Sussex fight out tense draw
Indians 388 for 7 dec (Karthik 76, Gambhir 81, Dravid 57, Laxman 95) and 184 for 8 dec drew with Sussex 300 for 6 dec (Yardy 53, Hodd 106*) and 190 for 9 (Montgomerie 59)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
A day of several twists and turns saw the match going down to the wire and 17 wickets falling but the Indians would have been sorely disappointed at not being able to pick up that one last wicket to win their tour opener. A batting collapse in the morning was followed by Rahul Dravid's declaration, setting Sussex a target of 273; the bowlers managed to take nine wickets but the last pair held out for 8.5 overs, Robin Martin-Jenkins scoring a gritty 45.
The day began with Sussex's fast bowlers making inroads into the Indian top order and swinging the advantage their way. A ninth-wicket stand of 64 between RP Singh, whose 41 was his career-best score, and Rahul Dravid saved them from potential embarrassment at 120 for 8. Dravid eventually declared on 184 for 8 shortly before tea.
Sreesanth struck an early blow during Sussex's chase, when Chris Nash top-edged a pull to Ishant Sharma at mid-on, but his new-ball spell wasn't as impressive as his first innings effort for he bowled much straighter and lacked swing. RP Singh, however, bowled an excellent spell, hitting a good length and getting several balls to leave Michael Yardy before pitching one close enough to take the outside edge to Karthik, who was keeping wickets in place of the injured MS Dhoni.
Ranadeb Bose also improved on his performance in the first innings and got the ball to swing away from the right-handers after pitching much closer to the batsmen. He was rewarded just before tea when Carl Hopkinson played an expansive drive at an outswinger and edged to point, where Gambhir dived full stretch to his left to take the catch.
At tea, Sussex were 46 for 3 and the likelihood of a draw grew as Richard Montgomerie and Michael Thornley added 50 runs for the fourth wicket. Kumble opened the door for the Indians by bowling Thornley and followed up by trapping Montgomerie lbw with the googly. Sussex were 106 for 5 and, when Andy Hodd and Olli Rayner fell cheaply, it seemed a matter of time before the Indians wrapped it up. However the last three batsmen - Saqlain Mushtaq, James Kirtley and Jason Lewry - hung around for 22.5 overs to deny the Indians.
Although the Indians had the better of the day by taking nine wickets, the inability to take the final wicket will surely rankle. Sreesanth's rhythm in the second innings was hot and cold and Bose was also toothless after his first spell because he was swinging it outside the off stump at no real pace. Kumble, who's mopped up many tails over the years, was unable to dislodge Jason Lewry, the No 11 batsman, even though he had two full overs at him at the end.
If the end was disappointing, the day's beginning was alarming as the Indian batsmen failed to exhibit the same application they had on Day One. Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Karthik, the overnight batsmen, got out after settling down and Gautam Gambhir fell to a half-hearted shot before getting his eye in, a luxury that cannot be afforded against England.
Kirtley struggled to adjust to the right- and-left-hand combination and bowled a leg-stump line, allowing Yuvraj to get going with a couple of easy boundaries behind square on the leg side. Yuvraj scored predominantly on the on side, barring one cover drive for four, but Kirtley eventually got him to nick an attempted leg-glance to wicketkeeper Hodd.
Karthik batted fluently, latching on to anything short from Lewry, cutting through point and pulling in front of midwicket. He was unsettled, though, by Martin-Jenkins with a short ball that caught him off guard and kissed the gloves before flying over Hodd's head. A little later, Martin-Jenkins pitched one on leg and middle and got it to straighten; Karthik tried to flick and was struck plumb in front to leave India on 76 for 4. Gambhir, usually proficient at dispatching wide deliveries through point, then decided to play at a Martin-Jenkins delivery very late; it climbed on him and he spooned an easy catch to Carl Hopkinson at point.
Rahul Dravid, batting with Karthik as a runner because of his strained calf, and VVS Laxman were solid against both pace and spin, and Laxman hit a couple of classy drives through cover before he was dismissed by a stroke of bad luck. He went on to the back foot to hit a long hop from Saqlain Mushtaq through covers, Michael Thornley found himself in the way at silly point and the ball bounced off his shin pad straight to Hodd behind the stumps.
India had lost four wickets for 95 runs in the morning session and it got worse in the first over after lunch, when Yardy had both Kumble and Sreesanth caught at short leg. At 120 for 8, Sussex were confident of batting soon but RP Singh batted freely and kept slogging Yardy and Rayner with the turn to the midwicket fence and lofting them down the ground. RP Singh's 41 came off only 46 balls and Dravid decided it was time to let his bowlers have a shot at Sussex after the lead reached 272. The lead was ample enough but the Indian bowlers weren't able to finish the job in the limited time.
George Binoy is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo