Mohali: Harbhajan Singh wrecked England with a five-wicket haul to puthosts India in command after the opening day of the first Test in Mohali on Monday.
The young off spinner grabbed five wickets for six runs as England lostits last eight batsman for 66 to be shot out for 238 in the post-tea session at the Mohali Stadium.
India made 24 for one in reply by stumps, losing Shiv Das, who was bowled by Mark Butcher for two offering no stroke to a ball that dippedin sharply. Wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta, opening the batting again as hehad done on the recent South African tour, was unbeaten on 19.Nightwatchman Anil Kumble was on one.
England looked set to scoff at India's decision to field first on agreenish wicket when half-centuries from Marcus Trescothick and skipper Nasser Hussain lifted the visitors score to 172 for two. Hussain played a captain's knock of 85 and Trescothick hit 66 during a second wicket stand of 125 after Mark Butcher had fallen to the fourth ball of the day.But England's inexperienced batsmen showed their vulnerability against high-quality spin in a dramatic final session in which they lost six wickets for 14 runs.
Harbhajan, nicknamed the turbanator a play of words on his headgear after taking 32 wickets against world champions Australia earlier thisyear, began England's destruction in the third over after tea.
The 21-year-old had Mark Ramprakash snapped up at silly point by ShivDas for 17 and then forced Andrew Flintoff (18) to mistime a drive toAnil Kumble at point.
In his next over, Harbhajan trapped debutant James Foster lbw and Kumble removed Craig White to reduce England from 224 for four to 229 for eight.Harbhajan claimed Richard Dawson and Matthew Hoggard off successive deliveries to terminate the innings and leave Venkat Sai Laxman with four catches.There was no indication of the unexpected collapse after England had survived the first-over dismissal of Mark Butcher to post 107 for one by lunch.England smashed 21 boundaries in the morning session, seven of them by Trescothick against the wayward Kumble.
Tinu Yohannan, one of the threedebutant seamers fielded by the hosts, struck with his fourth deliverywhen he forced Butcher to edge a waist-high catch to Laxman at second slip.The other two newcomers, Iqbal Siddiqui and Sanjay Bangar, however, failed to contain the runs once the early morning moisture in the wicket evaporated.
India hit back after lunch by removing Trescothick, Graham Thorpe andHussain in quick time. Trescothick was bowled by Yohannan offering no stroke. Left-handed Thorpe made 23 when he fell to Siddiqui, hanging his bat out to an outswinger to give Laxman his second catch at second slip. Thecrucial blow came shortly before tea when Hussain was snapped up at silly point by Laxman off Kumble for 85.The England captain looked in supreme touch with 13 boundaries and a six, before Kumble denied him a 10th Test century.