11:25am Wednesday 5th December 2012
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Even India's back-to-form greatest batsman Sachin Tendulkar was unable to stop England grinding out an advantageous position on day one of the third Test at Eden Gardens.
Veteran Tendulkar (76) remains without a Test century in his last 29 innings dating back to early 2011 - but he and opener Gautam Gambhir (60) did manage to salvage a stumps total of 273 for seven.
On a pitch already offering some uneven bounce to the spinners, and some carry and swing for the seamers with the new and old ball, England could easily have been more significantly-rewarded for their disciplined and determined efforts after Alastair Cook lost his third successive toss of the series.
James Anderson (three for 68) thought he had Yuvraj Singh lbw for nought, but could not convince umpire Rod Tucker ball had hit pad in line, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni was within inches of holing out at midwicket off Graeme Swann first ball. Instead, numbers six and seven each went on to frustrate England in this pivotal match of a four-Test series level at 1-1.
Cook's opposite number Dhoni had predicted a modicum of help for the pace bowlers in the first hour, and so it proved for Anderson and Steven Finn, but it came to nothing as Gambhir and Virender Sehwag approached a 50 stand - until their running between the wickets failed them.
Sehwag clipped the first ball of the 11th over to midwicket but Samit Patel saved the boundary with a diving stop, and Finn's race from mid-on in support paid off handsomely when he threw in over the stumps to comfortably run out Sehwag after he was sent back for a third.
Monty Panesar's first success came in more conventional, indeed classical, fashion. He had worked hard to draw Cheteshwar Pujara forward several times, and then surprised him on the back foot with an arm ball which snaked through the defence to hit middle-stump.
Gambhir was first to go in the afternoon, laying back to cut after losing the strike against Panesar and edging a sharp chance to slip which Jonathan Trott just about clung on to. And Anderson got a deserved breakthrough when Virat Kohli edged low to Swann at second slip.
Tendulkar began to live up to his billing, increasingly fluent in a 155-ball innings but ended in anti-climax when he followed some Anderson outswing and was well-caught behind by Matt Prior, diving low to his right. England then had an obvious chance to run out Ravichandran Ashwin for just a single only for Finn to fumble at mid-on.
Anderson, however, ensured it was unarguably England's day when he broke another handy stand by getting through Ashwin's defences with the new ball in the penultimate over.
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