India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 3rd day November 25, 2012

Pietersen, Panesar put England on victory course


India 327 and 117 for 7 (Gambhir 53*, Panesar 5-61) lead England 413 (Pietersen 186, Cook 122, Ojha 5-143) by 31 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Kevin Pietersen played one of the great Test innings to leave England scenting victory in the second Test during a day of high drama in Mumbai. Pietersen bestrode the first two sessions with a brilliant 186 and England's spinners did not waste the opportunity he had provided as Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar terrorised India's second innings in turn.

Rarely has a Test of any era had such an emphasis upon spin bowling, and the result has been a compelling contest. India will start the fourth day precariously placed with a 31-run lead and three second innings remaining. Swann and Panesar, yet to win a Test in tandem for England in eight attempts, proved themselves at least the equals of India's spinners. However, there is just a glimmer of hope for India: England will not chase any fourth-innings total above 100 with certainty.

This was a historic day as Pietersen and Alastair Cook both equalled the record for most England Test centuries, it was an enthralling day of virtually perpetual spin, it even had an element of controversy in the dismissal of Jonny Bairstow, but it largely swooned in the presence of the batting genius of Pietersen, who unveiled one of his most exceptional innings for England, 186 from 233 balls on a wickedly turning pitch, an innings played with utter conviction, awash with moments of rare skill.

The quality of his innings - and, in a different key, that of Cook - was emphasised by what followed. England's tail collapsed in quick time and then India caved in in turn, only Gautam Gambhir gamely assembling an unbeaten half-century. Panesar and Swann outbowled their India counterparts on this occasion, even if the difference was overstated because of Pietersen's brilliance, with Panesar's extra pace making him a particularly challenging proposition on a surface where he could also turn the ball markedly.

Nearly eight overs elapsed before England, holding a lead of 86, made an impression, Panesar drawing Virender Sehwag cagily forward and Swann taking a catch at gully. Cheteshwar Pujara, England's scourge, was caught at short leg off an inside edge as Swann followed suit in the next over.

The stage was set for what might prove to be Sachin Tendulkar's final Test innings in Mumbai, but there was no heroic script, no summoning of powers of old. Tendulkar survived a stumping appeal off Panesar by a whisker as his back foot momentarily lifted and was then late on his shot against Panesar to be lbw.

Was it the pressure, or merely carelessness, which then caused Virat Kohil to mistime a full toss from Swann horribly to mid-off where the substitute, Joe Root, held his nerve? Yuvraj Singh followed off the glove to short leg; MS Dhoni, a captain who had demanded turning surfaces to expose England, found himself exposed as he edged Panesar to slip. A breathless third day ended with R Ashwin's failed attempts at adventure and a skied catch to Samit Patel at extra cover.

Panesar has 10 wickets in the match to date, the first time an England spinner has done that since Hedley Verity in the 1930s. His quicker pace than India's slow left-armer, Ojha, on a pitch where both could find substantial turn, made him a more difficult proposition.

But as the dust settled - and there was lots of it - the emphasis remained with Pietersen. This was an innings of daring and presumption, one that could only be played by a batsman of great talent and even greater ego. India's spinners waited for the storm to abate in the knowledge that only when it did normal life could be resumed.

Pietersen's hundred was achieved with a reverse sweep against Harbhajan Singh, outrageous, yes, but caressed with such composure there was not the merest hint of excess. For his 150, he performed an exceptional pick-up over mid wicket off Pragyan Ojha. There was also an extraordinary loft over cover for six against Ojha, which he deposited there as if in a dream.

Ohja finally got his man, drawing a lavish drive which he nicked to the wicketkeeper, and when it was all over, and Pietersen fell, utterly fulfilled, England's last five wickets fell for 31 in nine overs as the spinners restored the natural order of things, just as houses and shops are repaired and reopened after a storm has left town

England's collapse was quickened by the soft run out of Matt Prior, who half-attempted a stolen offside single and was then sent back by Stuart Broad, Dhoni's rapid retrieve and throw beating his desperate dive for the crease. The rest fell quickly, with Harbhajan nipping in for two tail-end wickets and Panesar slogging Ashwin to deep midwicket. Perhaps he was desperate to get the ball in his hands.

The stand of 206 in 53 overs between Pietersen and Cook moved them alongside Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoffrey Boycott with 22 Test hundreds. Even if one India fielder looking on, Tendulkar, had the right to remark that they had barely started, the sense of achievement was palpable in a year that has brought England little joy.

Such achievements are years in the making, and they have been reached by two very different individuals following two very different routes, but they came within two overs of each other on a sunny Sunday morning in Mumbai.

Cook reached his hundred with a perfectly fashioned off drive against Harbhajan, lips licked in anticipation as he leant into the shot with such poise that when his career ends a representation of the shot should rightly stand alongside Henry Moore's Old Flo. Pietersen would be better celebrated with a dance song, complete with laser show.

Cook, who continued his unparalleled record of hundreds in four successive Tests as captain, fell for 122, 35 minutes before lunch, caught at the wicket by Dhoni as Ashwin found turn and bounce. Cook and Pietersen, introvert and extrovert, loyalist and rebel, had been at the peak of their game.

India took the second new ball immediately upon Cook's dismissal and they struck again on the stroke of lunch as Bairstow, controversially, became Ojha's third victim as he tried to work him against the spin into the leg side and got a leading edge to Gambhir at silly point. England felt they had a case that Bairstow should have been reprieved on the grounds that the ball had struck the grille of Gambhir's helmet.

England's director of cricket, Andy Flower, approached the match referee, Roshan Mahanama, to ask for the decision to be reversed, but as Bairstow had left the field of play, the decision could only be withdrawn if India's captain, Dhoni, withdrew his appeal. Dhoni, with the support of his coach, Duncan Fletcher, chose not to do so. By the close of a remarkable day, it all seemed quite inconsequential.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mina on November 26, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    @landl47 you seem to have completely missed the point. And yes, as a lawyer, I have read the whole law. Do read it again properly.

    The phrase "ball has previously touched a protective helmet " in the second line of Rule 3-e must be read only with the first line of this rule, and not in isolation. Which means - if the ball has first touched the protective helmet and then touched the ' umpire', 'another fielder' or 'other batsman', it is not a fair catch. Here we are talking about a fair catch only in the context of the ball touching the 'umpire, other batsman or another fielder'. Therefore, the second line of Rule 3-e should be read in context with the first sentence of Rule 3-e, and not in isolation.

  • Sharky on November 26, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    Another brilliant cricket series. Great classic cricket played so far. The 3rd Test will be very interesting.

  • John on November 26, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    Genuinely nice to see some Indian commentors (some of who I've not noticed before) giving England some respect while being self critical of their own side. Some leopards seems will never change their spots but full respect to those who are giving England credit.

  • John on November 26, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    @maddy20 on (November 25 2012, 21:16 PM GMT) Good to see you are as generous in defeat as you are in victory there.

  • Sharon on November 26, 2012, 6:23 GMT

    People calling of India "backbone" and India "winning for a decade". Winning what? Winning where? England are not a great team no-one said they were only India fan imagine it in order to cut England down. But if you think India are a great side now or have been in the past then you are deluded. A great side ought to be able to go to South Africa and Australia and win series. India never did this - so what make India fan think they have or had "great" side, eh? And if you think that South Africa beating England in England mean that the India V England whitewash didn't happen or doesn't count then this 10 wicket beating that England hand India today in India prove you are wrong. If you are talking about backbone then have a look at England V Australia Brisbane 2010. Greatness is not built on home record only. India maybe good at home but that doesn't make them great. Time for India follower to wake up and accept that India are really not that great only great in India follower mind.

  • Natan on November 26, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Sachin, mate, why are you embarrassing yourself further? Have you not learnt anything from Dravid or Laxman's graceful exit? It seems like, a genius in one area is not necessarily a genius in another. You still missed out on lot of important life lessons. The blame goes to all your mentors in your own safety network. They babysit you too much. You love the feeling and don't want to stand up and do something all by yourself. Sad to see a 40-yr old man, even after having fathered 2 kids, prefers to act like a baby and struggles to make important decisions. And what is up with otherwise brash Sandeep Patil? Is he one of Sachin's babysitter too? Sunny, Ravi, Sanjay .. are you guys listening? You need to take Sachin out for dinner tonight after the loss and teach him a lesson or three. Is 50th test century that important? Even if it means losing all the reputation Sachin built for himself so far? If so, it couldn't be any better time for him to finish with a ton at Wankhede and quit.

  • Srinivasan on November 26, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    By the way, we can take a lesson from the SA book. Look at how they are fighting to save the Adelaide Test!! Well played England...Cook, Pietersen and that irrepressible sardar Monty Panesar!!!

  • Srinivasan on November 26, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    Serious questions on the composition of the team need to be asked. What was Harbhajan's role in the team? If he was given only 21 overs to bowl against 40 apiece from the two other spinners, it reflects on the Captain's confidence in him. Not that he bowled with any great cricketing sense!! Searching questions need to be answered as to why certain batsmen are in the team...and I am not talking about Tendulkar alone. Oh for a Laxman and a Dravid in the team....asking for too much???

  • Kavin on November 26, 2012, 5:08 GMT

    In the next match We'll see Sir. Ravindra Jadeja making his test debut because Dhoni likes that Jadeja also likes to ride speedy bikes.

  • JJ on November 26, 2012, 5:07 GMT

    Well done, England! You'd played well and a great come back after the defeat in 1st test. KP, Swann and Panesar played fabulously, somehow, many have mentioned, as if the Indian bowlers were bowling on a different strip this test! Looking forward to the next test now that it's even!...

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