India batsman Sachin Tendulkar shrugged off one of the worst slumps of his career with a resolute 76, but England claimed the honors on the opening day after a high-quality England attack, led by James Anderson, reduced a jittery India to 273 for seven in the third cricket Test in Kolkata yesterday.
Monty Panesar again showed how improved a bowler he is, barely bowling a bad ball all day. Anderson produced a reverse-swing masterclass and they were backed up by the large-hearted efforts of a fit-again Steven Finn, who took the place of the ineffectual Stuart Broad.
The England bowling was relentless and was helped by the wastefulness of the India batsmen. At least three wickets were gifted away on a pitch that did not provide any alarming turn or bounce.
Virender Sehwag (23) was run out after a schoolboy error, Gautam Gambhir (60) played a loose cut after getting set and Yuvraj Singh (32) gifted a catch to cover.
Tendulkar played a composed innings under pressure, facing 155 balls and hitting 13 boundaries in the process. His partnership of 79 for the fifth wicket with Singh was the highlight of the Indian innings as most of the other top order batsman failed to capitalize on promising starts.
Tendulkar missed a century when he was forced to edge one off Anderson and the catch was taken by wicketkeeper Matt Prior, diving to his right.
Anderson got the ball to reverse consistently in the post-tea session which saw England claim three wickets, after getting two each in the first couple of sessions on an Eden Gardens track which appeared good for batting.
It was Tendulkar’s first half-century since the Sydney Test against Australia in January, and he appeared relieved after getting to the mark with a boundary off fast-bowler Steven Finn.
Electing to bat on a flat wicket that had little to offer, India had a promising start from Gambhir and Sehwag.
However, Gambhir, yet again, was unable to convert his innin into three figures, while Virat Kohli’s poor form in the series continued as he could manage only six runs.
Anderson (3/68) rocked the home team at the end of the day with the second new ball, bowling a perfect off-cutter that breached Ravichandran Ashwin’s defense.
At stumps, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was unbeaten on 22 (from 59 balls) along with Zaheer Khan, who was on nought.
This was the first time that floodlights were used in a Test match at Eden Garden, with the last 40 minutes being played under artificial lights.