Anderson lands early blow

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Andrew Flintoff

Skipper Andrew Flintoff helped steady the ship with a patient half-century © Getty Images

James Anderson struck early for England with the wicket of makeshift opener Irfan Pathan as India closed on 18 for one after being set a daunting 313 to win the third and final Test in Mumbai.

With Virender Sehwag injured, Pathan opened alongside Wasim Jaffer but had made just six when a full toss from Anderson found the inside edge and cannoned into the stumps.

Nightwatchman Anil Kumble was charged with ensuring no more wickets fell and he did the job, although by the close England held a 294-run lead with one day left.

Earlier, Andrew Flintoff played a captain's role, facing 146 balls for his 50 and ensuring the tourists' made 191 in their second innings, a lead of 312.

However, it could have been much more but for fine bowling performances from Harbhajan Singh (2-40) and Kumble (4-49).

Resuming on 31 for two at the start of the day's play, 152 runs ahead of their opponents, Owais Shah and Shaun Udal kept the scoreboard ticking over, with Shah in particular in fine form on his Test debut.

Udal, on the other hand, survived several close calls - especially inside edges - and scratched around for 14 before nicking Pathan to second slip where Wasim Jaffer held on.

Kevin Pietersen joined Shah and the pair added 12 runs before the Hampshire right-hander was sent back to the pavilion by an athletic piece of fielding from 35-year-old spinner Kumble.

Owais Shah

Owais Shah continued his fine form in India © Getty Images

Pietersen (seven) looked to play against the spin and got a leading edge that was well held by a diving Kumble in his follow-through.

By lunch, England had reached 85 for four - a 206-run lead - but they lost their third wicket of the day almost immediately after the resumption when Shah (38) was run out going for a quick single.

The Middlesex star was at least two metres short of his ground when Sachin Tendulkar swept in from gully and hurled the ball to wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who whipped off the bails.

It could have been so much worse for England moments later but Flintoff - on nought - was dropped by Yuvraj Singh at silly point.

He made the most of his luck and, with Paul Collingwood, pushed the tourists beyond the three-figure mark.

Flintoff progressed to 14 when he advanced down the wicket to Harbhajan and completely missed the ball, only for Dhoni to fluff the stumping chance.

India applied the pressure as the run rate hovered at around two per over, but by tea no more wickets had fallen as Flintoff and Collingwood stood firm.

Consecutive fours from Flintoff provided a flurry of runs at the start of the evening session, but when Collingwood (32) attempted the same he drove Harbhajan on the up and the off-spinner took a sensational one-handed, diving catch to break the 66-run partnership.

Geraint Jones (three) also became a victim of the fire-brand spin bowler when an attempted pull spiralled into the air and Pathan took a fine catch, running around from mid-wicket.

Flintoff established the 300-run lead for England with a towering leg-side six off Harbhajan, but he was quickly losing partners and Matthew Hoggard came and went for six, lbw to Kumble.

Flintoff himself eventually became the ninth wicket to fall, stepping down the wicket to Kumble but swinging at thin air before turning to see Dhoni stump him.

Anderson (six) was the last man to go, caught at slip by Rahul Dravid, leaving India just over half an hour to bat before the close of play.

The loss of Pathan ensured England ended the day in the ascendancy.

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