Ashwin makes England wait
A remarkable rearguard from Ravichandran Ashwin held up England after the tourists had looked set to wrap up an innings victory over India in the third Test at Kolkata.
Ashwin ended day four unbeaten on 83, having carried his side to 239 for nine and an unlikely lead of 32 following a dramatic batting collapse.
England remained overwhelming favourites to take a 2-1 series lead, but would have to wait to do so.
A day of three contrasting sessions provided no shortage of intrigue.
India dominated the morning, wrapping up England’s first-innings for 523 in quick time before responding to a deficit of 207 by dashing to 86 without loss through controlled aggression from Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
Alastair Cook’s side regained control in scintillating fashion by claiming six wickets for 36 runs at the start of a memorable afternoon session, with Graeme Swann and James Anderson the central figures.
Virat Kohli and Zaheer Khan then fell in successive Steven Finn overs after tea, but England would rue a missed stumping chance when Ashwin had 22. In fairness to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, a deflection off the batsman's pad made it an extremely tricky chance.
India duly avoided an innings defeat as the resourceful Ashwin shared 38 in 18 overs with Ishant Sharma - who was eventually bowled by Monty Panesar - before dominating an unbroken 10th-wicket partnership of 42 with last man Pragyan Ojha.
Ashwin’s relatively untroubled progress was in sharp contrast to that of his top-order colleagues, who crumbled in a dramatic 80-minute spell after lunch.
Swann bowled Sehwag through the gate for 49 and Cheteshwar Pujara was run out by Ian Bell’s direct hit before Gambhir was caught behind aiming a lazy drive at Finn.
Gambhir looked to have been dismissed by Swann moments earlier, but survived when the umpires checked whether an edge had carried to Jonathan Trott at slip. Replays showed the catch had been taken cleanly, but the third umpire spotted that there had been no bat involved, with the ball coming off Gambhir’s pad.
England were not hindered by the incident and Trott was soon able to celebrate after pouching a thick edge from Sachin Tendulkar, who was deceived by a Swann delivery that went on with the arm.
Anderson then bowled Yuvraj Singh with one that kept low and claimed a second wicket as Mahendra Singh Dhoni nicked off to opposite number Cook at slip without scoring.
After a brief lull in proceedings, Kohli feathered an edge through to Prior off Finn and Zaheer was beaten by reverse-swing when falling lbw.
An England victory with a day to spare appeared inevitable at that stage, but Ashwin had other ideas and will begin the final day requiring 17 to complete a second Test century.
Live Text Commentary
10:48am - STUMPS - Ind 239/9; Ashwin 83, Ojha 3 - An unbelievable rearguard from Ashwin ensures everyone will have to come back tomorrow. India lead by 32, having taken the gloss off another terrific day for England.
10:42am – Ashwin hammers a drive back past Anderson for four and then moves to 81 with a glorious pull off Finn. This really is quite an innings and Prior will be regretting that missed stumping chance when Ashwin had 22.
10:32am - Swann gets a full over at Ojha, but cannot find a way through despite beating the edge twice in succession. England take the second new ball immediately and hand it to Anderson.
10:28am - This is all rather frustrating. Ashwin goes aerial with a fine swipe over mid-on for four. A century is not out of the question for India’s number eight.
10:20am – The defiant Ashwin is farming the strike effectively. He will be on a hat-trick if called upon for England’s second innings. Maybe that has been his motivation!
10:14am - Ashwin is embarrassing a few of his top-order colleagues here. A lofted cover-drive against Panesar is followed by a whip off the hips for four more. England need to strike soon if they are to have enough time to finish this tonight.
10:08am - FIFTY! Ashwin (111b 8x4 0x6) - Number 11 Pragyan Ojha signals his intent by lofting Panesar over mid-off for two and a top-edged sweep off Swann then takes Ashwin to 49. The next ball is edged down to the boundary to level the scores and England will have to bat again.
10:03am - WICKET! Ishant b Panesar 10; Ind 197/9 - Prior thinks he has Ishant stumped, but the batsman just about got his foot back behind the line in time. Panesar finally gets his man, though, as Ishant misses a straight one for the second time in the match.
9:52am - This ninth-wicket partnership is now worth 33, although Swann and Panesar look as though they could strike at any time. India are 192 for eight and need a further 15 to avoid a humiliating innings loss.
9:43am - Graeme Swann is brought on after drinks as England look to apply the finishing touches to a magnificent performance. Panesar subsequently finds the edge of Ishant once more, but the ball drops short of slip.
9:33am - Ishant picks up another boundary with a thick outside edge that almost took off Anderson’s head at slip! A wayward delivery from the latter then drifts down the leg side for four byes.
9:24am - After defending stoically for umpteen deliveries, Ishant cracks James Anderson through the covers for four. Ashwin, a much more capable batsman, then displays sweet timing when guiding Finn to the midwicket rope.
9:14am - England are being made to wait for their ninth scalp. India are going nowhere, however, and still trail by 41.
9:01am - DROPPED CHANCE - Matt Prior is arguably the most reliable man in the England dressing room, but he has not had the best 10 minutes. He spills a thin edge from Ishant Sharma and poor old Monty is not happy. That’s two overs in succession where the spinner could have had a wicket.
8:53am - MISSED STUMPING - Prior misses an opportunity to stump Ashwin off Panesar, although that chance was made more difficult by the ball brushing the batsman’s pad on the way through.
8:47am - WICKET! Zaheer lbw Finn 0; Ind 159/8 - I wouldn’t fancy facing Steven Finn and it doesn’t look as though Zaheer is enjoying himself either. His misery is brought to a swift end when he is trapped on the crease by a full delivery that swung in appreciably. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena thinks that would have clipped leg stump and the end appears to be nigh for India.
8:45am - Has Zaheer Khan been caught behind immediately? No, he’s safe. It looked as though there may have been glove involved as the tailender attempted to dodge a short ball from Finn, but the ball merely brushed Zaheer’s thigh. Ashwin puts away a full toss from Panesar to reduce India’s deficit to 48.
8:39am - WICKET! Kohli c Prior b Finn 20; Ind 155/7 - In reaching 20, Virat Kohli moves to his highest score of the series. He won’t be adding to that number, however. Steven Finn finds a hint of reverse-swing and a loose drive results in a fine edge through to Matt Prior. England will be confident of wrapping this up swiftly now!
8:35am - We’re back under way in Kolkata and it’s a loose start from Monty Panesar, who drops short on leg stump and allows Ravichandran Ashwin to pick up his second boundary. India’s number eight then cuts for four more.
8:13am - TEA - Ind 145/6; Kohli 19, Ashwin 8 - I think that might just have been England’s session! Kohli and Ashwin make it through to tea, but India must still be in shock after losing six wickets for 36 in an extraordinary 80-minute spell after lunch. The hosts trail by 62 at tea and England will hope to wrap up a second successive win this evening.
8:03am - Kohli drives Swann through the covers to move to 17. There is not a lot of batting to come, it has to be said.
7:55am - Monty Panesar returns and beats Ashwin with extravagant turn. An appeal for a stumping follows, with the batsman having briefly lifted his back foot, but it proves in vain.
7:47am - Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin have been left with an unenviable task here. The former capitalises on a rare loose delivery from Anderson with a confident drive through midwicket, but India now need a miracle.
7:38am - This really has been an extraordinary collapse from India - one that will surely prompt serious questions of Dhoni and his side. England are rampant.
7:30am - WICKET! Dhoni c Cook b Anderson 0; Ind 122/6 - Goodness me - this may not last much longer! India’s captain nicks off to his opposite number at first slip without scoring. Anderson has two and India have lost six wickets for 36 since lunch. Amazing scenes.
7:23am – WICKET! Yuvraj b Anderson 11; Ind 122/5 - Another one bites the dust! Yuvraj is cleaned up by one that kept low from round the wicket.
7:17am - Yuvraj Singh shows his class with a wonderful punch down the ground off Swann. It’s fair to say India need him and Kohli to hang around here. James Anderson is reintroduced after drinks as England scent victory.
7:06am – DROPPED CHANCE - A bit of clarification regarding the earlier Gambhir incident. Even in the absence of DRS, the umpires are still able to ask whether the ball was hit when checking for a low catch. So the left-hander was rightly given not out. Back to the live action and England almost claim a fifth wicket when Bell fails to take a sharp chance at short square-leg off Finn. Kohli was the lucky batsman and he also survives a strong lbw appeal later in the over.
7am - WICKET! Tendulkar c Trott b Swann 5; Ind 107/4 - England - and Graeme Swann in particular - are on fire! Tendulkar is caught at slip when pushing tentatively at a length delivery. The hosts still trail by 100.
6:53am - WICKET! Gambhir c Prior b Finn 40; Ind 103/3 - England don’t have to worry about Gambhir any longer! Driving with his feet in concrete, the opener edges Finn behind and is caught by Prior. India are in real trouble now as Virat Kohli joins Sachin Tendulkar.
6:49am - This is all a bit bizarre. England think they have Gambhir caught at slip. The umpires, unsure if the ball carried, call for TV assistance, which confirms that Jonathan Trott reacted superbly to take the catch cleanly. However, it also appears the ball came off pad rather than bat. Gambhir therefore survives, but with no DRS in place I’m not sure he should have. Anyway, India have now moved into three figures.
6:43am - WICKET! Pujara run out (Bell) 8; Ind 98/2 - A Swann delivery goes on with the arm and keeps low to beat Pujara. The left-handed Gambhir looks all at sea against Finn and is then involved in another run-out! Ian Bell’s terrific direct hit accounts for Pujara, who had been called through for a quick single into the leg side.
6:35am - Things have quietened down a little, with India’s second-wicket pair clearly aware of how important this session could be. England will be so happy to have removed Sehwag, but they still have plenty of work ahead of them. Finn sees an lbw appeal against Gambhir turned down; the ball looked to be sliding down from round the wicket.
6:24am - Swann is posing a real threat now and neither Gautam Gambhir or Pujara look particularly comfortable. The latter almost picks out a diving Alastair Cook at short midwicket, before a more convincing stroke brings four through the covers. This is an absorbing passage of play.
6:20am - Cheteshwar Pujara is the new batsman and gets off the mark with a sweetly-timed straight drive for four off Steven Finn.
6:10am - WICKET! Sehwag b Swann 49; Ind 86/1 - That is a HUGE breakthrough for England!! Graeme Swann, who probably should have caught Virender Sehwag for seven this morning, strikes with the first ball after lunch. Sehwag drove loosely and was bowled through the gate by a glorious off-break.
5:30am - LUNCH - Ind 86/0; Sehwag 49, Gambhir 33 - Sehwag punishes a short ball from Swann with a fierce cut before slog-sweeping through square-leg. Gambhir follows his partner’s lead by clearing the long-on rope off Panesar. Another big shot produces four more and India have fought back very well this morning.
5:22am – Panesar is back into his work and it looks as though the effect of the roller is beginning to wear off as Swann rips one past Gambhir’s outside edge. How England would love a wicket prior to lunch.
5:15am - It was simply a change of ends for Swann, who is swept hard for four by an increasingly aggressive Sehwag. The opener misses the next ball, but the ball keeps low and goes through Matt Prior’s legs for four byes.
5:11am - The frustration grows for England as Sehwag and Gambhir continue to reduce their side’s arrears. Samit Patel takes over from Swann and starts with a dreadful full toss that Sehwag punts down the ground. Nine runs come from the over and India have moved past 50.
5am – MISSED CHANCE - It would be harsh to call this a drop, although Ian Bell is one of the best short-legs I’ve ever seen, so he alone may think he should have taken this. Gambhir turns Panesar straight to the fielder under the helmet, but there was virtually no time to react as Bell threw his hands up. I think he was struck on the shoulder.
4:57am - We have spin from both ends after drinks as Swann replaces Anderson. Not too much turn for England yet; maybe the roller has taken a bit of life out of the pitch, for the time being at least. Sehwag appears to be suffering some discomfort in his left knee. Beware the limping batsman!!
4:46am - Monty Panesar is introduced and serves up a full toss that Gambhir happily puts away to the left of mid-off. The impressive Anderson then forces a play-and-miss from Sehwag, who is struck on the glove later in the over.
4:38am - MISSED CHANCE - That’s an awful shot from Gambhir, who fails to get bat on ball when wafting at a wide delivery from Anderson. In the Lancashire seamer’s next over, Sehwag gets a thick edge and sees the ball fly between first and second slip. I think both Graeme Swann and Alastair Cook got their fingertips to that one, and it was the former who may feel he should have done better moving to his left. To compound England’s frustration, Sehwag bashes a half-volley through midwicket for four more.
4:25am - Anderson maintains a good line and length to Gambhir in a probing maiden. Finn, working up a decent pace, then beats Sehwag outside off. India have 11 on the board after four overs.
4:16am - Virender Sehwag opens the face and guides Steven Finn down to third man for four. The paceman responds superbly with a fierce lifting delivery that flies through to Matt Prior.
4:10am - An early wicket or two would put England in an excellent position here. James Anderson, the star of day one, finds immediate swing into Gautam Gambhir, but the left-hander tucks the ball through square-leg for four before being beaten by the next delivery.
3:57am - WICKET! Panesar lbw Ashwin 0; Eng 523 all out - Panesar fails to survive his first ball, although he is extremely unfortunate to be adjudged lbw as umpire Kumar Dharmasena misses a thick inside-edge onto pad. Just the 14 runs added by England this morning, but they end the first innings with a healthy lead of 207.
3:55am - WICKET! Anderson c Sehwag b Anderson 9; Eng 523/9 - Anderson’s little cameo comes to an end, but England will be pleased to see further spin on this fourth-day pitch. An off-break from Ravichandran Ashwin is edged to slip, where Virender Sehwag holds on once again.
3:52am - There’s not much point in England blocking here and Anderson appears keen to attack Zaheer. After finding fresh air with one attempted shot through the covers, the ‘Burnley Lara’ connects sweetly with his next attempt and the ball races away to the boundary. A nice clip through midwicket brings Anderson three more useful runs.
3:44am - That’s more like it - Finn presents a straight bat and the ball flies past mid-on for four. That was in the air for a while, but England won’t mind in the slightest. James Anderson nudges Ojha past short-leg for a single and the lead is now 200.
3:38am - WICKET! Prior c Dhoni b Zaheer 41; Eng 510/8 - Steven Finn blocks out the remainder of the opening over. Prior then looks to run Zaheer Khan down to third man, but succeeds only in edging through to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Not quite the start England were hoping for this morning.
3:33am - WICKET! Swann c Sehwag b Ojha 21; Eng 510/7 - India claim an early breakthrough. After Matt Prior drives the first ball of the day for a single, Graeme Swann nicks a flighted delivery from Pragyan Ojha to first slip and departs without addition to his overnight 21. Plenty of turn in evidence there.
3:28am - Prior and Swann walk out to the middle. Let’s see how many England can tag on to their current total of 509 for six.
3:20am - Although England's work with the bat is not yet done, many observers are already looking ahead. India are certainly going to have to bat well if they are to salvage a result from this game, especially with a wearing pitch now offering more assistance to the bowlers. There was increased turn and variable bounce yesterday.
3:10am - Matt Prior and Graeme Swann did a fine job of keeping England in control yesterday evening following the earlier heroics of Alastair Cook, not to mention healthy contributions from Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen. The seventh-wicket pair have put on 56 so far and will aim to add to that tally this morning.
3am - Hello once again and welcome to our live coverage of the third Test between India and England at Kolkata's iconic Eden Gardens. The tourists begin day four with a lead of 193 and four first-innings wickets still intact.