Nagpur, Dec 14: From Mumbai to Kolkata to Nagpur, it was familiar tale of batting woes for Team India. Yet again, batsmen imploded to hand the advantage to England in the fourth Test here on Friday. At stumps on second day, India were reeling at 87/4 in 41 overs in reply to England's 330.
Agreed that the pitch was not an easy one for batting but if the hosts' batsmen had applied themselves and stayed at the wicket, the runs could have been accumulated as demonstrated by the tourists.
India were off to a disastrous start with Virender Sehwag cleaned up by James Anderson for a duck in the first over. Anderson returned for his second spell later in the day to castle Sachin Tendulkar (2) and have Gautam Gambhir (37) caught behind to leave India struggling. Anderson got Tendulkar out for the 9th time in Tests, the most by a bowler. The right-arm paceman ended with 3/24 in 9 overs.
Apart from Gambhir's patience in the middle, it was Cheteshwar Pujara who was looking settled for his 26 before umpire Rod Tucker cut short his stint with a shocking verdict. A ball hitting his elbow and Ian Bell taking the "catch" was not spotted by Tucker and the Australian gifted an early Christmas present to Graeme Swann. Pujara showed his disappointment as he walked off the ground.
Anderson came up with a brilliant second spell of swing bowling where his figures read 4-1-3-2. He reverse swung the ball to scalp Tendulkar and Gambhir. Swann was also exception in his 7 overs where he bowled 3 maidens and conceded just 9 runs.
The left-handed Gambhir looked most impressive among Indian batsmen but could not carry on to score big. He was dismissed while chasing a delivery sliding across him.
From 71/4, captain MS Dhoni (8 not out), promoting himself to number six, along with Virat Kohli (11 not out) survived till the end and have a battle on their hands tomorrow. India need to win this Test to save the series. At the moment, it is looking tough but is not impossible.
At tea, India 32/1
India were 32 for the loss of Sehwag at tea after bowling England out for 330 in 145.5 overs on the second day. Sehwag was out for a duck in the first over. Gambhir and Pujara are at the crease.
Gambhir completed 4,000 Test runs during his knock today. He is India's second left-hander after Sourav Ganguly to cross that mark. The opener reached to 4,000 with a boundary off Graeme Swann. He was on 16 when he touched 4,000-run milestone.
Earlier, Piyush Chawla was the most successful bowler for India with four wickets for 69 runs in 21.5 overs. Debutant Joe Root made an impressive 73 while Graeme Swann also hit a half century as England added 131 runs today after resuming from 199/5.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior too contributed a half century in England's total. England's lower order frustrated Indian bowlers with useful contributions.
On a slow and low pitch which has made life difficult for run-scoring, England have a good total on the board. It is upto the Indian batsmen to play well.
The series is 2-1 in favour of England. A draw for the visitors is enough for series win.