sport

Monty profits as India struggle

Monty Panesar was again to the fore as England chipped out four India wickets by tea on day one of the third Test at Eden Gardens.

Panesar, a key contributor to the tourists' famous victory in Mumbai last week, added two more wickets here to his 11 there.

On a pitch already offering some uneven bounce to the spinners, and some carry and swing for the seamers with the new and old ball, India reached 172 for four thanks principally to Gautam Gambhir's second successive half-century.

The two morning wickets came in contrasting circumstances, Virender Sehwag departing courtesy chiefly of boundary fielder Steven Finn and Cheteshwar Pujara then out-thought by Panesar.

The signs were ominous for England, after Alastair Cook lost his third successive toss of the series at a ground where India have declared with more than 600 on the board in the first innings of their last three Tests.

Cook's opposite number Mahendra Singh Dhoni had predicted a modicum of help for the pace bowlers in the first hour, and so it proved for James Anderson and Finn, who replaced out-of-form vice-captain Stuart Broad for this match.

It came to nothing, though, as Gambhir (60) and Sehwag approached a half-century stand - until their running between the wickets failed them.

Sehwag clipped the first ball of the 11th over to midwicket. But Samit Patel saved the boundary with a diving stop and Finn's race from mid-on in support paid off handsomely when he threw in over the stumps to comfortably run out Sehwag after he was sent back for a third.

It was hardly the way England might have envisaged taking the first wicket, but proved the value of all their attention to detail and painstaking training.

Panesar's first success came in more conventional, indeed classical, fashion.

He had worked hard to draw Pujara forward several times, and then surprised him on the back foot with an arm ball which snaked through the defence to hit middle-stump.

Gambhir, joined by Sachin Tendulkar to the obligatory raucous crowd reception at this cavernous stadium, appeared unperturbed by a failure from India's prolific new number three.

The left-handed opener had hit 10 fours and duly completed his 81-ball half-century with a scampered single before lunch.

But he was first to go in the afternoon, laying back to cut after losing the strike against Panesar and edging a sharp chance to slip which Jonathan Trott just about clung on to.

Tendulkar scratched his way to his first 20, regularly playing and missing at Finn and then Anderson as Cook operated the two seamers in tandem with Panesar.

Finn's fine spell went unrewarded, but Anderson's did not when Virat Kohli edged low to Graeme Swann at second slip.

Swann had bowled only three overs at that stage, but was called into the attack to give Panesar a rest after 21 unchanged.

Anderson might easily have had Yuvraj Singh lbw for nought, but could not convince umpire Rod Tucker the ball had hit the pad in line with off-stump.

The number six survived as he and Tendulkar, four runs shy of his half-century, closed out the session.