Sun, Aug 12, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Kumble's hundred sets up Test series win for India

REMARKABLE TURNAROUND After just hanging on for a first Test draw with one wicket remaining three weeks ago, the tourists now look as if destiny is on their side

AFP , LONDON

India batsman Mahendra Dhoni, right, hits a delivery from England bowler Monty Panesar toward the boundary as wicketkeeper Matt Prior looks on during the second day of the third Test at The Oval in London on Friday. England were 24 for one in reply to India's first innings of 664 at the close.

PHOTO: AFP

Anil Kumble's maiden Test hundred all but assured India of a series win over England on the second day of the third and final Test at The Oval on Friday.

At the close England were 24 for one in reply to India's first innings of 664, still needing a further 441 to avoid the follow-on target of 465.

Kumble's 110 not out was the centerpiece of what was the highest Test total by India, 1-0 up in the series, against England, surpassing the 628 for eight declared they made at Headingley in 2002.

Remarkably, given the quality of the visitors' batting line-up, Kumble's hundred was the first by an India batsman this series with the 36-year-old leg spinner reaching the coveted three figures in his 118th Test.

Before the close India had Andrew Strauss out for six, the left-hander caught at deep backward square leg by Shanthakumaran Sreesanth after hooking Zaheer Khan.

And Sreesanth was unlucky not to have Alastair Cook leg before wicket for eight, the ball hitting pad before bat.

Cook was 12 not out at stumps and nightwatchman James Anderson unbeaten on five.

It was a remarkable turnaround for India, who just three weeks ago clung on for a first Test draw with one wicket standing when bad weather cut short play on the last day at Lord's.

India began the final session on 559 for seven.

By then England had long been handicapped by the absence from their attack since lunch of left-arm quick Ryan Sidebottom because of a sore left side.

Kumble, still 24 runs short of his hundred when India's ninth wicket went down, lofted left-arm spinner Monty Panesar for a straight six to bring up India's 600.

Last man Sreesanth ensured the runs kept coming with three fours in as many balls off paceman Anderson, who led the attack with four for 182 from 40 overs.

The moment Kumble, whose previous best Test score was 88 in Calcutta against South Africa in 1996, had been waiting for came when he inside-edged an intended cut off part-time spinner Kevin Pietersen for four through the legs of wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

It was a tough innings for Prior, who dropped two catches and conceded 33 byes.

Kumble, who'd fallen to the ground in completing the shot, rose to celebrate his century having faced 180 balls with a six and 15 fours.

Sreesanth struck four sixes, and by the time he was out, for 35, he'd helped Kumble add 73 for the last wicket -- a record for either side in an England-India Test.

India had merely to avoid defeat in this match to win only their third series in England in 15 campaigns dating back to 1932.

England, by contrast, had to win to maintain their six-year unbeaten run in home Test series.

Earlier, Mahendra Dhoni struck a blistering 81-ball 92 featuring four sixes and nine fours.

Pietersen, who before this match had a Test bowling average of 221 with one wicket -- Pakistan's Kamran Akmal at Lord's last year -- saw his third delivery driven high over long-on for six.

But Dhoni, going for a third six in a row, hold out to deep midwicket where Cook, running in from the boundary, took a well-judged low catch.

Sachin Tendulkar, who made 91 in India's seven-wicket second Test win in Nottingham, had made 82 when he guided Anderson to first slip Strauss.

The "Little Master" faced 192 balls with 11 fours in an innings lasting nearly five hours.

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