sport

England put pressure on India

Debutant Joe Root's 73 runs and three more wickets from James Anderson combined to put India under pressure on day two of the final Test.

Twenty-one-year-old Root, a surprise inclusion for this match which England must at least draw to complete a series victory, rose to the occasion with a determined 229-ball knock in an England total of 330.

Anderson (three for 24) has been reliable and often expert all tour - and after he induced an India wobble to 87 for four at stumps, the value of Root's fine effort was apparent. The young Yorkshireman's range of stroke, like everyone else's, was constrained by the limitations of a deathly slow Nagpur pitch.

But he was increasingly assured, in a century stand with Matt Prior (57) for the sixth wicket and then one of 60 for the eighth with Graeme Swann (56).

After Kevin Pietersen also made 73 on Thursday, Root could take much of the credit for ensuring England dug out a total of substance since stumbling first to 16 for two and then 139 for five.

Prior beat Root to his half-century, defying the physics of this paceless surface to bag a trademark square-cut off Pragyan Ojha for his sixth four.

There were only two boundaries in Root's 50, and four in all by the time he was done in a composed innings featuring compact defence against spin and the seam of Ishant Sharma - with the sweep his main outlet to slow bowlers.

His and Prior's first task today was to negotiate another spell from Sharma, in these extreme conditions which have made India's solitary seamer a bigger threat than any of their four spinners.

There were no scrapes against any of the bowlers, though, until Prior succumbed to Ravichandran Ashwin.

The off-spinner struck, from round the wicket, with a delivery that did not turn but snaked past Prior's defensive push on the angle to hit off stump.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni sensibly turned straight back to Sharma (three for 49), to attack the new batsman, and that obvious switch worked when Tim Bresnan missed an inswinger to go for a second-ball duck.

This was a pitch which did not appear likely to suit Swann's natural timing and clean-striking, but he confounded that premise.

It was Root, in fact, who was to go first after lunch - untypically up the wicket to drive leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and succeeding only in chipping back a return catch.

Root remonstrated with himself by banging his bat into his pad, having made his first serious mistake just when a maiden hundred was beginning to look a possibility at his first attempt.

He had little reason for self-reproach - a statement which also applied to Swann, despite the regrettable attempted reverse sweep which eventually proved his undoing lbw to Chawla.

By then, England's number nine was well in credit after hitting six fours and his team's only two sixes - over long on off Ravindra Jadeja and then again, to celebrate his 50, off Chawla.

The leg-spinner also picked up the last wicket, that of Anderson thanks to a sharp catch straight off the face of the bat by Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg, to give Chawla flattering figures of four for 69.

Anderson quickly got his own back when he bowled the dangerous Virender Sehwag for a duck in the first over of India's innings, the opener somehow managing to play defensively inside an inswinger and losing his middle stump.

Pujara and Gautam Gambhir shared a half-century stand either side of tea until the number three fell in unfortunate circumstances.

Ian Bell produced an outstanding 'catch', diving to his right to take the ball one-handed just off the turf; the snag, though, was that Swann had beaten the bat and hit Pujara only on the underside of his arm before another deflection off his pad.

Sachin Tendulkar's miserable series continued when Alastair Cook recalled Anderson to take the veteran master batsman's wicket for a record ninth time in Tests.

Tendulkar was undone by more low bounce and an inside edge on to his stumps, continuing his sequence of moderate scores which have been interrupted only by a half-century in the first innings at Eden Gardens last week.

When Anderson then saw off Gambhir as well in a spell of two for three in four overs, edging an attempted drive behind, it was evident for the first time that England were taking control.