Leeds: India pair Sanjay Bangar and Rahul Dravid wrested the initiative from England's bowlers on the first day of the third Test here at Headingley on Thursday.
At tea India was 132 for one off 59 overs with Bangar, in his first Test of the series, and Dravid both 51 not out - an unbroken stand of 117. India had started the session on 58 for one with Bangar 22 not out and Dravid unbeaten on 17. Runs were still coming slowly but both batsmen looked increasingly assured, especially when England's attack was misdirected. Dravid took advantage turning both Andrew Flintoff and Andrew Caddick, back in the team following a side strain, off his legs for four.
Then a single into the covers off the accurate Alex Tudor, recalled after shin splints, took Dravid to 30 and meant that, in his 63rd match, he had become the seventh Indian to score 5,000 Test runs. But England did see numerous deliveries beat the bat, Tudor's 14 overs costing just 17 runs and including eight maidens. However, Bangar and Dravid pressed on, their hundred partnership coming off 273 balls. But Dravid, on 40, appeared fortunate to survive an lbw appeal from England quick Matthew Hoggard with replays suggesting Sri Lankan umpire Asoka de Silva may have erred.
England eventually varied its previously all seam attack with the introduction of left-arm spinner Ashley Giles in the 50th over. Giles, omitted from the side that drew the second Test at Trent Bridge, did not succeed where speed had failed, Dravid on-driving him for a textbook boundary. Bangar then brought up a perservering fifty with a quick single off Tudor, although had Michael Vaughan's throw from the covers hit the stumps at the bowler's end he would have been run out by a distance.
Nevertheless Bangar had more than justified his selection ahead of dropped opener Wasim Jaffer, his half-century coming from 166 balls including seven fours, in an innings that had then lasted 229 minutes. The more experienced Dravid then reached his fifty with a single off Giles, having faced 153 balls including six fours. Earlier India captain Saurav Ganguly won the toss and, despite overcast skies favouring seam bowling, elected to bat first.
But it was not long before his side lost their first wicket. In the seventh over, Virender Sehwag drove loosely at a Hoggard outswinger and Flintoff, at second slip, took a sharp catch going to his left to leave India 15 for one. Sehwag, who scored a century at Trent Bridge, had managed just seven this time around having faced 23 balls.