut, flicking to midwicket and sweeping Monty Panesar while defying the fiery pacemen.

But if England had no clue how to break through his defence, they did strike from the other end.

Wasim Jaffer (31 in 104 balls, 2 fours) had been determined, but as Panesar proved, good spinners could test the patience of most.

Jaffer's seemed poised to convert his start, but the left-arm spinner left him packing with his change of pace, and the batsman played to Flintoff at short cover.

A little man called Sachin Tendulkar came to a big roar after the end of that 77-run partnership for the second wicket between Jaffer and Dravid.

But the joy of the fans was short-lived. Harmison was spitting venom at Sachin (4), repeatedly bowling bouncers at more than 90 miles per four.

But it was Flintoff who did the damage, forcing the master to edge his bouncer to the other Andrew— Strauss— in the second slip.

Post-lunch session:

English pacemen rarely erred in anything— line, length, swing, seam. They, including Matthew Hoggard, also bowled at lively pace.

After the fall of Virender Sehwag, Jaffer matched Dravid in everything that the Indian captain did while defending them.

It was because of that India could take tea at 52/1.

Englishmen kept on bowling on the corridor of uncertainty, and each time the two Indians were up to the task, blocking the good length balls, leaving alone the away going ones, and ducking assuredly the short ones.

Inevitably, the bowlers became tired, bowling the odd bad balls, and Dravid and Jaffer were quick to change gear. Dravid on drove Flintoff and one Jaffer's pull off Plunkett was by far the prettiest shot played in the match.

The brief Sehwag show:

Sehwag never needs an excuse to score at a hefty pace, something he does with a glint in his eye.

There was also an inspiration to take on Saturday. Kumble's 500 wickets gave him that. And the Indian innings was off to a flier with Sehwag (11 in 13 balls, 2 fours), not once but twice, effortlessly driving Hoggard to the cover boundary.

But Sehwag ran into Harmison who was making the ball fly at a pace, which was too fast for Sehwag to keep his gloves out of the way and Geraint Jones took the catch.

England got the start they wanted.

Kumble's moment:

Kumble's 32nd five-wicket haul made him become the first Indian to take more than 500 wickets, 501 to be precise, in Tests, as England, from 288/6 at lunch, collapsed and were all out for 300.

After having stranded at 498 for long, the leg spinner took three wickets in four balls. He was on a hat trick after dismissing Geraint Jones (52, 134 balls, 8 fours) and Steve Harmison in successive balls, only to be denied by Panesar (0), the local boy of the England team.

But that remained the only ball he survived, as all he could do in the very next one was to edge it to Rahul Dravid in slip.

England resistance was over at 300, more than 200 less than what Kumble has collected by rolling arm over in 105 Tests.

When play resumed after lunch, Irfan Pathan did trouble Jones with his swing, but it was Munaf Patel who brought the first Indian cheers after lunch.

Munaf's pace forced L Plunkett (0) glove one going down leg, and Dhoni took the easiest catch that could be seen.

Jones who soon completed his sixth half century in Tests, playing a fine square drive off Pathan, which took him to 51 from 47.

Pre-lunch session:

Defying the eternal threat called Kumble, Flintoff was taking England forward, while also completing his 19th half century in Test cricket.

But Dravid, after having dropped him on 31 off Munaf, decided enough was enough and took the new ball finally in the 90th over.

Munaf had already surprised Kevin Pietersen with his change of pace on Day One, and on Saturday, it was the turn of Flintoff (70, 123 balls, 11 fours, 2 sixes) who pushed one hard only to rest in the hands off the bowler.

That was the end of Flintoff's 103-run partnership with Geraint Jones for the sixth wicket.

England took lunch at 288/6, adding 88 runs in the morning session as the Rain God finally showed some mercy on Mohali, clearing the sky for the umpires to start play at 10:00am.

Composed knock:

Knowing that the job ahead was quite a tough one, Flintoff was playing against himself! He stayed away from his natural instinct, which was to attack.

Although his 50th run came through a leaning edge off Kumble, which almost carried to the man at point, Flintoff played a composed knock, tackling his counterpart Rahul Dravid's move, which was to apply spin attack from both ends.

Harbhajan Singh was getting the ball to turn, but Jones was not having as much difficulty against the local boy as his was having from the man from Bangalore.

After a nervous start, Jones was finding life lot easier at the wicket. As unlike against Kumble, there was so much freedom against the rookie leggie Piyush Chawla whom he could easily drive, cut and pull.

Cautious start:

England made cautious start on Saturday morning. Maybe, that had something to do Flintoff getting a scare.

On 31, Dravid, usually a safe hand in the first slip, dropped him.

At the other end, Jones was at sixes and sevens against Kumble, failing to read everything the Indian was throwing— the leg-spinner, googly, straighter one.

Teams:

India: Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel, Piyush Chawla.

England: Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, G Jones, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, L Plunkett, Monty Panesar.