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Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Saturday, 20 December 2008

Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in India

Graeme Swann celebrates a wicket in Mohali
Swann dismissed Gambhir, Dravid and Tendulkar - and it doesn't come much better than that

England will feel the situation might have been a lot worse.

If they had not taken India's last nine wickets for 133 runs after lunch, they might have been facing a first innings score of 550, or more and their chances of saving this Test have now increased.

India needed to press on in order to reach an unassailable score, but thanks to some canny spin bowling from Graeme Swann and a tremendous burst from Andrew Flintoff - who touched 92 mph in the course of his afternoon spell - the home side were thwarted.

Indeed, Flintoff now looks like a bowler who has no fitness worries at all, and after the saga of his injured ankle, that is good news indeed.

Swann dismissed Gambhir, Dravid and Tendulkar - and it doesn't come much better than that.

Tossing the ball up, he deceived the first two for 179 and 136 respectively after which a curiously lacklustre Tendulkar was lbw for 11 trying to paddle-sweep.

Swann thoroughly deserved his wickets and, tactically, his approach was both bold and correct. At Chennai, Swann and Panesar had fielders round the bat and out on the boundary, but this time the field was specifically set to create pressure.

For much of the day, no one was on the boundary at all, and while this led to Swann being hit for three sixes, the batsmen had to take more of a chance.

Interestingly, Swann bowled almost double the overs of Panesar, fuelling conjecture about which of the two England might choose for their next Test in Jamaica in February.


Panesar bowled only three overs - in two spells - before tea but at least he nipped in with a couple of wickets at the end.

It is worth noting, however, that he conceded 11 fours in his 23 overs while Swann was hit for just nine from his 45.

The outcome of the game will almost certainly depend on how England fare in their first innings. The closer they get to India's 453, the better chance they have of forcing a creditable draw, but the heat will be on them on the third day.

The pitch offered rather more to the seam bowlers on the second day than on the first, and the ball is definitely spinning now and that means every one of India's bowlers will be a threat.

Meanwhile, there must be some concern in the England camp that captain Kevin Pietersen still looks to be in some discomfort from his fractured rib.

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see also
India duo leave England trailing
20 Dec 08 |  England
Swann delighted with wicket haul
20 Dec 08 |  England
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket

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