India dealt two late blows to leave England fighting for survival in the second Test yesterday after Kevin Pietersen had lifted the tourists with a robust 144.
England, replying to India’s first innings total of 453, recovered from a disastrous start to move to 280-4 before two quick wickets saw them end the third day’s play on a shaky 282-6.
Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, who put on 149 for the fifth wicket, departed in the last two overs of the day as the game swung India’s way.
England captain Pietersen was given out leg before wicket to Harbhajan Singh in the penultimate over, while Flintoff (62) edged a catch to short-leg off Amit Mishra from the final delivery of the day.
Nightwatchman James Anderson was unbeaten on 1, with England still trailing by 171 runs with four wickets in hand in a match they must win to draw the two-Test series.
Pietersen came into bat after two wickets had fallen off the first seven deliveries of the innings and defied the Indians for almost the entire day while compiling his 15th Test century.
Pietersen put on 103 for the third wicket with Alastair Cook (50) and a crucial century stand with Flintoff to boost the tourists, who lost the first Test in Chennai by six wickets.
The skipper’s defiant knock contained his trademark switch-hit, in which he changed to a left-handed stance as Harbhajan was running in to bowl and pulled the off-spinner for six.
The 45-Test veteran of South African origin completed 4,000 career runs when he reached 105, the third fastest to the mark for England after Herbert Sutcliffe (43 matches) and Len Hutton (44 matches).
When Pietersen moved to 129, he achieved the rare feat of scoring 1,000 runs in a calendar year for the third successive time.
Andrew Strauss, who hit a century in each innings in Chennai, lasted only three deliveries as left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan claimed him leg before with a ball that swung late.
Ishant Sharma then bowled Ian Bell with the first ball of the second over, uprooting the middle stump as the batsman played a lazy defensive shot.
■N ZEALAND V W INDIES
AFP, NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND
A maiden Test century by Tim McIntosh and the arrival of spin gave New Zealand the edge on the third day of the second Test against the West Indies yesterday.
At stumps, the West Indies were 62 for two in their second innings, still two runs from catching New Zealand’s 64-run first innings’ lead.
In a day of fluctuating fortunes, New Zealand appeared set for a lead of at least 150 when they cruised past the West Indies first innings 307 for the loss of only four wickets.
But they squandered much of the advantage when McIntosh went nine runs later for 136, setting off a collapse that saw their last six wickets fall for only 55 runs.
New Zealand began the third day at 145 for two and lost Taylor on the second ball for his overnight score of 4, caught behind by Demesh Ramdin off Fidel Edwards who finished the innings with a career best seven for 87.
Jesse Ryder came to the crease and with McIntosh scored freely to all corners of the ground.
■AUSTRALIA V S AFRICA
South Africa stunned the Aussies after completing the second-highest run chase in history when they made 414-4 to win the first Test in Perth, Australia, yesterday. A.B. de Villiers was 106 and J.P. Duminy 50 when the Aussies were overhauled.