Finn looks to turning points
Two pieces of “magic” have helped to put England within touching distance of another historic Test victory in India.
After Ravichandran Ashwin’s stubborn and skilful resistance, Alastair Cook’s team must wait until tomorrow to wrap up what still seems a certain second successive win over their hosts.
They have reached the verge of a 2-1 lead, with one match to play, by stumps on day four at Eden Gardens - thanks to much honest endeavour as well as moments of inspiration.
As Steven Finn reflected on the job done so far to reduce India to 239 for nine - despite Ashwin's unbeaten 83 - and a lead of only 32, he cited Graeme Swann's perfect off-break to bowl Virender Sehwag as one of two pieces of telling brilliance that set them on their way.
The other was Ian Bell's direct-hit run-out of number three Cheteshwar Pujara, the second of six wickets to fall for only 36 runs after Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had begun to eat worryingly into a first-innings deficit of 207 in an opening stand of 86.
“I thought that ball to get us going after lunch from Swanny was an excellent delivery, and that kickstarted us into the session,” said fast bowler Finn, who took 3-37 himself.
“A bit of magic from Bell to get the run-out then really propelled us, and as a team we backed each other up.
“I wouldn’t say there’s been too much between the two sides; our batsmen played very well against the Indian bowlers and we were fortunate a little bit of magic - well, a couple of bits of magic - in that middle session got us those wickets.”
England were within two more scalps of an innings victory inside four days when Ashwin was joined by Ishant Sharma for a determined stand of 38.
The number eight then added an unbroken 40 with last man Pragyan Ojha to further frustrate England.
Finn added: “At the beginning of the day, if you’d have said India would be 30 ahead and nine wickets down, I’m sure we’d have taken it.
“That last hour and 45 minutes was a little bit frustrating for us. But we stuck to our guns; we were patient throughout the day ... and that paid dividends with those quick wickets in the middle session.”
Finn was prepared to give Ashwin due credit too.
“He played very well there,” said Finn. “That bit of rearguard resistance was excellent batting.
“He played the reverse-swing very well and he was patient, took runs when he needed to and put trust in the man at the other end. It was good Test cricket. I thought it was a great day of Test cricket."
England also endured an awkward first session in which they lost their last four wickets for just 14 runs and then could find no way past Sehwag and Gambhir.
“I thought India bowled very well,” said Finn. “To get those four quick wickets this morning was good bowling - we certainly didn’t want to lose those wickets as quickly as we did.”
England believe nonetheless they are beginning to reap the rewards of all the hard work they have put in to be more competitive in Asian conditions since the shock of being whitewashed by Pakistan in Dubai and Abu Dhabi last winter.
“We felt as a team that it’s been coming, almost,” said Finn. ”We’ve worked very hard since getting beaten 3-0 in the UAE. That was a massive eye-opener for us.
“We’ve been saying we’ve worked hard to adapt our games to these conditions over in the sub-continent, and now it’s starting to pay dividends in terms of results.
“But let’s not be presumptuous yet; if we win tomorrow we’re only going to be 2-1 up in the series.
“It’s important going into the fourth Test we have no complacency and keep working. That’s a great point about this England side – we’re always looking to get better.”