Dinesh Karthik scored a half century and India punished England's wayward bowling to reach 117 for 1 at lunch yesterday in the third and final test at The Oval.
Leading 1-0 in the three-match series, India took control on the opening day with Wasim Jaffer hitting a 6 and six 4s in his 35 as he dominated a first wicket partnership of 62. At the break, Karthik was unbeaten on 50 and Rahul Dravid was 25 not out.
James Anderson was punished for his inability to keep the ball straight and had 46 taken off his eight overs in the first session. But the Lancashire bowler captured the only wicket when Jaffer chased after yet another wide delivery and top-edged a catch to Kevin Pietersen at third man.
Needing to win the match to avoid losing a home series for the first time in six years, England initially pinned the Indian openers down after Sourav Ganguly won the toss and decided to bat.
The first runs didn't come until the 21st ball of the innings when Jaffer square drove a wide delivery from Anderson through point for four.
Jaffer continued to attack Anderson's erratic bowling. When the paceman hurled another delivery far too wide at the end of the sixth over, Jaffer got a top edge and the ball flew all the way over the rope at third man for a six.
Karthik, who had made only five compared with Jaffer's 30, survived a leg-before-wicket appeal off the second ball of the 12th over when Chris Tremlett got the ball past the inside edge of his bat. Umpire Ian Howell ruled it was going over the stumps.