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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2007, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Third Test, day three as it happened
THIRD NPOWER TEST, The Oval (day three):
India 664 v England 326-9 (close)

England closed day three of the final Test at The Oval at 326-9, 139 runs short of the follow-on target.

Alastair Cook was dropped twice in reaching his sixth Test fifty but fell to Anil Kumble, who ousted Michael Vaughan in the last over before lunch.

Kevin Pietersen (41) played responsibly in a stand of 78 with Paul Collingwood, who made a workmanlike 62.

Collingwood added 86 with Ian Bell, who top-scored with 63, but both fell within five overs of each other.

LATEST ACTION AS IT HAPPENS (ALL TIMES BST)

By Ben Dirs

606: DEBATE

e-mail tms@bbc.co.uk (with 'For Ben Dirs' in the subject) or use 606

ENGLAND INNINGS

CLOSE

1830 - Eng 326-9 Vaughan is horsing his way through what looks like a Ginsters slice, but what is probably a multi-vitamin energy baguette, and Monty blocks out the final over from Kumble. Rarely have I watched a more dispiriting day of cricket. I'll see you both tomorrow.

1826 - Eng 326-9 Tremlett looks pretty handy off his legs, and he picks up another couple with a clip to mid-wicket off Singh. Bit of dog from Singh, fielding his own bowling and slinging the ball at Tremlett's feet. One more over this evening and we can all have a beer...APART FROM ME BECAUSE I'M STILL ON THESE @&$@ ANTIBIOTICS!

1820 - Eng 324-9 John, Bury, I'm not sure the England cricket team has possessed a stiff upper lip since the great Peter May side of the 1950s. Let's face facts, we've rarely been much better than medicore since then. Lovely stroke from Tremmers, flicking Santh through mid-wicket for four and the Hampshire colossus follows up with another chip through square-leg for another boundary. Three more for Tremlett from the final ball of the over with a steer through backward-point.

1817 - Eng 313-9 Panesar plays and misses at a couple of deliveries from Zaheer and I'm told if another wicket falls in the next couple of minutes, England will not bat again tonight.

1813 - Eng 313-9 Right, I'm back. I trust young Lyon behaved himself and didn't upset too many people while I was away. As I said to him when I left, I couldn't give a monkey's what you do, but I will make sure the bosses know it was you. It's dog eat dog on the BBC website cricket desk. Tremlett gets two for a thick inside edge.

"Whatever happened to the great English fighting spirit? Stiff upper lip and all that? Players like Closey and Steele would have put up a better fight than any of this shower."
John, Bury, in the TMS inbox

1810 - Eng 311-9 Chris Tremlett gets off the mark with a clip for a couple off his hips before a single off the last to end the over. Some debate around on TMS and what not about whether India should bat again or not, but it's a no-brainer if you ask me. Don't enforce the follow on, thereby guaranteeing victory in the series, and put Sachin in to open in the hope he can get that much sought-after century in England. Lovely stuff.

1806 - Eng 308-9 Monty 'the People's Champion' Panesar brings some of the crowd to life with a few bob and weaves against Santh, followed by an all-too keen adjustment of his box. What do they say, any more than two shakes...? A Santh no-ball clips Panesar's pads and runs away for a couple and those are the first runs in over 20 minutes. It's edge of the seat stuff it really is.

"Bring back Dirs. Sam, you are clearly a jinx. It's the bad vibes coming off you after the Spurs game isn't it?"
Sarah, Bucks in the TMS inbox

Wicket falls
1800 - WICKET: Prior c Tendulkar b Santh 0 (Eng 305-9)
Oh deary deary me. Matt Prior flails at a wide one and the Sussex man's nightmare match continues as he edges straight to Sach at slip to go for nought. Oops.

1758 - Eng 305-8 A few of your emails regarding smirting have left me with a rather unseemly image of Dirsy dribbling over a pretty young BBC type over his cigarette at the moment, trying to impress her with stories of his e-commentary genius and dislike for small round vegetables. Gawd help her. Chris Tremlett, in keeping with the rip-roaring action so far today at The Oval that has sent 97.36% (approximately speaking) of the crowd to sleep, leaves well alone and it's another maiden.

"Don't worry about your dislike for pulses, Ben, you're unlikely to find one at the Oval..."
Nemo from Strasbourg in the TMS inbox

1754 - Eng 305-8 I don't know - Dirsy goes off for a tab or two and England's batsmen start going down like flies. I won't lie to you - I've been giving this about as much attention today as I would a Christmas special omnibus edition of Big Brother. What a bunch of pap that is. Not dissimilar in that regard to this, in fact. Matt Prior, the very picture of a man in desperate need of a score, pushes tentatively at a couple of swinging Santh deliveries without making contact and it's a maiden.

Wicket falls
1748 - WICKET: Sidebottom c and b Zaheer (Eng 305-8)
Ryan Sidebottom, who has come out thinking he's Sir Vivian Richards in his pomp, throws his arms at a bumper without success and then repeats the shot next ball, succeeding only in top-edging it straight up and back at Zaheer. Two in the over for the paceman and England are limping towards a huge first-innings deficit.

Wicket falls
1743 - WICKET: Bell c Dhoni b Zaheer 63 (Eng 303-7)
That's rubbish from Bell, there is no other way to describe it. The Warwickshire man flails at a wide one and Dhoni snaffles a straight-forward catch behind the timbers. Once more Bell is unable to convert a promising start into a big score and England are disappearing fast.

1742 - Eng 303-6 Bell eases Santh through the covers for a few to give Prior on strike. Santh digs in a bumper and Prior sways out of line. The booze has started to talk at The Oval and I hear we'll have a 6.30 finish again. Sam Lyon, still reeling from the revelation that I am unable to eat small, round vegetables, is going to take over for 20 minutes or so. 1736 - Eng 300-6 That's a leg-bye and that's England's 300, which brings Prior onto strike. What an important innings this is for Prior, his big chance to prove he can make up for his wicket-keeping frailties with the willow. He plays out the last three balls of the over with little fuss.

"Talking of 'Watchdog', my mate Richard is on 'The Weakest Link' tomorrow! Wish him luck!"
Sam, Argosy Toys (Southend On Sea), A family run Toy Shop since 1947, in the TMS inbox

1732 - Eng 299-6 Santh strays onto Bell's legs and is whipped through square-leg for four. We are now so bored on the cricket desk that we are discussing the merits of manual and electric razors. I had to confess that I have never used an electric razor which was met with the sort of reaction I get when I tell people I have never knowingly eaten peas, beans or sweetcorn. I felt a bit sick just writing that...

1725 - Eng 293-6 Bell leans into a Zaheer delivery and the ball crashes into the deep cover fence. Bell reaches for one and cue-ends the ball back to Zaheer. Unlike Santh, Zaheer is a genuinely intimidating presence in the middle, and he gives Bell some daggers at the end of his follow-through. Bell picks up one more with a nibble to long-leg.

1721 - WICKET: Collingwood lbw b Santh 62 (Eng 288-6)
The spiky Santh will have first go with the new cherry and things fall apart for England. Collingwood can consider himself a little unlucky, that ball from Santh looked as if it may have been missing leg-stump. Hawkeye says it was clipping, but Collingwood was in no hurry to make his exit. I wouldn't say umpire Howell has made another howler, but that wasn't the most charitable of decisions.

"Another Gillette razor, another unnecessary blade. What are they up to now? The Mach 47?"
Jack, Birmingham, in the TMS inbox

That's 50
1714 - Eng 288-6 Soft hands from Bell and the ball flies through the slips for four. And Bell goes macho, rat-a-tatting Kumble over the top one bounce for four. Poor old Bell half-raised his bat there, he thought it was a maximum. But that's his 13th Test fifty from the next ball, the Warwickshire man clipping Kumble to mid-wicket for a single. New ball due and new ball taken.

1708 - Eng 277-5 Here's VVS Laxman! So rare is this, Graham Thorpe on TMS thought the 12th man was going to have a twirl. His second ball, a half-bunger on leg-stump, is whipped over mid-wicket for four by Belly. But Bell almost perishes two balls later, dragging from outside off-stump and Karthik, anticipating the shot, getting a hand to it. The last time Laxman bowled in a Test was 50 matches ago.

1705 - Eng 272-5 Bell is foxed by another Kumble no-ball, but he got a decent stride in. Another vociferous appeal next ball, but this time umpire Bucknor decides it was sliding down leg. Bell gets off strike, tucking one to square-leg. Colly bags one with a push to mid-off before Bell gets a thick inside edge for a single of his own. Below is a picture of Yoffy, perhaps the most sinister children's presenter of all time. Apart from Kris Akabussi.

"I spat into the wind during an under 14's school match, it caught the wind and flew back past me and into the ref's face. He thought I did it on purpose and sent me off. If it was deliberate I would have gratefully accepted the red card as a prize for my unfathomably good spitting skills. However, it wasn't, and I am still bitter and resentful to this day."
Dave, Exeter, in the TMS inbox

1659 - Eng 268-5 Colly carves Ganguly away for a couple, but Ganguly keeps up a good, nagging line and length. Andy (see below), a friend of my borther once rang the doorbell as my dad was leaving the shower and walking through the kitchen. Instead of covering himself up, my dad marched straight to the front door and opened it, whereupon my brother's friend uttered the immortal line: "Donny Dirs - au naturel". I think he could build a good case that his experience was more unpleasant than yours.

"It's a warm here in North Wales. An hirsute and topless builder on scaffolding outside my office window just dribbled ice-cream down himself. He then scooped it off his left nipple and ate it. One of the most unpleasant things I've ever seen."
Andy, North Wales, in the TMS inbox

1656 - Eng 266-5 Bell going along at a decent rate now, and he picks up four more with a paddle round the corner. The sun is out again at The Oval, and the outlook is slightly sunnier for England. I see Gillette have a new razor out - The Stealth. Has there every been a more manly-sounding razor?

1650 - Eng 261-5 Bell drops his hands on a Singh delivery and the ball races away for four - that's the 50 partnership. Belly reaches for a wide one and misses with a wild and windy woosh, but bags two more with a clip to mid-wcket. Four more for the Warwickshire man, however, Singh drifting onto his pads and Bell fiddling him to the fine-leg fence.

"'Fingerbobs'? Apparently, it even depressed the bloke who played Yoffy, he destroyed the puppets at the end of the series, before the camera had even stopped rolling..."
John C in the TMS inbox

1645 - Eng 251-5 Kumble has been switched to the Pavilion End and Collingwood uses his feet well to him and plays that trademark chip for four to the long-on fence. Colly brings up the 250 with a nurdled single. England may be backed into a corner, but they're still slugging.

1643 - Eng 245-5 A change of pace for England, Singh is into the attack. Bit straight to Collingwood and he's flipped to long-on for one.

"Surely the most depressing programme is 'Watchdog'?"
Sam Robinson in the TMS inbox

1639 - Eng 244-5 Bell plays an ugly drag across the line before playing an effortless pull to the mid-wicket boundary. If this pair are still standing at stumps, England may have a hope. I'm veering wildly between crazed optimisim and dark, dark pessimisim at the moment.

That's 50
1635 - Eng 240-5 Four from Collingwood, pouncing on a rare short one from Kumble and carving him through the off-side. That's his sixth Test fifty, and it was so grissly and tough, even your local kebab house would have knocked it back.

1632 - Eng 236-5 Bell skips down the pitch and lofts Tendulkar over mid-off for four, albeit not very convincingly. But that's a more authentic stroke, going airborne again but this time the ball locating the middle of the bat.

1628 - Eng 225-5 Bell tries to sweep Kumble and the ball gets jammed in his visor. Two for Bell, tucking Kumble round the corner, before he misreads a googly and is lucky not to be adjudged leg before.

1625 - Eng 225-5 Colly stays back and carves Tendulkar through the covers for two. Sorry, got a bit behind there because we were reminiscing about 'spitting' here in the office. Do you remember trying to spit while doing the cross country at school, and the wind sending it back into your face and all over your athletics vest? And you'd be so done in, you wouldn't even have the energy to wipe it off and you'd cross the line coated in your own phlegm? Where's the dignity in that? My colleague says that the first person he ever saw do that thing where people clear out their nostrils using their hand was Eric Gates of Ipswich Town. Happy days.

1621 - Eng 223-5 Bell stays back to Kumble - dangerous game. Kumble slips in the googly, Bell stays back and is very nearly cleaned up. Maiden over.

"Just an observation or two...50 years ago, I played cricket for Walmer second XI, down in Kent. We won a few games, we lost a few, but whatever the result, we enjoyed a few pints with the opposition in the local after the game. For that is what it was - a game, to be enjoyed by all. But Test cricket is not a game - it is a war. Our players in the English team can 'play' the game, but they appear to lack what is required to win - they are, alas, mostly players, not warriors. The killer instinct is not there. Now in Ozzy land...Need I say more?"
Mike, 70-years-old, and looking for his pads again, in the TMS inbox

1619 - Eng 223-5 That's the first boundary off Tendulkar, using his feet and easing him through the covers. If you're reading or watching this, just think yourself lucky you're not Benjamin McCarthy of Blackburn Rovers, the poor tyke has just swallowed his tongue.

"Oh, I'm here alright Ben, but just comatose. I have now set up the ironing board in front of the telly and computer, and am starting to find the creases in my shirtsleeves strangely compelling."
Carole, Maidenhead, in the TMS inbox

1616 - Eng 217-5 Kumble tries a quicker one and Colly dabs him round the corner for a couple. What is the most depressing television programme ever made? I'm plumping for Last Of The Summer Wine or Ivor the Engine. One more for Collingwood, another nurdle to leg.

1610 - Eng 214-5 Colly picks up one with a nudge to long-on. Some outrageous turn from Tendulkar, fizzing the ball away from the driving Bell. At first sight it looked as if the batsman had nicked it. A beamer! Calm down Sachin! That actually just slipped out of Tendulkar's hand and Colly smashed it into Karthik's shoulder at short-leg. Karthik brushes himself down and there's just one for the shot.

"Re: Sarah from Bucks. Sarah, lunch with the Bollywood Babe. Meet me at 1230 at Waterloo. I'll be the one with the tux and the rose."
Sunjay in the TMS inbox

1607 - Eng 211-5 Hello? Hello? IS THERE ANYBODY THERE? There's Prior reclining on the balcony, as if he's contemplating an evening of debauchery in Faliraki rather than a session of torture at the hands of Kumble. Maiden over from Kumble.

1602 - Eng 211-5 Players are back out after tea and it's Tendulkar to continue with his floaty leg-breaks. Bell fiddles him round the corner for one.

"This is rather depressing, I'm still hoping that Bell and Colly will get us to a somewhat respectable target though. This does, however, completely scuppers my plans to spend a nice Monday in the sun at The Oval. I'm hoping there will still be play but what am I supposed to do with my day off now?"
Sarah, Bucks, in the TMS inbox

1557: I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour, but heaven knows I'm miserable now. Two lovers entwined pass me by, And heaven knows I'm miserable now. Shall we all sing sad songs? Or shall we sit upon the carpet and tell sad stories? I've got a sad one. My brother, a big Level 42 fan as a foolish youth, once queued for three hours to get a picture of him with his arm round lead singer and 'best slap bassist in the world' Mark King. When he went to get his pictures developed, he discovered he'd forgotten to turn the flash on. What a wally.

"I'm currently visiting my wife's gran in Yeovil to celebrate her 80th birthday in a poxy village hall. Subsequently, I'm missing my cricket team's tour of the Cotswolds (Badger Wanderers). This has cast some doubt on my commitment to the team. Please can you publish this apology as a way of making it up to the lads. PS. Regarding sun cream comment earlier, my wife hates getting it in the hair more than in the eye."
Steve, Catford, in the TMS inbox

1542 - Eng 210-5 Bell helps Kumble round the corner for a single. Collingwood picks up a couple with a clip to mid-wicket but plays a rancid stroke the last ball before tea, reaching for one and the ball squirting away for four. I've got to be honest with you, that wasn't much fun. I'm off for some smirting. Chris Lowe - smoking, flirting, you do the math...

Wicket falls
1534 - WICKET: Pietersen c Dravid b Tendulkar 41 (Eng 202-5)
I can't believe what I've just seen. Tendulkar is wheeled into the attack before tea. His first ball is a lobbed up hand grenade which Pietersen looks to slap through the covers, but instead edges to Dravid at slip. Tendulkar is held aloft as if he's just won his country a World Cup final and a six-match series against Pakistan. Bell is the new bat and he's off the mark with a squirt to third-man for one. You have to say that's England done for.

"I took up smoking when the ban came in in Ireland. The smoking areas prove fertile ground."
Shane, Cork, in the TMS inbox

1530 - Eng 198-4 Pietersen nurdles Ganguly to leg for one before the bowler pulls out a plum, the ball pitching and leaving a groping Collingwood. This is grimmer than a James Ellroy thriller, but this pair are doing exactly what they have to do.

1528 - Eng 197-4 Collingwood squirts Singh into the covers for a couple and this England partnership will be shutting up shop now for tea.

1522 - Eng 195-4 Pietersen and Collingwood finding a degree of fluency now, and KP whips a Ganguly full-bunger through mid-wicket for four. The sun has had enough of this and has retreated behind some clouds. My old friend and yours' Tom Fordyce texts me to say: "A sleepy mid-afternoon slough has settled over The Oval. There's so little drama in the middle that people are even reaching for the finance sections of the newspapers..." That other old friend of ours Rusty Lee is in again and some poor kid is craning his neck to get a view of the action behind him. It must be like sitting behind one of the Barbapapa family.

1517 - Eng 191-4 Pietersen gets up on hind legs and slaps Singh into the covers for a single. Four for Collingwood, tickling Singh to the fine-leg boundary. The tooth is a lot better, thank you for asking Danielle. I'm on some kick-arse pain-killers and, apparently, the only antibiotics in the country that you can't mix with booze. Best of all, I look less like Sonia from Eastenders.

"Hi Ben - celebrity spot: fat guy from 'Lost' sitting in the crowd. Hope you lot south of the border are enjoying all that warm sunny stuff. Here in Edinburgh it's rodding it down. BBQ cancelled, England heading for defeat - it's enough to give you toothache! At least there's top totty in the guise of KP to keep a girl smiling through it all. PS - How is the biccipeg (as my Dad used to call it) today?"
Danielle, Edinburgh, in the TMS inbox

1513 - Eng 186-4 Colly and Pietersen taking no chances against Ganguly's wobblers. Carole (see below), seeing as 'smirting' involves smokers enjoying themselves, I'm almost certain non-smokers are sure to muscle in at some point.

1506 - Eng 186-4 A FOUR! Pietersen stands tall and swats Singh through mid-wicket before genuflecting and timing Singh through the covers for another. Shot of the day, that was a real doozy. There's the future Mrs Pietersen - I was only joking when I said she looks like a bag of smashed crabs, she's actually an absolute peach.

1502 - Eng 176-4 Ganguly and his dibbly-dobblies into the attack. Far too wide from the former India skipper and Pietersen only has to play at one of them.

1457 - Eng 175-4 That's Pietersen's first runs for 36 minutes, believe it or not, courtsey of a steer into the covers for a couple. That's also the fifty stand from 110 balls. One more for Pietersen and he nicks the strike.

1452 - Eng 172-4 Zaheer bangs one in short and Collingwood thinks about the hook before pulling out of the stroke. Yet another appeal from India - this time they think Colly feathered Zaheer to Dhoni behind the timbers, but umpire Bucknor thinks otherwise.

"Some bored fans just started to get the dreaded Mexican wave going but it was half-hearted and died a death. The atmosphere is flat as a pancake. But at least there's not a football shirt in sight."
Alistair Watkins, BBC Sport at The Oval

1445 - Eng 172-4 Apologies to PA - we have been advised they did not mean to publish the Roy Keane clockwatch until after the match. I have taken down the offending paragraph. That's another maiden from Kumble.

"To maximise my sleep, I used to sleep in my school uniform."
Vineet, Luton, in the TMS inbox

1442 - Eng 172-4 A rare wild one from Zaheer, the ball hooping down leg and running away for four byes. Zaheer drifts onto Colly's pads and is tickled to the fine-leg boundary. Blessed relief for England, players will have a drink.

"'Smirting' must be great - no embarrassing 'how do I get out of here?' if you don't like who you are talking to, just finish your tab, stub it out, and off you go. Brilliant. Are you finding non-smokers coming out with you and trying to muscle in on your 'smirting' activities?"
Carole, not smoking, but eating chilli and lemon crisps, Maidenhead, in the TMS inbox

1438 - Eng 162-4 Collingwood turns Kumble away for a couple before pouncing on a loose delivery, clipping the bowler to the mid-wicket fence for four. The Durham nugget nicks the strike with a flick into the on-side. Anyone got any sad stories?

1434 - Eng 155-4 Zaheer still causing problems for Pietersen, and his final delivery is angled in and strikes the batsman on the pad, but it was going over the top. Barely an over goes by without an appeal from an Indian bowler, this is torturous stuff for England fans.

"If Prior was really a prior, to what religious order would he belong? Clearly not the Trappists - perhaps one of the preaching orders?"
Tony, N Ireland, in the TMS inbox

1431 - Eng 154-4 Yet another appeal for caught behind, Kumble thinking Pietersen had feathered one down the leg-side to wicket-keeper Dhoni. Umpire Howell is having noe of that, and it's possible it flicked the top of Pietersen's pad. Anyone had any luck as a result of 'smirting' since the smoking ban? I engaged in a little bit of 'smirting' at lunch time, although the conversation always seems to centre on how annoying non-smokers can be.

1429 - Eng 153-4 Zaheer thinks he's got Pietersen, and what a jaffa that was. The ball lifted and swung away, KP followed it and very nearly got a nibble. India are all over England like a cheap suit at The Oval, that's another maiden.

1425 - Eng 153-4 One from Kumble's over, a Pietersen single into the covers. Did anyone else used to try to walk to school with their eyes closed to catch up on sleep? Do you reckon I could get away with that today? This is the cricketing equivalent of one of Sting's medieval lute solos.

1416 - Eng 152-4 KP flicks Zaheer to mid-on for a single. Collingwood's a walking wicket at the moment. He lunges forward with hard hands and the ball drops just short of Karthik at forward short-leg. Remarkably, PA are running a 'Roy Keane Clockwatch' on the wires. I'll fire some over in a minute, it'll make this seem like England v Australia at The Oval in 2005.

1413 - Eng 151-4 Santh drifts onto KP's pads and is chipped to long-on for a few. Santh is proving a real handful here. He gets one to rear up at Colly only for the ball to find the leading edge and fall short of the fielder at point. Colly tucks a Santh no-ball round the corner for one. Santh serves up another peach, getting the ball to jag away from Pietersen, but it was another no-ball, his second of the over. Nick (see below), I didn't say the fact that he doesn't like football is odd, I said the fact that he has erected a makeshift barrier between himself and the screen so that he can't even see the screen on which people are playing football is odd.

"So someone who doesn't like and doesn't want to watch football is odd, but people discussing who should have their face slapped is normal? Forgive me, but isn't this a slightly odd way of looking at the world?"
Nick, Edinburgh, in the TMS inbox

1406 - Eng 142-4 Kumble gets one to grip and strike Pietersen on the right thigh and England are merely hanging on at the moment. KP does pick up a run with a fluid drive into the covers and he and Colly share some gallows humour between overs, Pietersen giving Colly a little tap and a wink, like a Sergeant Major talking to one of his men before sending him over the top.

1401 - Eng 141-4 If you were being charitable you'd call that a controlled edge for four from Collingwood. If you were being honest, you'd just call that an edge through the slips for four. Santh getting prodigious swing away from the right-handers, but he suddenly gets one to nip back at Colly, but that was going over the top. Bucknor's 'not outs' have become so laid back, I reckon he'll soon start saying it backwards.

1358 - Eng 137-4 What a curious batsman Pietersen is - a glorious strokemaker, he can also look so ungainly at times. He plays an uppish slap into the covers, but the ball falls short of the two fielders placed for that shot. That's a maiden over.

1352 - Eng 137-4 That's not clever from Pietersen, attempting to pile into lifting delivery from Santh and missing. No footwork whatsoever. He picks up one with an ease into the covers and you get the feeling this is Pietersen's chance to play a truly great match-saving innings. Colly is tucked up by some rib music from Santh, but the batsman manages to fend it just short of wicket-keeper Dhoni.

1348 - Eng 136-4 Bit of lift from Kumble keeps KP honest but Pietersen then unfurls one of those slapped cover-drives of his and the ball runs away for four. He repeats the shot and scampers one, and is hit by the fielder's shy - but despite the predictable histrionics, there's nothing wrong with him.

1343 - Eng 131-4 This could be interesting, Santh against Pietersen. I'd wager there'll be a few words exchanged here. Pietersen flicks him away for a couple before Santh appears to muster some reverse swing, the ball arcing in towards KP's pads. Pietersen, somewhat surprisingly, lets Santh know what a good ball it was. Pietersen steals the strike with a nurdle from the last ball of the over.

"I would LOVE to slap Victoria Beckham. Then I'd slap David Beckham for not realising what a talentless, posturing waste of space he is shacked up with. Also, any estate agent is fair game for a slap."
Carole, Maidenhead, in the TMS inbox

1340 - Eng 128-4 Players are back out and Collingwood is the new batsman at the crease. Kumble goes up for a confident lbw appeal against Colly, but the Durham lad got a good stride in. Full-bunger from Kumble and Coly clips him through mid-wicket for four. "What about The Sherminator? I'd love to see his rosy cheeks vibrating under the force of a well-timed backhander. Also, I think Umpire Howell could take one in the chops, though Ive not see his face yet."
Jay Thind in the TMS inbox

Wicket falls
1301 - WICKET: Vaughan c&b Kumble 11 (Eng 124-4)
That's the England skipper gone, Kumble tossing one up, Vaughan attempting the drive and dollying it back to the bowler. The hosts in disarray and that's lunch. Not much fun this, I'm off to clear my head a bit, haven't really been with it so far.

"Surely South Africa qualify as the most 'Face-Slappable' team? Is there anyone with a face more slappable than Graeme Smith? (apart from his likelihood to slap back, and he's a BIG guy!)."
Ian Parker in the TMS inbox

1259 - Eng 124-3 Santh gets one past Vaughan's rather timid prod - good ball that, pitching and seaming away. Vaughan picks up a single with a back-foot nurdle to mid-wicket and Pietesen bags a couple with a turns off his legs. We'll get one more over before lunch.

1254 - Eng 121-3 Here comes Kevin Pietersen strolling to the crease. A number of people have written in complaining that I jinx him whenever he bats by giving him too much of a build-up. So here goes: booo! Down with Pietersen! What a load of rubbish! You smell of digestives! Your girlfriend looks like a bag of smashed crabs! He's off the mark with a nurdle to leg for one.

Wicket falls
1251 - WICKET: Cook c Singh b Kumble 61 (Eng 119-3)
Cook's luck runs out, the Essex opener looking to work Kumble to mid-wicket, getting a leading edge and Singh snaffling the catch at mid-off.

"Afternoon Benders, afternoon All. Does anyone else think that Graham Thorpe sounds a lot like Jason Donovan?"
Olly in the TMS inbox

1249 - Eng 119-2 Cook plays back to Santh and whips him to mid-wicket for one. And that's old-school Vaughan, the England skipper rocking back, rolling his wrists and sending the ball to the mid-wicket fence.

1243 - Eng 114-2 Cook picks up a single with a punch into the covers before Vaughan breaks the shackles, latching onto a rare loose ball from Kumble and carving it through point for four. Relief for the England skipper, who moves to 6.

1238 - Eng 109-2 A maiden from Santh and Vaughan is very nearly shotless. Has there ever been a more star-studded Oval pavillion? There's Richard Stilgoe, indulging in some R&R before headlining next weekend's V Festival, and there's the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, no doubt exchanging Christian rhyme with his neighbour.

"Other slappable sportsmen: Cesc Fabregas, Lleyton Hewitt, Marco Materazzi, as well as the non-sporting antique guru David Dickinson...why does that protruding jaw irritate so?"
Rob Maldonado in the TMS inbox

1234 - Eng 108-2 Vaughan scores his second run with a flick to mid-wicket. Some extra lift for RP gives Cook a little start before the bowler's radar goes haywire, Singh hooping four byes down leg before sending down five leg-side wides. Cheap runs for England, and they pass 100.

1229 - Eng 98-2 Zaheer drops just short and Cook clips him through point for another four. Strange innings this from Cook - he looks as if he could get out at any time but is going along at a fair lick.

1223 - Eng 94-2 There's Gatts up on the gantry chatting to a very pretty Indian lady. I reckon Gatts would like her with a nice Pinot Grigio, some onion rings and a garlic baguette. Super shot that from Cook, showing Singh the maker's name and the ball racing to the long-off fence - that's Cook's sixth Test fifty, and what a nuggety knock it's been. He repeats the stroke for four more before Singh gets the hump, fizzing the ball back in the general direction of Cook, and he's even humpier next ball when umpire Howell turns down a very respectable lbw shout. The Howeller's not having a good game...

"Surely a list of 'slappable' international cricketers is incomplete without the name of Shaun Pollock?!"
Jim Cameron, Edinburgh, in the TMS inbox

1219 - Eng 85-2 Not clever from Vaughan, having a go at a wicked, heat-seeking Zaheer bumper and very nearly gloving it behind. Big appeal from India, umpire Bucknor having none of it. Zaheer then thinks he's got the England skipper out leg before, but Bucknor, rightly, says that struck him outside the line. A struggle for Vaughan at the moment - 15 balls faced for his solitary run.

1215 - Eng 85-2 Singh drops short and Cook's on it in a flash, carving it through cover-point for four. Good shot that and a sign that he might be slipping into gear. My colleague sitting next to me dislikes football so much, I am watching the Spurs game on his screen and he has fashioned a makeshift barrier so that he doesn't have to see any of it. One of life's genuinely odd men.

1212 - Eng 81-2 A maiden from Zaheer, Vaughan declining to have a nibble outside off-stump. Not sure what's going on there, a couple of lovebirds flicking sun cream at each other in the stand and some has gone in her hair. I find that as long as it doesn't get in her eye, she shouldn't be too bothered.

1208 - Eng 81-2 Vaughan is off the mark with a push into the covers and Cookey bags a couple with a flick to mid-wicket. Cook reaches and nibbles at a wide outswinger from Singh and this is a real examination of England's mettle. Tharale is upset at my assertion that Santh has a "slappable face". I can assure you, Tharale, that this isn't anti-Indian sentiment. Other international cricketers with slappable faces are Andre Nel, Brett Lee, Kamran Akmal and, of course, our very own Kevin Pietersen.

1202 - Eng 78-2 Zaheer is back on and he has an enthusiastic lbw appeal turned down by umpire Bucknor - that was missing Cook's leg-stump. A maiden over from Zaheer and England have retreated to the trenches. This is going to be a long, long day...

1158 - Eng 78-2 Captain Vaughan is the new batsman and England need perhaps his greatest innings if they are to save this one. He gets a brute first up, the ball coming into him and bringing up a puff of dust outside off-stump, and Vaughan prods tentatively at the next. He does, however, survive the over.

Wicket falls
1153 - WICKET: Anderson lbw b Singh 16 (Eng 78-2)
Anderson perishes, Singh getting one to nip back and trap him in front. Umpire Howell takes an age to raise his finger, but that was probably hitting the top of leg. A mass of confusion there, Anderson scurrying down the pitch after the ball hit his pad, and it's possible he would have been run out. Players have a quick drink.

"'Is there a more slappable face than Santh's in international cricket?' Yeah, Matt Prior's."
Zia in the TMS inbox

1150 - Eng 78-1 Full-bunger from Kumble and Cook clips him to the long-off fence. Anderson accidentally steps on Kumble's fingers as the bowler tries to field, but Kumble is OK. Good comeback from Kumble, getting one to fizz past the face of Cook's blade.

1145 - Eng 74-1 Time for a bit of RP Singh, the 21-year-old left-arm seamer, and Anderson plays another crackerjack stroke, an authentic on-drive that races away for four.

1141 - Eng 67-1 Another catch gone down? Cook prods down leg-side and Ganguly can only parry the chance at leg-slip. Not sure if he got any wood on that. But that's better from Cook, Kumble straying onto his pads and the Essex opener flicking him through mid-wicket for four. That's the fifty partnership. Another boundary for Anderson and that's peche de la peche, the Lancashire paceman easing Kumble through the covers. The concensus in the office is that Jimmy looks the more secure batsman at the moment.

"To Jan Rudd - it would be poor form of me to suggest a Chicken Jalfrezi, pilau rice and tarka dahl takeaway from your local sub-continental fast food emporium. Don't forget the poppadoms."
Jenny, Northampton, in the TMS inbox

1138 - Eng 56-1 Controlled edge from Cook and he gets four for it. Santh is going to explode in a minute. Cook picks up one more with a leading edge and Santh strolls down the pitch and flares his nostrils. Is there a more slappable face than Santh's in international cricket? He strikes me as the sort of bloke who would challenge the hardest bloke in the year above at school, get a thorough kicking, and then do it all again the following week. A bumper from Santh and Anderson jerks out of line.

1132 - Eng 51-1 A delay as Karthik straps on some shin pads and Dravid's not mucking about - it's time for Kumble. Anderson blocks out the over but we'll see a fair bit more of Kumble today.

1128 - Eng 51-1 More sketchy runs for Cook, a thick outside edge running past imaginary slip and away for four. Santh, who is getting the ball to hoop all over the place, chunters on his way back to his mark.

1122 - Eng 46-1 Extravagant swing for Zaheer and the ball arcs way down leg and runs away for four more byes. Another record has been truffled out! Monty equalled Jim Laker's record for most sixes conceded by an England bowler in an innings yesterday - six. Cook strikes me as a fundamentally nice bloke, but with a bit of devil about him. He's the sort of bloke who'd never cheat on his woman but wouldn't think twice about popping into a 'gentleman's' club on a night out with the lads.

"To Jan Rudd, Hertfordshire, give him some pancakes! I don't think its possible not to be made happy by pancakes."
Nick, Cambridge, in the TMS inbox

1119 - Eng 41-1 A life for Cook, the Essex man flipping Santh round the corner and Karthik putting down an absolute dolly. That went straight into the breadbasket at a reasonable pace and Santh exhales and looks to the gods. Cook rubs Santh's nose in it next ball, clipping Santh to fine-leg for four. One more single for Cook before Santh drifts onto Anderson's pads and England pick up four more leg-byes. Two for Anderson with a clip to square-leg. Santh bristles on his way back to his fielding position, I sense he's not very happy.

1113 - Eng 30-1 Just one leg-bye from Zaheer's second over and Anderson still declining to have a nibble at anything outside off-stump.

1107 - Eng 29-1 The lary young buck that is Santh takes the second over and he drifts onto Cook's legs and is tucked away for a single. Bearders on TMS informs us that India became the first side ever to put together eight fifty partnerships in an innings. Someone buy that man a cream bun.

1104 - Eng 28-1 Four runs for England, Zaheer sending one miles down leg and Dhoni, nailed to the spot, watching it fly to the boundary. Anderson negotiates the rest of the over and there are no great dramas so far.

1059: Here come the players and we're almost off. Just 441 runs needed by England to avoid to follow-on. Anderson, of course, is at the crease with Cook and England could really do with him sticking around as long as possible - all about crease occupation now.

"Right! I've packed him off to watch Charlton v Scunthorpe, and the Pimm's and pole-position armchair are all mine. Maybe some of your readers could advise on the ideal, low-maintenance cooking options so that the poor thing has something substantial to eat when he returns home tonight, distraught and tetchy after his Championship favourites slip to an unexpected home defeat?"
Jan Rudd, Hertfordshire, in the TMS inbox

1050: Sidebottom has been given an all-clear after his scan, which is good news for England, assuming he'll be required to bowl again. Jack (see below), I'm nominally a Spurs fan, but, I'll be honest, I've been looking forward to the new Premiership season about as much as I look forward to the coming of a new Rod Stewart album.

"It's the start of the football season today! Who do you follow? The mighty Stockport are hosting Dagenham. Far more exciting than watching England following on!"
Jack Byrne, Stockport, in the TMS inbox

"Kumble is everything that's good about cricket. He shows you can be a very tough man without resorting to the seamier side..."
Mike Selvey on TMS

1041: Morning. Time for an ill-advised prediction - England to lose by an innings and 50 runs and for it all to be over by Sunday evening. Kumble, in his only over last night, was turning it a mile. I'd like to see my record as a text commentator, I sense it's not very good. I constantly seem to be relaying tales of misery from various cricket grounds around the world...My colleague has just done his first Henry Cooper impersonation of the day and has now moved on to Michael Caine "you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off...". Anyone got any Polonium-210?

1036: "Good news for you Ben - some England fans have resorted to fancy dress for some light relief. I've just seen Father Christmas (two of them) accompanied by two snowmen. Boy, are they going to regret that."
BBC Sport's Alistair Watkins at The Oval

1029: A glorious morning for batting in Kennington - and boy do England need plenty of it today with only 441 more needed to avoid the follow-on.



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