Sun, Dec 21, 2008 - Page 20 News List

India leave England mountain to climb

COMMANDING TOTAL Rahul Dravid hit a century and Gautam Gambhir passed 1,000 Test runs this year as India scored 453 in their first innings to take control of the game

AFP , MOHALI, INDIA

India’s Yuvraj Singh, right, plays a shot as England fielder Ian Bell, left, shields himself from the ball during the second day of the second Test between India and England at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali, India, yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

India took charge of the second and final Test against England yesterday after posting a commanding 453 in their first innings.

Rahul Dravid returned to form with a century and Gautam Gambhir completed 1,000 runs in the year as India survived a middle-order slump to leave England with a mountain to climb.

The tourists, seeking a series-leveling win after losing the first Test in Chennai by six wickets, must not only put up a big total, but also give themselves enough time to bowl India out a second time.

England, who were scheduled to bat nine overs before stumps, were unable to begin their reply as umpires Daryl Harper and Asad Rauf called off play because of fading light.

Dravid and Gambhir put on 314 for the second wicket after coming together at the dismissal of Virender Sehwag in the second over of the match on Friday.

Dravid scored 136, his 26th Test century and the first in 20 innings since making 111 against South Africa in Chennai in March.

Left-handed Gambhir, who was on 106 overnight, went on to make 179 to take his tally this year to 1,037 runs from eight Tests at an average of 69.13.

India were comfortably placed at 320-1 when England fought back with four quick wickets to reduce the hosts to 339-5 in the post-lunch session.

Yuvraj Singh and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni added 40 for the sixth wicket, before a late order revival saw India pass the 450-run mark.

Off-spinner Graeme Swann removed Gambhir and Dravid in the space of nine runs after lunch, both falling to miscued lofted balls while trying to quicken the run rate.

Swann then trapped first Test century-maker Sachin Tendulkar leg before wicket for 11 and Andrew Flintoff earned a similar verdict against Venkatsai Laxman, who was out for a duck.

Left-arm spinner Monty Panesar earned his first success in the match when he had Yuvraj caught behind for 27 and he later also had Harbhajan Singh holing out in the deep.

Flintoff and Swann finished with three wickets each, while Panesar claimed two on a pitch still affording bounce to the bowlers.

Earlier, Dravid reached his hundred midway through the morning session by flicking James Anderson for a single to loud cheers from some 2,000 home fans and from his teammates in the dressing room.

His effort will silence critics who had demanded his exclusion from the Test team after he managed just 342 runs in his last 10 matches at an average of 19.

The 27-year-old Gambhir moved past 1,000 runs in the calendar year with a flick off Collingwood to become the fourth Indian after Tendulkar, Laxman and Sehwag to achieve the feat this year.

■AUSTRALIA v S AFRICA

Stumps on Day Four of the first Test in Perth, Australia:

• Australia 375 & 319

• South Africa 281 & 227-3

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