England triumphed over India in the third test in Kolkata, with their batsmen proving to be just too powerful for the Indians. A dominating England display saw the tourists take a 2-1 lead into the fourth and final test of the series. England beat India by 7 wickets in Kolkata after a phenomenal batting performance from captain Alistair Cook.
Cook has now scored a century on each of his five test match appearances as England captain and holds the record for test match centuries scored by an English batsman with 23 hundreds to his name, surpassing Geoff Boycott, Colin Chowdrey and Wally Hammond, who all have 22. Cook also became the youngest batsman to score 7,000 test match runs, at the age of 27, he has a long way to go to reach Tendulkar’s world record of 51 test match centuries but he certainly has a chance of reaching that milestone.
England continued their form from the second test and just edged the first day thanks to a superb bowling performance from James Anderson. The pitches have not really suited the fast bowlers so far in the series and the overs have been dominated by spin, but Anderson’s three wickets on day one of the third test really put pressure on the Indian batsmen and helped to set England up with a commanding position.
Half centuries from Sachin Tendulkar (76) and Gautam Gambhir (60) were the standout performances in the Indian innings as at times India looked as if they may be getting on top, only for England to take each wicket at a vital time. India finished the day 268-7, a score which looked poor, considering Dhoni had won the toss and chosen to bat on a pitch that wasn’t expected to turn until at least day three.
Panesar again looked worth his place in the team taking another two wickets on day one and his exclusion from the first test has left the barmy army somewhat mythed as he continues to impress. A missed run out opportunity from Steven Finn late on in the day will not be one to be remembered but fortunately it did not have any major consequences for England.
England bowled India out early in the day for 316 with the home side adding almost 50 runs to their overnight score, mostly thanks to a half century from captain Dhoni. England took total control of the test on day 2 thanks to a magnificent opening partnership between Alastair Cook and Nick Compton (57) leaving England only 100 runs behind with 9 wickets remaining in the first innings.
Cook’s fine form continued as he made his third century of the series, whilst Compton looked ever more comfortable down the other end, only for the Somerset opening batsmen to fall in the last session of the day, but Trott and Cook saw out the remaining overs to leave England in a convincing position by the end of the day, at 216-1 England only trailed by 100 runs.
Cook continued in a similar fashion on day 3, scoring freely and rarely looking in any trouble at all but a bizarre dismal meant that England’s inform batsman fell just 10 runs short of his double century. Cook (190) was run out for the first time in his first-class career when he appeared to attempt to avoid the ball rather than ensuring that he made his ground. Jonathan Trott (87), Kevin Pietersen (54) and Matt Prior (41) all contributed to a superb first innings batting performance before England were eventually dismissed for in excess of 500 runs.
England’s first innings total of 523 completely eclipsed India’s effort of 316 and provided the tourists with a lead of over 200 which meant that India could only really look to salvage a draw from the game. The home side started strongly with Gambhir and Virender Sehwag putting on 86 for the first wicket but when the next seven wickets fell for only 73 runs the Indians were condemned to defeat. A fighting 91 not out from Ravichandran Ashwin meant that England would have to bat again but needed less than 50 runs to take a series lead.
At 8-3 England looked as if they may have been about to throw away such a commanding position but Ian Bell and Nick Compton combined to see England through. Although England lost three quick wickets in the chase, the target was never out of sight, with a fantastically quick 28, at a run a ball, from Ian Bell ensuring that England reached their target of 41 with ease. The seven wicket win will fill the English players full of confidence as they head into the final test, hoping to achieve their first series win in India for almost 30 years.
India looked poor in the second and third tests; perhaps it was just a woeful performance from England which handed the Indians their win in the first test rather than a dominant Indian performance. Or maybe the Indians took too much confidence from their opening victory and thought that the series was going to be a walk in the park, as England have consistently struggled on subcontinent pitches in recent years.
A win or draw in the final test will give the tourists a series win and will see England pile the pressure on South Africa as England hope to regain their number one spot in the world test rankings.