England dismantled India by seven wickets in the 3rd Test at Kolkata to take 2-1 lead in the four-Test series.
England dismantled India by seven wickets in the 3rd Test at Kolkata to take 2-1 lead in the four-Test series. India's abject surrender in the Test is an indication of their shocking slide in Test cricket since England tour 2011. From being the No. 1 Test team, they are being reduced to Pipsqueaks in their backyard. Before the Test series started, the word 'revenge' was the flavour of the season as India were aiming to 'whitewash' the visitors to settle the score for their ignominious 4-0 pounding in England.
But after three Tests, England have turned the tide by registering back-to-back victories in the Test matches at Mumbai and Kolkata. Last time England won back-to-back Tests in India was 35 years ago in 1977 when they won three Tests on the trot - at Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.
In Kolkata, India won the toss and elected to bat for the third time in a row in the series. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir gave team a flying start as India raced to 45 in 10 overs before a terrible mix-up resulted in Sehwag's run-out. Sehwag whipped James Anderson to deep midwicket where Samit Patel dived and saved the boundary. Sehwag turned for the third run after completing a couple but Gambhir didn't move from his crease. Sehwag was half way down the pitch when Gambhir refused to budge. Steven Finn's flat throw did the rest. The dismissal thwarted the momentum India had spawned and despite Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni's half-centuires India could only muster 316 on a flat deck in their first innings. Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Yuvraj Singh failed to tot up any significant scores.
The second turning point in the match came when England skipper Alastair Cook, who had cracked two consecutive centuries at Ahmedabad and Mumbai, was dropped when he was batting on 17. In the 14th over of England innings, Zaheer Khan induced an outside edge of Cook's bat but Pujara spilled a low catch at first slip. Cook went to ring up his record-breaking 23rd Test century, third in a row, as England piled up a mammoth 523 to take a lead of 207 runs. He capitalized on the reprieve and didn't give any more chance to Indian bowlers. During this innings he became the batsman with maximum Test centuries for England and the first batsman to register five centuries in first five Tests as captain.
India again began well in the second innings and galloped to 86 for no loss at lunch on day four. The deficit was reduced to 121 and Sehwag was cruising in an unbridled manner. England team looked tad anxious and surely must have had the feeling of deja vu regarding Chennai Test of 2008 when Sehwag's blistering 83 turned the match on its head. But India's hopes of redemption came crashing down as Sehwag was castled by Graeme Swann on the first ball after lunch. Swann flighted the ball outside the off stump and invited Sehwag to drive, but the ball dipped and turned in sharply to sneak between Sehwag's bat and pad to clatter his stumps.
The wicket opened floodgates for India as wickets fell in a heap. Pujara was run out soon as Gambhir called for a tricky single. Tendulkar was outdone by Swann's delivery which went straight on while he played for the turn. Gambhir played a reckless shot to get caught behind off Steven Finn while Yuvraj was flummoxed by Anderson's delivery which cut in and stayed low. Six wickets fell in space of 17 overs and 36 runs which extinguished India's chances of saving the match. R Ashwin batted superbly and motored the tailenders along to save India from innings defeat and took the match to day five. On the Sunday morning, India were all out for 247 in their 2nd innings as Ashwin remained unbeaten on splendid 91.
Chasing the meagre target of 41, England wobbled and lose three wickets for 8 runs. Cook played an uncharcteristic shot by stepping out to a wide ball and was stumped off Ashwin. Jonathan Trott was trapped lbw by Ojha and Pietersen nicked a ball from Ashwin which straightened. Though the target of 41 was too small, there was palpable zing among the Indian players as they anticipated an outside chance to topple England. But Ashwin darted a couple of full-tosses and Ian Bell biffed them for boundaries. Bell, who is woefully out of form, cracked a string of boundaries to eradicate the pressure which was building up. He made an attractive 28 off 28 balls and remained not out to take England home. Nick Compton remained unbeaten for 9 off 30 balls.
The fourth, and final, Test of the series will be played from December 13 to 17 at Nagpur.