Mumbai: England's spin duo of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann rocked the Indian batsmen to make the tourists the red-hot favourites to claim the second Test at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday .
After the Three Lions took an 86-run first innings lead through Kevin Pietersen (186) and Alastair Cook (122), Panesar, who bagged 5 for 129 in the first innings, took another five-for and combined with Swann to send back Virender Sehwag (9), Chesteshwar Pujara (6), Sachin Tendulkar (8), Virat Kohli (7), Yuvraj Singh (8), MS Dhoni (6) and Ravichandra Ashwin (11) to put their team on top. The hosts closed the day on 117 for 7 with Gautam Gambhir (53) and Harbhajan Singh (1) at the crease, leading the visitors by just 31 runs.
Sehwag and Gambhir started off well to take India to 30, but then Sehwag lost his concentration and hit a Panesar delivery straight into the hands of Swann at gulley. Pujara, who scored 135 in India’s first innings, fell to the guile of Swann as Jonny Bairstow took a diving catch at short leg. Tendulkar, whose retirement talks are doing the rounds big time, once again fell to Panesar who trapped the 39-year-old lbw with an arm ball.
After conceding an 86-run first innings lead, the hosts closed day three on 117 for 7 with Panesar taking 5 for 61.
Kohli's dismissal was the most bizarre as he hit a simple full toss from Swann straight into the hands of substitute Joe Root at mid-off. Yuvraj looked in trouble from ball one and succumbed to a Panesar delivery that kissed his glove and Bairstow did the rest at short leg. Panesar then wiped out Dhoni as the India captain pushed forward and the ball took an edge off his bat and went straight to Jonathan Trott at first slip with the hosts reeling at 92 for 6. Ashwin hit Swann for a big six, but in an attempt to hit Panesar out of the park he holed out to Samit Patel at the covers. Ashwin was Panesar's fifth wicket.
Earlier, Pragyan Ojha led India's fightback with a fifth five-wicket haul as the visitors were bowled out for 413 just before tea. Kevin Pietersen, who was unbeaten on 138 at lunch, continued to assault the Indian bowlers before his innings of 186 was terminated by Ojha as Dhoni took a sharp catch behind the wickets. Matt Prior, who has been in excellent form, ran himself out for 21. After pushing a delivery off Ashwin, he scampered for a single. However, Stuart Broad at the other end didn’t show any keenness and Prior had to run back but it was too late for him as Dhoni picked up the ball in a flash and threw it to Kohli who ran over to the stumps from the second slip to dislodge the bails.
Harbhajan, who until then was listless, sprung into action, removing Broad (6) and James Anderson (2) in one over to complement Ojha’s efforts not a little. Ashwin took his second wicket of the innings by dispatching Panesar for four as the visitors went into the break with a lead of 86 runs on a pitch that's been partial to spinners. Earlier in the second session, Patel fell to Ojha after adding 59 runs with Pietersen. On 26, Patel gave a simple catch to Kohli at second slip.
The visitors, in reply to India's 327, went into lunch at 298 for 4 with Bairstow, who has replaced Ian Bell for this match as the latter has gone back to England to attend the birth of his first child, succumbing to Ojha for 9 in the last over before the break as Gambhir took a nice catch at silly point. However, replays showed later that the ball bounced off Gambhir’s helmet before he pouched it, and according to the ICC rules such catches are illegitimate.
Resuming the day on 178 for 2, Cook, who also scored a brilliant 176 in the first Test in Ahmedabad, soon scored the required 13 runs to reach his 22nd ton to join Geoff Boycott, Colin Cowdrey and Wally Hammond as England’s highest century-makers in Tests.
Cook and Pietersen played with absolute authority and nullified Ojha, who took two wickets in the final session on Saturday, and Ashwin a great deal. While Cook was defensive in approach, Pietersen played the role of aggressor and took the Indian spinning duo to the cleaners.
Not long after his captain's ton, Pietersen, who was unbeaten on 62 overnight, too completed his 22nd ton to join the illustrious league of Boycott, Cowdrey, Hammond – and of course - Cook. However, against the run of play, Ashwin broke the 206-run partnership by sending back Cook for 122 off 270 balls as Dhoni took a nice catch behind the wickets. He smashed 13 fours and a six during his innings.