India fall prey to own design
After Cook and Pietersen hit centuries, India batsmen cave in against Panesar and Co to leave visitors on the verge of victory. Sanjjeev K Samyal reports. Day 3 | Scorecardindia Updated: Nov 26, 2012 02:12 IST
All types of stats started to fly on the social media network when Sachin Tendulkar fell. The comparisons with his greatest rival for the tag of the best batsman of their generation, Ricky Ponting, looked inevitable, for both are floundering in their respective home series.
If Ponting has just 20 runs in three innings in the series versus South Africa, Sachin Tendulkar has 29 from three innings of 13, 8 and 8 against England. In his last nine Tests, Ponting has 166 runs at an average of 18.44, Tendulkar has 145 at 16.11.
For their outstanding record, they will get a few more outings, but there is no denying that the end is nearer than ever.
Ponting, at least, has the consolation that the rest of his mates have made up for him and put Australia in a position of strength, Tendulkar's despair is more as his team is staring at a heavy defeat at Wankhede, his home turf.
It was a wicket where only the best could have got runs, as proven by the knocks by Cheteshwar Pujara, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen. Hence, India needed the maestro to be at his best.
To the disappointment of the Mumbai crowd, their hero was a shadow of his old self. It was the wicket which sounded India's death knell in the second Test as it came moments after the man in form, Pujara, had suffered his first failure of the series.
At the end of Day Three, England were on the threshold of perhaps their greatest win on Indian soil. After taking a lead of 86, Monty Panesar cut through to leave India reeling at 117 for seven. Opener Gautam Gambhir is playing a lone hand with an unbeaten half-century, but with a lead of just 31 runs and just three wickets in hand, he is waging a losing battle.
How Panesar would love to take this turf with him wherever he plays! It has suited his style of bowling; he has understood the right pace to bowl and has hit the right areas. To cap a brilliant performance, the left-arm spinner grabbed his second fifer of the game to claim a well-deserved 10-wicket match haul.
The match was set up for the visitors by Pietersen and skipper Cook. With England still 149 behind at the start of the day, it was anybody's game but they pieced together a breathtaking 206-run partnership to put England on top.
Both reached their 22nd hundreds in the opening session to become joint toppers of England's highest Test century makers' list. Cook departed for 122, but Pietersen continued his spectacular show of strokeplay to win over the Mumbai crowd during his epic 186. Every man in the packed arena rose in unison when Pietersen raised his bat on reaching the three-figure mark. It was also to appreciate his audacity in completing his hundred with a reverse-swept four.
Save a miracle, India are out of the game. It is a performance that will rankle more than any defeat in the Dhoni-era, for they got everything they wanted.