Anderson uproots India top order
James Anderson followed up debutant Joe Root’s outstanding 73 as England moved into a dominant position against India in the crucial fourth and final Test.
Heading into the encounter knowing a draw would secure a quite brilliant series victory - their first in India since 1985 - the tourists could today reflect on an excellent - and unexpected - decision to select Root.
The 21-year-old again showed a composure that belied his tender years on day two, responsibly opting for steady accumulation on a slow pitch Kevin Pietersen yesterday described as “the toughest wicket I’ve played Test cricket on”.
That approach paid dividends as Root’s half-century, alongside 57 and 56 respectively from Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, took England to a first-innings total of 330, which was impressive given the tacky nature of the surface.
Such an assessment looked all the more accurate as Anderson delivered a sizzling performance in the reply, claiming 3-24 over two spells as India were reduced to 87 for four - still 243 behind.
Anderson’s efforts in Asian conditions against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India this year have further enhanced his claim to go down as an England great - and the respect gained earned the first wicket.
Virender Sehwag was the man to go in the opening over; expecting more prodigious movement and fatally playing inside the line of one coming back in, the right-hander saw middle stump uprooted.
Gautam Gambhir responded with some flowing drives, enjoying a little fortune too, and Cheteshwar Pujara delivered a couple of crisp back-foot boundaries in a fifty partnership.
Swann, however, kept the ball rolling for the tourists - 2-1 ahead in the rubber having lost the first Test heavily - by having the latter brilliantly caught by Ian Bell at short-leg, though replays suggested the ball hit elbow rather than glove.
Scenting a chance, Alastair Cook brought back his lynchpin and Anderson was up to the challenge, bowling Sachin Tendulkar via an inside edge with one that nipped back and kept low - in the process becoming the most prolific bowler in Tests against the Little Master.
Amid those wickets falling, Gambhir had provided impressive resistance yet he too eventually succumbed to the irresistible paceman, feathering an attempted drive to a gleeful Prior.
Earlier, Root was on hand to further enhance a reputation he began to build yesterday. Partnered initially by a more aggressive Prior, he helped take their partnership to three figures after England had resumed on 199 for five.
While Prior profited from the cut in particular, his partner prospered via a patient approach that only altered upon the former’s departure.
Indeed, after Prior was bowled immediately following the drinks break by a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery that went on with the arm, Root began to unfurl some clever sweeps and late cuts.
He was perhaps inspired by an excellent knock from Swann, who showed plenty of controlled aggression, striking sixes over midwicket and down the ground amid a flurry of fours.
The upshot was a fifth Test half-century for the number nine, brought up after Root’s innings had ended when Piyush Chawla claimed a return catch following a rare ill-advised shot across the line.
Swann would eventually fall trying one stroke too many, trapped in front by Chawla attempting a reverse-sweep. Anderson was then taken impressively by Pujara at short-leg off the leg-spinner, who claimed 4-69, yet there was no doubt which side was in the ascendancy by the close.
11:02am - STUMPS – Ind 87/4; Dhoni 8, Kohli 11- Jonathan Trott comes on for the final over, but India see it out. A quite exceptional day for England, whose score of 330 looks all the more impressive given the hosts' precarious position in reply.
10:41am - Alastair Cook is really putting the pressure on India now, bringing back Bresnan with reverse-swing in play. He almost gets Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who drives aerially through cover for four having survived an lbw appeal earlier in the over.
10:25am - WICKET! Gambhir c Prior b Anderson 37; Ind 71/4 - This is quite sensational from Anderson. After causing Virat Kohli all sorts of problems in his previous over, the paceman lures Gambhir into an ill-advised drive and Prior pouches behind the stumps.
10:10am - WICKET! Tendulkar b Anderson 2; Ind 64/3 - The silence and sheer devastation in the crowd tells you all you need to know! What a delivery this is from James Anderson, who nips one back that keeps low, catches the inside edge and bowls the Little Master. The Lancastrian is now the most successful bowler ever against Tendulkar. England on top now.
10am - Almost a third wicket for England as Swann locates Gambhir’s inside edge, after which the ball hits pad and crashes into Prior’s chest. Very unfortunate.
9:53am - In walks Sachin Tendulkar, and his recent problems against Panesar are evident immediately as he is twice beaten by the left-arm spinner.
9:44am - WICKET! Pujara c Bell b Swann 26; Ind 59/2 - The wicket comes at a great time for England, though they are slightly fortuitous. Pujara misses an attempted defensive shot, the ball hits his elbow and Ian Bell takes a quite brilliant catch at short-leg. It's easy to see why umpire Rod Tucker thought it hit the glove.
9:33am - This is really good stuff now from Bresnan, who is causing Gambhir some problems. A slight in-dipper passes narrowly by Gambhir’s off stump before one that goes the other way finds the edge - only for the ball to drop well short of Prior and go for a four that heralds the fifty partnership.
9:24am - Monty Panesar squares Pujara up with an excellent turning delivery that catches the edge and hits the shin of Joe Root at silly point. Bresnan then beats Gambhir with a delivery that pitches and moves away from off stump. Good contest after the interval.
9:15am - Almost a run-out as Gambhir goes for a second. Matt Prior knocked down the stumps but the left-hander was back in. Cheteshwar Pujara then delivers his most authoritative stroke of the innings, pulling Bresnan powerfully for four.
9:06am - Tim Bresnan returns after the interval and begins impressively, beating the edge of Gautam Gambhir in a set of six that yields just two runs.
8:42am - TEA - India 32/1; Gambhir 17, Pujara 15 - Good intent shown by Gambhir, who’s looking in fine fettle at the moment. The left-hander skips down the track and plants Panesar over long-on for a one-bounce four. Graeme Swann regains control with a maiden and Panesar follows that with another prior to tea.
8:33am - Cracking shot again from Gambhir, finding the fence on the off side as Anderson bowls a little too full. Monty Panesar is on at the other end.
8:22am - Those of you who followed this blog yesterday may remember me writing about the importance of a short-cover and midwicket on this kind of surface. Pujara illustrates that by hitting aerially in that area off Anderson. He then enjoys a second stroke of fortune in as many balls when almost dragging on.
8:18am - Stylish shot from Pujara, who guides Anderson through backward point for four before Gambhir helps himself to a boundary via a cover drive from a poor Bresnan delivery.
8:03am - More cracking bowling from Anderson, whose short ball troubles number three Cheteshwar Pujara and narrowly misses the glove. Tim Bresnan then forces Gautam Gambhir to play and miss. England on the hunt for more wickets here.
7:54am - WICKET! Sehwag b Anderson 0; Ind 1/1 - What a start from James Anderson! The Lancastrian finds a little bit of movement back in, Virender Sehwag plays inside the line and middle stump is uprooted. Sensational scenes.
7:43am - WICKET! Anderson c Pujara b Chawla; England 330 all out - An excellent sharp catch close in by Cheteshwar Pujara accounts for Anderson off the bowling of Chawla, who ends with 4-69. Good effort from England, who would have taken that score at the start of the day.
7:35am - WICKET! Swann lbw Chawla; Eng 325/9 - Swann continues his assault by crashing Chawla for a straight six - only to fall lbw two balls later attempting an ambitious reverse-sweep.
7:29am - FIFTY! Swann (87b 6x4 1x6) Undeterred by the loss of his long-time partner, Swann continues to shine and, after thrashing a Chawla full-toss for four, brings up his half-century with a chipped boundary in the same area.
7:15am - WICKET! Root c & b Chawla 73; Eng 302/8 - Ah, what a shame. Root's outstanding innings comes to an end. The youngster advanced and looked to hit through midwicket, but a leading edge flew back to Chawla. He would have taken 73 on debut, though. Quite a performance.
7:13am - This is becoming a real gem from Swann, who brings up England's 300 with a powerfully swept four off Piyush Chawla. Exceptional stuff.
7:04am - Swann and Joe Root seem to be adopting a 'Let's start again approach', which is probably the best idea in the circumstances. Scrap that, Swann has just slog-swept Jadeja for six over midwicket. England seven away from 300...
6:43am - Graeme Swann sees out the first over of the afternoon, bowled by Ravindra Jadeja. Time for England to build once again as they initially look to pass 300.
6am - LUNCH! - England 277/7; Root 65, Swann 19 - Another superb shot from Swann, who this time uses his feet before chipping over midwicket. He and Root then see out the morning's final two overs to bring a mixed bag of a session to an end. England have added 78 runs this morning for the loss of two wickets and Root continues to impress. We will be back in 40 minutes!
5:48am - That’s what we want to see! Ojha tosses one up outside off stump, Swann goes down on one knee and slog-sweeps over midwicket for four. Less of the dramatic running would be good though; Root has just survived an appeal following a direct hit. He made his ground on the back of an impressive dive.
5:31am - Lovely start for Graeme Swann, who clips Ishant through midwicket for a well-timed boundary. Root continues his outstanding effort with a paddle-swept four off Pragyan Ojha - a shot he then repeats for three prior to Swann getting four more via an edge to third man.
5:16am - WICKET! Bresnan lbw Ishant 0; Eng 242/7 - That was plumb. Tim Bresnan does not last too long, playing all round an Ishant in-dipper to fall leg before. England need to eke out as many runs as they can now!
5:08am - WICKET! Prior b Ashwin 57; Eng 242/6 - Well, where has that come from? Ashwin, bowling round the wicket, beats Prior's edge and hits off stump with a delivery that does not turn as much as anticipated. That ends a quite exceptional stand.
4:58am - CENTURY PARTNERSHIP & FIFTY! - Root (154b 2x4 0x6) - Lovely shot from Prior, who cover-drives and picks up a three that heralds the century stand. Root then sweeps a full-toss for a single that brings up a quite excellent debut fifty. This partnership is looking more and more valuable.
4:48am - FIFTY! - Prior (124b 6x4 0x6) - And there's a deserved half-century for Prior, who once again prospers by cutting for four. Fine knock so far; he needs to make it count now. Root, by the way, is two runs from the milestone himself.
4:45am - Almost a chance as Prior attempts another cut stroke, but edges into the pads of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Timing continues to prove a difficult art on this surface. England’s wicketkeeper is now batting in a cap, by the way - something that is always good to see.
4:34am - Lovely shot from Root, who is looking outrageously composed once again. Piyush Chawla drops marginally short and the young batsman late cuts through backward point for four. Prior then continues the recent boundary rush with a back-foot punch through cover off Jadeja. Good stuff from England.
4:29am - There’s the day’s first boundary, and a further illustration of how slow this pitch is. Ishant Sharma finds Prior’s edge, but the ball immediately drops and runs down to third man.
4:14am - More of the same from England this morning as they defend stoutly and rotate the strike, which - given they only require a draw to win the rubber - is all that is needed.
4:02am - Ravindra Jadeja delivers the day's first over and Matt Prior clips off his pads for one to bring up the 200. Joe Root blocks the ensuing four balls.
3:56am - For India, the aim is simple: continue to chip away at England. Five wickets was an impressive effort after Alastair Cook won the toss - though they were helped along the way. Ishant Sharma represented the biggest threat, while the spinners looked largely ineffective despite accounting for three scalps. The hosts will hope more turn is evident this morning as they aim to secure a 2-2 series draw after falling behind in Kolkata.
3:43am - The onus this morning will be on Joe Root and Matt Prior to extend their 60-run partnership on an extremely slow surface. The former, a debutant at the age of just 21, was particularly impressive given the circumstances he entered the fray in. Prior, meanwhile, often delivers his best in situations similar to the one the tourists currently face.
3:30am - Hello and welcome to ecb.co.uk’s live coverage of the crucial fourth and final Test between England and India. The encounter is intriguingly poised in Nagpur after the tourists reached 199 for five on an attritional opening day.