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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2007, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
England facing follow-on at Oval
THIRD NPOWER TEST, The Oval, day three (close):
England 326-9 v India 664

By Jamie Lillywhite

Paul Collingwood
Collingwood made a valiant effort at The Oval

England closed day three of the final Test at The Oval on 326-9, still 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 made a patient 41 but fell to Sachin Tendulkar's first ball just before tea, ending a 78 stand from 27 overs with Paul Collingwood (62).

Ian Bell (63) added 86 with Collingwood but both fell within five overs.

A 2-0 Indian series victory will not merely put gloss on an encouraging revival from Rahl Dravid's team - it will lift them level on points in second place with England in the official Test rankings.

Each of their seamers quickly found considerable swing on another sunny morning at The Oval.

Their main difficulty was controlling the ball, so sharply was it deviating in the air, and their lines were often awry.

Nightwatchman James Anderson did his job and played some perfectly correct strokes, striking three boundaries in his 16 before he was trapped on the crease after 55 minutes.

Aside from the errant bowling, India's fielding was also occasionally to blame, with Cook given his first reprieve when on just 13.

Michael Vaughan with Anil Kumble
Vaughan was dismissed by Kumble in the final over before lunch

Rahul Dravid had placed a leg slip specifically for the leg glance, and his plan should have worked perfectly but Dinesh Karthik spilled the chance after juggling with the ball.

On 28 Cook offered a much sharper opportunity to Sourav Ganguly, also at leg slip, off Kumble.

Vaughan was given a stern working over early in his innings.

Zaheer Khan tested him with a bouncer the India players thought had brushed the glove on the way to the keeper.

Then next ball he pitched one up that swung in and looped up off the bat to a nearby fielder, but luckily for the England captain no contact was made with the inside edge.

Cook was fortunate again having just passed 50 when Singh appeared to trap him in front but umpire Ian Howell decided it was not out.

Vaughan weathered his sketchy start to play his trademark swivel pull and send the ball whistling into the mid-wicket fence, but lost Cook 10 minutes before lunch.

In between his moments of anxiety Cook had played some elegant strokes but, trying to turn a Kumble delivery to leg, his leading edge spooned up easily to mid-off.

Kumble, the only centurion for India in the series, then struck again when his googly bamboozled Vaughan, who offered the simplest of return catches.

Kevin Pietersen departs
Pietersen's dismissal was another major blow to England's chances

Pietersen played with unusual restraint after lunch, with 17 overs between his first and second boundaries.

But having pulled Singh fiercely through mid-wicket, he quickly added a sumptuous cover drive.

The ball continued to swing sharply, even the bouncers, one short one collected by Mahendra Dhoni in front of first slip.

Ganguly was introduced in a bid to tempt the batsmen outside the off-stump but it turned out to be Tendulkar who broke the partnership.

He produced a sharp leg-break and Pietersen decided to attack it, his drive skewing off the edge waist high to a gratfeul Dravid.

Collingwood, ideally suited to the rigours of battle, overcame a cautious start to dig in defiantly, never pretty but always with commitment.

Tendulkar continued in partnership with Kumble after tea, offering substantially more turn but rather less accuracy.

Bell was granted a full-toss wide of off-stump to despatch for his first boundary.

A controlled edge to the the vacant third man boundary from Bell recorded the fifty stand, and though the partnership failed to captivate a subdued crowd, it was an impressive display of concentration.

He came within inches of reaching his fifty with a lofted straight six - the hit off Kumble landing just inside the ropes and going for four - but calmly recorded it next ball with a single.

It was the second new ball that provided the next breakthrough, Sree Santh trapping Collingwood as he shuffled across his crease, the gritty Durham all-rounder clearly feeling the ball would have headed down the leg-side.

As so often when well set, Bell departed four overs later when he stabbed at a wide one from Zaheer.

Only Ryan Sidebottom - cleared of a side injury following a scan on Friday evening - will know why he tried to pull a quick delivery that was too close to him and simply lobbed back to India's left-arm paceman in the same over.

Prior's wretched match plumbed new depths, and the lack of confidence from his wicket-keeping errors transferred to a hesitant performance with the bat.

He lasted 15 unconvincing deliveries and departed to a routine edge which was smartly snaffled at first slip by Tendulkar, leaving Chris Tremlett to hit successive boundaries and last man Monty Panesar to provide some gallows humour for those that remained by blocking out the final over of the day.

SEE ALSO
India build towards strong total
09 Aug 07 |  England
India in England 2007
08 Jan 07 |  Cricket


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