England complete Kolkata victory
Ravichandran Ashwin’s heroics proved in vain as England moved 2-1 ahead in the four-Test series with India courtesy of a wonderful seven-wicket triumph at Eden Gardens.
The defiant Ashwin added eight to his overnight 83 before James Anderson bowled Pragyan Ojha to end India’s second innings on 247, leaving a modest target of 41.
Ashwin and Ojha then combined to reduce England to eight for three, but there was to be no dramatic turnaround as Nick Compton and Ian Bell, who looked in excellent touch en route to 28 not out, guided the tourists home.
Written off in some quarters following a heavy defeat in Ahmedabad, Alastair Cook’s men have now completed two convincing victories in a row.
Should they avoid defeat in Nagpur next week, they will become the first England side to win a Test series in India since 1985.
This latest success, which came after another lost toss, should not be underestimated. Indeed, England were only forced to bat for a second time due to Ashwin’s astonishing rearguard.
The number eight moved closer to a second Test century when striking two fours in the first over of day five, bowled by Steven Finn.
Yet Anderson calmed any England nerves by clipping Ojha’s off stump to claim his sixth wicket of the match.
Ashwin, on a hat-trick from the first innings, had Cook stumped off the fifth ball of the chase and India were given further reason for excitement as Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen departed in successive overs.
Trott was plumb lbw to an Ojha delivery that skidded on, while Pietersen became a second victim of Ashwin when edging through to Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
It was left to Compton, solid as ever, and Bell to finish the job; encouragingly, the latter exhibited a timely return to form with several classy strokes.
Outplayed for much of the game, India, who had not lost at Kolkata since 1999, will surely come under intense scrutiny ahead of the series finale.
Live Text Commentary
4:25am - ENGLAND WIN BY SEVEN WICKETS!!! - Bell picks up four more through the covers before finishing the job in the next over. He ends unbeaten on 28 and that was a handy little cameo. England are 2-1 up heading into the final Test in Nagpur, having thoroughly outplayed India for a second match in succession. Great stuff!
4:22am - This is just what Bell needed. After a couple of low scores in the series, he looks in fine nick here, epitomised by a cover-driven four off Ashwin.
4:17am - Ashwin serves up a juicy full toss and is driven down the ground by Bell. That was a sweet piece of timing. The next ball is guided through the covers for three before Compton picks up four to third man. Just 12 more needed now.
4:11am - After his heroics with the bat, Ashwin really is doing his best to keep India in this game. He sends down a maiden to keep the score on 14.
4:06am - Ian Bell gets off the mark with two into the leg side. He then picks up four through midwicket, although that was in the air for a while and almost picked out the fielder!
4:03am - WICKET! Pietersen c Dhoni b Ashwin 0; Eng 8/3 - England are wobbling. Pietersen gets a thin edge through to Mahendra Singh Dhoni when playing defensively against Ashwin.
4am - Ojha rips one past the outside edge of Kevin Pietersen. England only need 34 more, but they will not want to lose another wicket.
3:58am - WICKET! Trott lbw Ojha 3; Eng 7/2 - Whoops ... this was not in the script. India pick up a second scalp as Trott props forward to Ojha and falls lbw to one that skidded on. That looked pretty plumb to me.
3:55am - That early wicket does not look to have changed England's approach. Both Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott are keen to get on with things and are showing a willingness to attack.
3:49am - WICKET! Cook st Dhoni b Ashwin 1; Eng 4/1 - Ashwin starts the innings on a hat-trick but is denied as England's skipper takes a single off the first ball. There is a wicket later in the first over, however, as Alastair Cook dances down the pitch and is beaten by sharp turn to be stumped.
3:38am - WICKET! Ojha b Anderson 3; Ind 247 all out - Well, that's a relief! After a couple of fours from Ravichandran Ashwin off Steven Finn, England make the breakthrough. Pragyan Ojha survives three deliveries facing James Anderson, but is then bowled by a one that clips the top of off. India's number eight is stranded on 91; England need just 41 for victory and a 2-1 series lead.
3:25am - England have not won in Kolkata since 1977, while India's last defeat at this venue came back in 1999. This could be a historic day.
3:15am - Morning everyone. Ravichandran Ashwin held up England yesterday with a magnificent unbeaten 83, but the tourists still appear poised to win the third Test in Kolkata. India are about to begin the final day on 239 for nine, leading by just 32, with Ashwin having contributed 83 so far.