Bangalore: Sachin’s unbeaten 77, Matthew Hoggard’s two wickets and Ashley Giles’ abject negative bowling were the highlights of the first session of play as India reached 149 for five at lunch on the third day of the final Test against England at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday.
To frustrate Tendulkar and India seemed to be England’s ploy at the outset as left-arm spinner Giles adopted an absolutely negative line way down the leg side to the right handed Indian batsmen. Wicket-keeper James Foster, in fact, was standing six stumps away from the normal behind the wicket’s stance for Giles.This tactic resulted in Giles conceding just nine runs of the 11 overs that he bowled in the morning of which eight were maidens.
Only Sachin managed to swipe down the leg side for a boundary and most other times it was the body under play.Sachin was the focus as a fairly huge gathering for the first time collected at the stadium despite the cold and overcast conditions. England began operations with Flintoff and Giles against the overnight Indian pair of Sachin and Rahul Dravid.
The first change in bowling, Hoggard replacing Flintoff, paid dividends as Dravid was caught in two minds and edged a catch to wicket-keeper Foster. Normally a sedate player, who judges well deliveries outside the off stump, Dravid suddenly played tentatively to give England the first wicket of the morning.Flintoff used the conditions superbly to trouble the Indian batsmen sans Sachin, who was playing with his customary calm and elan.
Skipper Saurav Ganguly continued his poor form and was out for a duck swishing outside the off stump to give Hoggard his second wicket.Virender Sehwag was doggedly holding on at the other end with some streaky shots falling just short of the slip cordon. The match began 42 minutes late due to the incessant drizzle in the morning.
With dark clouds hovering during the whole session, the match began under floodlights. The anticipation for the crowd would be the century from Sachin Tendulkar. A lot now depends on the "Little Master" to pull India out of the spot in which they find themselves in.