Kolkata: The partisan crowd at the Eden Gardens witnessed a great contest between bat and ball on Wednesday. While England displayed high quality bowling as they reduced India to 273 for 7 at stumps on day one, a couple of Indian batsmen showed plenty of resolve, with Sachin Tendulkar scoring his first half-century - a well-fought 76 - after ten innings and Gautam Gambhir too making a contribution of 60 runs.
James Anderson produced one of the most hostile spells of swing bowling, troubling Tendulkar and other batsmen throughout and ended with 3 for 68 in 21 overs. He made the ball swing late both ways, inducing some edges from Tendulkar's blade. He got the reward when he had Tendulkar and Virat Kohli (6) caught behind, enticing them to play loose strokes outside off stump.
England bowled to Tendulkar with a set plan, with close in fielders being set for the spinners and Anderson bowling to him in each session. But Tendulkar, whose first boundary was his trademark punch on the back foot, looked set for a big innings before he was caught in two minds playing a drive and was taken one-handedly by wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
India faltered as none of their set batsmen could go on to make a big score. Skipper MS Dhoni (22) and Zaheer Khan (0) were in the middle when the stumps were drawn on day one. Except the 79-run stand for the fifth wicket between Tendulkar and Yuvraj, the hosts failed to string any partnership of note.
Yuvraj was another batsman who threw his wicket away after getting his eye in, chipping to Alastair Cook at short extra-cover for 32. Ravichandran Ashwin (21) played a couple of wristy shots for fours before he was clean bowled by Anderson as India scored 101 runs in the last session.
Earlier, starting the second session from 90 for 2, India mustered 82 and lost the wickets of Gambhir (60) and Kohli. When Gambhir was looking set to break the century drought, he was dismissed again playing a loose cut shot off Panesar.
Yuvraj would have thanked his lucky stars as he survived two close leg-before shouts from Anderson and Swann. If DRS had been employed for this series, Yuvraj could have been given out on both occasions. But the left-hander played some delightful strokes, driving Swann through covers and mid-on for boundaries.
Gambhir made merry on a placid Eden Gardens' wicket, hitting a half-century to take India to 90 for 2 at lunch, along with Tendulkar, who was unbeaten on one.
Gambhir (50*) and Virender Sehwag (23) laid a solid foundation, sharing 47 after MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat, before the two involved in a terrible mix-up. Sehwag tried to steal a third run, which was never available, to a flicked shot towards deep midwicket and was short to a throw by Steven Finn, who was drafted into the England side along with Ian Bell.
India included Ishant Sharma in place of Harbhajan Singh for this match, for seamers tend to get some help in the air and off the wicket throughout the day, especially in first and last hour of the day.
Cheteshwar Pujara played some delightful wristy strokes for his 16 but was done in by Panesar's length delivery, which pitched in line and found the gap between bat and pad before hitting the timber. It also led to another wild celebrations by Panesar, who seemed to be doing a combination of Bhangra and Gangnam, with a whistle to accompany.
Gambhir was a little tentative early on in his innings but struck a couple of well-driven fours once he got his eye in. He reached his fifty with a well-stolen single to mid-off.