Leeds: Harbhajan Singh took two wickets in two balls on his way to three for 39 as India eased into a commanding position against England at Headingley on Saturday.
At stumps on the third day of the third Test, England was 264 for nine in reply to India's mammoth 628 for eight declared - the tourists' highest score against its opponents and largest abroad. That left England 364 behind overall and still 165 short of the follow-on target of 429. Only Alec Stewart, who was unbeaten on 71 off 110 balls with 10 fours, and had been dropped first ball, and Michael Vaughan, with 61, offered meaningful resistance. Last man Matthew Hoggard was nought not out at stumps. Off spinner Harbhajan struck first when he had John Crawley (13) taken round the corner by Venkatsai Laxman. And next ball Andrew Flintoff fell lbw, the all-rounder playing no shot. Harbhajan thought he had another wicket when Stewart (14) pushed forward and appeared to be caught at silly mid-off. But South Africa umpire David Orchard turned down the appeal. However, wickets continued to fall, Stewart's Surrey team-mate Alex Tudor (one) steering medium-pacer Ajit Agarkar straight to Virender Sehwag at third slip. But in left-arm spinner Ashley Giles, Stewart found a resolute partner. And Giles was also willing to attack, hoisting Harbhajan for a leg-side six. He had helped Stewart add 70 for the eighth wicket when he fell lbw to leg spinner Anil Kumble for 25, his runs coming in just over an hour off 53 balls, including three fours. Kumble was the workhorse of the attack, taking two for 87 from 31 overs. Andrew Caddick (one) was then bowled by Harbhajan to leave England teetering at 258 for nine. England had started the final session on 135 for three, a deficit of 493, with captain Nasser Hussain 20 not out and John Crawley yet to get off the mark. But five runs later England lost Hussain, who was lbw for 25 to left-arm quick Zaheer Khan. Next ball Zaheer should have dismissed Stewart for a duck but Sanjay Bangar at third slip spilt the ankle-high chance. England, 61 without loss at lunch, lost its first wicket six runs later.
Robert Key, in his second Test, had made a 76-ball 30 when, pushing at a ball angled across him by Zaheer, he was caught by Laxman at second slip. Kumble then had left-hander Mark Butcher (16) plumb lbw. Vaughan, looking for a third successive Test hundred after his 115 in England's victory at Lord's and career-best 197 in the drawn second match at Trent Bridge, had a lucky break when, on 61, he edged Agarkar only to see keeper Parthiv Patel drop the catch and second slip Laxman fail to hold the rebound. But local hero Vaughan failed to cash in on his reprieve, next ball steering Agarkar straight to cover where Sehwag made no mistake.
The Yorkshire opener had faced 116 balls and hit nine fours. Earlier, India had resumed its first innings on 584 for four. The Indians scored a further 44 runs in seven overs before captain Saurav Ganguly declared following a shoddy England display that saw four catches dropped in addition to the two put down on Friday. India's total surpassed the 606 for nine declared it made against England at The Oval in 1990. Sachin Tendulkar started the day 185 not out but fell seven short of a double century when Caddick had him lbw. His 30th Test hundred left him just four behind compatriot Sunil Gavaskar's world record of 34 and saw him overtake ex-England batsman David Gower's mark of 8,231 runs as he moved into seventh place in the all-time list of Test run-scorers. India has not won a Test series outside the sub-continent since 1986. But it is now well-placed to level this campaign ahead of next month's fourth and final Test.