December 21, 2001

England take command between Bangalore showers

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England have tightened their grip on the third and final Test against India despite a series of rain delays at Bangalore, the longest of which wiped out the entire final session. India, 99 for 3 overnight, moved on to 218 for seven, still 118 runs behind with all their recognised batsmen gone. Ashley Giles eventually won a lengthy duel with Sachin Tendulkar, dismissing the Indian maestro for 90, and Virender Sehwag is the last man out for an entertaining if chancy 66. Matthew Hoggard, with three wickets, was England's bowling star.

Hoggard took two wickets in his first two overs after a delayed start this morning. First Rahul Dravid's largely unproductive innings came to an end when a perfectly directed delivery moved away just enough to induce a faint edge through to Jamie Foster. Dravid's three runs had taken all of 73 minutes and 61 balls to compile. India were in deeper trouble when Ganguly's poor run continued as he edged another perfectly directed delivery to Mark Butcher at second slip. Virender Sehwag was then fortunate to survive as Andy Flintoff narrowly failed to scoop up an edge to third slip.

Sehwag was not in the least overawed by the situation as he made the most of the rare loose offerings from Hoggard, taking a boundary behind square as the Yorkshireman strayed to leg, and then consecutive fours on the off-side, first to third man and then through cover. But Sehwag played and missed often enough to keep the bowlers interested, while at the other end Giles maintained his leg-stump line as Tendulkar played him with watchful caution.

The tone changed, though, when Sehwag decided to go after Giles, and the crowd roared their approval as he went down the pitch to hit the Warwickshire left-armer over midwicket for four. Not to be outdone, Tendulkar emulated the stroke before sweeping Giles for another boundary in an over that eventually cost 12 runs. But the change of policy ultimately failed him, as he gave Giles the charge in his next over, missed and was out stumped for the first time in his meteoric Test career.

Unperturbed by Tendulkar's dismissal Sehwag continued to attack, smashing a short ball from Hoggard through midwicket and taking Giles for consecutive boundaries through midwicket and square leg. After a further rain delay he reached his first 50 against England, glancing White for a single. He then resumed hostilities with Giles, reverse sweeping and pulling two delightful boundaries. It was enough to persuade Nasser Hussain to take the new ball, which he gave to Flintoff and Hoggard after 81 overs.

An edged boundary from Sehwag prompted the posting of a third man, and to Hoggard's frustration the batsman's charmed life continued when an inside edge flew between bat and stumps to the rope at fine leg. It was just deserts for Hoggard when another Sehwag edge finally went to hand, Foster taking the catch neatly, moving to his right. Tea was accompanied by the heaviest rain of the day so far, which to England's frustration prevented any play in the final session.