Gambhir, Dravid sparkle before England rally

India batsmen Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid compiled a record 314-run partnership before spinner Graeme Swann led an England fightback in the second Test on Saturday.

Opener Gambhir top-scored with 179 and Dravid stroked 136 for his 26th Test hundred. The pair recorded India’s highest second-wicket partnership against England on day two of the final Test.

India were 453 all out late in the evening following a slump after lunch in which the last nine wickets fall for 133 runs.

England openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook walked out to face nine remaining overs, but play was called off due to bad light.

Swann, playing in his second Test, triggered the slump with three wickets for 10 runs after removing both the set batsmen to finish with 3-122.

All-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who bowled superbly in tandem with Swann in the afternoon, claimed 3-54 as India’s lower-order batsmen looked for quick runs in the end.

However, the hosts, who won the first Test by six wickets, seemed to hold the edge as the dry Mohali pitch was affording help to both seamers and spinners.

Regaining form
Dravid shook off his poor form, hitting 19 fours in his 328-ball innings under pressure after scoring three and four in the first Test and averaging bout 17 in the preceding 2-0 home series win over Australia.

Left-hander Gambhir, who had scored his third century in four Tests overnight, underlined his superb form after becoming the fourth Indian batsman to complete 1 000 Test runs in 2008.

Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Vangipurappu Laxman are the others to reach the milestone. Gambhir struck 25 fours and a six, facing 348 balls in an innings spanning nearly eight hours.

Dravid and Gambhir added 123 runs in the extended morning session after play began 30 minutes early to offset the early finish on the first day due to poor light.

Swann, who took two wickets in his first over on Test debut in Chennai, struck in the fifth over after lunch when he forced left-hander Gambhir to loop a catch to James Anderson at point.

Dravid fell nine runs later when he miscued a flighted delivery to mid-on before Swann foxed Tendulkar (11) with a straight delivery as he attempted a sweep shot.

Flintoff then trapped Vangipurappu Laxman for a duck after the batsman had gone 24 deliveries without scoring, but was unlucky when Yuvraj Singh was dropped by Cook on eight soon after.

Yuvraj (27), skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (29), Harbhajan Singh (24) and Amit Mishra (23) chipped in with runs down the order.—Reuters


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