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India-England day two as it happened

FIRST TEST, Chennai (day two, stumps):
India 155-6 v England 316

England took control of the first Test in Chennai as India crashed to 155-6 at stumps on day two of the first Test.

Graeme Swann took two wickets in his first over as a Test match bowler to remove Gautam Gambhir and then Rahul Dravid to silence a boisterous crowd.

Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman put on 61, but fell in consecutive overs to Monty Panesar and Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison saw off Yuvraj Singh.

Matt Prior had earlier scored an unbeaten 53 to see England to 316.


By Sam Lyon

e-mail (with 'For Sam Lyon' in the subject), text 81111 (with "CRICKET" as the first word). (Not all contributions can be used)


"Is there anything in life less predictable that an England fight back?"
Marcus via the TMX inbox

1135: Well, what a day. England resume on 229-5, only Matt Prior prevents a near total collapse, and then the tourists' bowling attack rips back the initiative in a terrific final two sessions. If Thursday was advantage India, then Friday is definitely advantage England. Still, Bhaji and Dhoni can hold a bat and the first couple of sessions will, again, be crucial. You lot have all been legends - apologies again for not using all your missives - join me tomorrow morning for more of the same. Fear not if you're already feeling impatient, the start of play will be around in two shakes of a can of worms.

1133 - India 155-6 - STUMPS
Flintoff refuses to take a breather and Harbhajan refuses to rein in his attacking instincts, punting the bowler back down the ground for yet another boundary. Dhoni faces the last delivery of the day... and instead of ducking under a Flintoff short one, wears it in the chest. Brave. Or silly, depending on how you look at it. Anyway, India close on 155-6 - still 161 runs behind.

"Bhaji and Zaheer have recently made runs when the top order has struggled. There's still hope. If India can get a deficit of around 50 runs, then it's still game on."
intellectualAdam on 606
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Vic Marks
"Harmison dashed straight to Flintoff there and not just because it was he who held the catch, but because it was Freddie who softened Yuvraj up. Great team-work."
Vic Marks on TMS

1122 - WICKET! Yuvraj c Flintoff b Harmison 14, India 137-6

Wicket falls
Yuvraj goes and that's brilliant work from KP, Flintoff and especially Harmison. KP, recognising Yuvraj is frail after that Flintoff barrage, brings back Harmison. The Durham seamer obliges with a wider one that tempts the drive but Yuvraj Singh can only edge it straight into the bucket-like hands of... Flintoff. Massive wicket. Harbhajan comes the crease - England are into the bowlers already - but four leg byes are followed by a beauty of a drive down the ground for four more. Two balls later and Harbhajan flays one just wide of Paul Collingwood at gully and it's another boundary. India 149-6

1120 - India 137-5
Flintoff to Yuvraj and Freddie, five overs into this spell already, is fired up and aiming plenty of chat in the left-hander's direction. One phrase being repeated is along the lines of 'my good man, what on earth kind of shot was that you were attempting to play?' Sort of. Flintoff saves the short one for the penultimate delivery but Yuvraj gets on top of it well, even if he doesn't time it at all. The pants remain firmly on, if you know what I mean (see below).

1115 - India 136-5
Much like England tried to target Mishra, India are looking to be aggressive to Swann and Dhoni grabs a couple of boundaries, one square and one down the pitch. Good work from the India skipper.

1111 - India 128-5
Blimey - Vic Marks is today's soothsayer. Moments after urging Freddie to fire a bouncer in, Flintoff obliges and Yuvraj is no position to play it, oh so narrowly missing the edge by a matter of a dog's breath. Last delivery and Yuvraj plays a flowery cut at another shorter one and Alastair Cook shells what would have been a stunner at gully. Stop sending mixed metaphors!

Vic Marks
"For all the promises of a short-pitched attack on Yuvraj, there has not been one bouncer at him has there? Is it a double bluff? He has to bowl one before the end of the day hasn't he?"
Vic Marks on TMS

"Can I just point out that the change in venue made it harder for India to stack the pitch in their favour, which is a huge part of home advantage. If they had managed to do so, England would still be batting, and this match would be heading for a draw."
Stone Cold Steve Austin on 606
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1106 - India 126-5Super Swanny returns to the attack and after a few singles he almost induces a mistake from Dhoni, the India skipper attempting to sweep from way outside the off stump and only narrowly missing the edge behind to Prior. Three off the over.

"We need to break the Yuvraj-Dhoni partnership NOW!"
I-Dont-Like-Cricket on 606
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1101 - India 123-5
Better from Flintoff, who has Yuvraj feeling for the ball outside off and missing by a matter of less than an inch. A single off his pads eases the pressure on the left-hander, and Dhoni repeats the trick off the last delivery. We're into overtime now, and Aggers speculates on TMS that we'll squeeze about seven more overs in.

1055 - India 121-5
Mahendra Dhoni breaks the brief India malaise as he punches a beautiful boundary past mid-on off Panesar before pinching a single. Panesar opts to go over the wicket to Yuvraj, but the left-hander replies with a dreamy stroke through the covers for four - his first scoring stroke for 16 balls.

1052 - India 112-5
Flintoff continues but an accurate over lacks a touch of verve and a Dhoni single is all that is to show from it. By the way, hundreds of you are emailing in your favourite mixed metaphors so apologies I can't use all of them. Rest assured, though, they are making me giggle my face off.

1048 - India 111-5
Tut tut, England's fielding has gone a bit awry at the moment as Yuvraj pushes to mid-off for a single only to get five for it as Flintoff allows Swann's shy at the stumps to go through his legs and the ball races over the boundary rope. Otherwise another tight Panesar over.

Jonathan Agnew
"It's hardly a minefield this pitch but there does appear to always be something there for the bowlers to ensure the batsmen never quite feel 'in'. A lead of 100 or more for England would be utterly remarkable..."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS

"Just so you know, it's customary to enjoy poetry in motion in an awe inspired silence. Hence why Ashburton Grove can prove quiet when The Arsenal are playing."
Adam C via the TMS inbox

"As an Indian and Arsenal fan - you really know how to hit a man when he's down!!!"
Sonny Nanua via the TMS inbox

"As an Arsenal fan I resent your accusation that the Emirates Stadium is quiet. We're usually very vocally and aggressively barracking our own players these days."
Harry H, London via the TMS inbox

1040 - India 106-5The crowd has certainly thinned out since Sachin's departure and England's fielders are having a bit of a laugh and a joke now - which leads to an unnecessary overthrow that gets Dhoni off the mark. A couple of extras off that over as well.

1035 - India 103-5
Panesar continues and Dhoni is very watchful. A maiden.

"On the subject of mixed metaphors, a girl I work with once declared that 'people in glass houses shouldn't stone crows'. It's certainly a factual statement, but not quite what she meant..."
James (London) via the TMS inbox

"Years ago, a colleague of mine came out with 'a war of nutrition'."
AWB, Shropshire via the TMS inbox

"My favourite - 'As mad as a box of frogs with a face like a bag of smashed crabs'."
Mikey, Macclesfield via the TMS inbox

1029 - WICKET! Tendulkar c & b Flintoff 37, India 102-5

Wicket falls
Erm, what the ballyhoo is going on? A loosener from Flintoff, presumably brought back to trouble Yuvraj, and Sachin Tendulkar spoons the simplest of return catches at him. The M.A.Chidambaram Stadium is quieter than the Emirates Stadium on a Champions League night all of a sudden.

1023 - WICKET! Laxman c & b Panesar 24, India 98-4

Wicket falls
Goddim! A little bit of flight from Panesar and even though VVS Laxman gets plenty of power in his shot it's straight back at the bowler, Monty pouching a sharp return catch. Laxman walks, Panesar can genuinely barely believe he's held it. I know what he means. That's THREE bits of good fielding from everyone's favourite spinner in about an hour! Yuvraj gets off the mark with a clipped four through mid-off. India 102-4

1021: If you're wondering about the delay - the umpires are picking a new 'new' ball. Yes, seriously.

"I came out with a belting mixed metaphor the other day, declaring: "I wouldn't trust him with a barge pole" - conjuring up an entirely different mental image to the one I was intending!"
JP in Retford, Notts, via the TMS inbox

"I think that has to the first time Iíve seen a 'judicious rhetorical trope' referenced in the commentary of a Test match... unless Mark in Sydney knows otherwise?"
Kathryn B via the TMS inbox

1019 - India 97-3
Impressively, finding the ball isn't swinging, Anderson does indeed complain about the 'new' one. I like that - keep changing the ball until you find one that swings and seams, sounds about fair. Ahem. Still, it's a maiden.

1015 - India 97-3
England's appeals for a ball-change actually bear fruit and Panesar will have first use of the 'new' ball. Tendulkar responds with a crashing cut for four and then a pulsating drive through the covers for another. Hhmm. KP waves in the direction of the boundary much like an eight-year-old would a friendly neighbour - "Can I have my ball back please?"

"My absolute favourite mixed metaphor cam from a Scottish colleague of mine who told me: "we'll have to jump on the band-wagon before we miss the boat", I still like to throw it into conversation myself on occasion."
Gary in Standon via the TMS inbox

1008 - India 89-3
Sachin Tendulkar picks off Anderson for a single to bring up this pair's 50 partnership and a single to Laxman later, England enquire whether the ball has lost its shape - a sure-fire sign it isn't swinging or seaming. The umpires tell Anderson to get on with it and he has the Sach in a spot of bother with one that rises, squares up the batsman, and strikes him on the shoulder. Around 15,000 home supporters let Anderson know that hurting their hero will not do at all - with their eyes. Spooky.

1002 - India 86-3
A polite enquiry from England as Panesar raps Laxman on the pads, but the batsman got a big stride in and it was probably missing leg, but that's a maiden and Monty might just be settling in here.

0959 - India 86-3
A short drinks break and Bowden toilet stop later and Anderson returns, Laxman and Tendulkar milking three easy runs off the over.

"I see where Ian in Bucks is coming from, metaphorically speaking, but I don't think we can describe 'timing the pants off' as a mixed metaphor as there is only one methaphorical device used, given that to 'time' simply indicates to 'make a shot with excellent timing' and is therefore literalist. I think linguists might call 'timing the pants off' a judicious rhetorical trope, but then linguists tend to be barking, metaphorically speaking."
Paul in Lancs via the TMS inbox

"I have a friend that collects mixed metaphors. Here are a few of my favourites: It's five miles as the cock crows; You're barking up the wrong flagpole; Up a gum tree without a paddle."
Alan via the TMS inbox

0952 - India 82-3
Accurate but rather unthreatening fare from Monty Panesar, Tendulkar pinching a single and Laxman seeing off the rest of the over with due diligence. Meanwhile, poor ol' Billy Bowden appears to be struggling rather with what one can only deduce is a dicky tummy. The Kiwi has dashed to and from the gents more often than a Best Man awaiting speech duties at a wedding today. How would he go about signalling a toilet break in the middle of an over in his rather individual style I wonder?

0949 - India 81-3
James Anderson is given his chance to break what is looking an increasingly dangerous partnership, but Laxman guides a delightful shot between slip and gully for a boundary and England's earlier enthusiasm now turns to a touch of chin-scratching and arm-folding.

"Re: 0927 - Is it possible to "time the pants off" anything? Whatever the answer, it does suggest a rather interesting game of mixed metaphors for the rest of the day."
Ian, Buckingham via the TMS inbox

0942 - India 77-3
It is indeed Monty time and he will be hoping to exploit as much bounce out of this track as possible, having watched Harbhajan snare a couple for India with some spitting lift. A couple of singles from the over and nothing untoward to worry Tendulkar or Laxman just yet.

0939 - India 75-3
Sit back and admire as Tendulkar creams a delightful four square of the wicket, pouncing on a little bit of width from Harmison, and he collects another boundary somewhat less convincingly next ball, edging behind point this time.

0935 - India 66-3
Easy as you like for Tendulkar and Laxman as they work the singles off Swann with ease, three off the over, and it might be nearing Monty time do we think?
The making of Monty

0932 - India 63-3
Harmison decides to bang in a bit of short stuff and Laxman doesn't look anywhere near as comfortable, edging onto his pad and up offering what would have been a simple catch for short leg had anyone been there. Which there wasn't. Shame.

0927 - India 62-3
Panesar helps out his fellow spinner with a couple of fine bits of fielding at mid-off - yes, seriously - but Laxman shows his consummate class with a delightful clip through midwicket for four off one that was six inches outside off. He absolutely timed the pants off that one.

0923 - India 58-3
Harmison returns to the attack with Flintoff given a bit of a breather, and he immediately has Tendulkar in trouble, the India hero looking to bounce under a short one and succeeding only in wearing it on his arm. Grievous can't maintain the pressure, though, and India pinch a couple of singles.

"Get this in to perspective, this is India IN India. A good fighting start from England, but they need seven more wickets and it's a long batting line-up..."
Dave S via the TMS inbox

0919 - India 56-3
Despite getting a bit of a tonking last over, Swann continues and after Tendulkar gets off strike, KP sticks Strauss in at a short square leg making it four in and round the bat. England looking to unsettle VVS early in his innings, here, but he plays out the over well enough.

0915 - India 55-3
Laxman angles Flintoff through gully for a couple but then almost offers Ian Bell a diving catch at short leg, the ball evading the Sherminator by a matter of inches. For his part, Tendulkar is clearly not looking to inch around, the Little Master moving on to 10 from 13 balls with a nudge off his hip. Laxman then clips in front of square on the leg side for a beautifully timed four and this Test is very much alive and well now.

"With his ability to amuse and entertain with impressions of Bumble amongst others, could Swann not convert that to the middle with a series of "appeals as done by..."?"
Matt - following the cricket from Bulgaria - via the TMS inbox

Angus Fraser
"Swann now has 20-20 figures!"
Angus Fraser on TMS

0909 - India 46-3
Swanny continues and after Laxman gets off the mark nearly Tendulkar clearly decides he is having none of it, going down on one knee and tonking the Notts man flat over midwicket for the first maximum of the match. What an introduction to Test cricket for Swann huh?

"Re: Swann two wickets in his first Test over for England - did Richard Johnson not do the same thing against Zimbabwe at Durham? I know it was fairly early on in the innings (I was at the game) and I sure it was his first over."
Mark, Sydney, via the TMS inbox
(Give yourself a hearty slap on the back, Mark, you are indeed correct. Excellent work, sir. Swanny's over seems downright ordinary now doesn't it!)

0904 - India 37-3
Well, as the investigations continue over whether Swanny indeed is the first debutant to take two wickets in his first over in Test cricket, play resumes in Chennai and Flintoff continues with his unerringly accurate fare, a maiden.

"India still need 79 to avoid the follow-on."
Geoff via the TMS inbox

"Perhaps Swanny is Sampson in reverse - cut off his hair and he's much stronger!"
Linda in Newbury via the TMS inbox

"What an inspired bowling change from KP, two wickets in his first over for Swann, and suddenly 300+ looks a decent score!"
Mad_for_Chelsea on 606
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"Looks like India's innings could going down the Swanny!"
Seb via text

0840 - WICKET! Dravid lbw b Swann 3, India 37-3 - TEA

Wicket falls
Unbelievable! Two wickets in Swanny's first over in Test cricket! Tendulkar comfortably takes two and then a single, bringing Rahul Dravid on strike, and Swann turns one back at him brilliantly, trapping him in front, and Harper raises the finger. We believe Swann's the first debutant to get two wickets in his first over - incredible end to the session, and who's on top now?!

0836 - WICKET! Gambhir lbw b Swann 19, India 34-2

Wicket falls
KP decides to give Graeme Swann his first bowl in Test cricket and Gautam Gambhir goes! First ball Gambhir cuts for four, second ball England are convinced Gambhir has edged to short leg - not given - third ball Gambhir doesn't play, Swann raps the front pad, and Daryl Harper gives it! Three balls in and Swanny has his first Test scalp! Replays suggest it was going on to hit off stump - good decision.

"Is it not possible for Paul from Lancs to be employed as spokesman for the England management? We might not always understand what he's on about, but it sounds interesting, which is more than can be said for some of the official gobledigook."
Roger (Denmark) via the TMS inbox

0833 - India 30-1
More accurate fare from Flintoff, who restricts Dravid to a scampered single before going agonisingly close to bowling Gambhir from around the wicket with one that kept very, very low. A coat of paint away from two down there India.

0828 - India 28-1
KP, encouraged by Flintoff and Anderson's accuracy, now has three slips and a gully in place and Jimmy A responds with a maiden. Harmison, who went off with a 'sore knee' is back on and 'may bowl, but may not' according to an ECB missive. So that's cleared that up then.

Jonathan Agnew
"The security presence remains hot around the ground, and around our hotel and things, by the way. In fact, I very nearly got a smile out of my machine gun lady last night! I definitely think she's weakening..."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS

0824 - India 28-1
Flintoff resumes his battle with Dravid and he beats the bat again with another jaffa, before completing a maiden.

0820 - India 28-1
No swing for Jimmy A just yet, but he's pounding away nicely. The contrast between Gambhir and Dravid couldn't be more stark at present, the former looking ominously good, the latter ominously bad.

"Re: Rahul Dravid's pre-batting nonchalance, I think you learn to be cool about stuff when your very name carries the essence of South India within it. It's like Flintoff being called Andrew Whole-of-Northern-England-right-down-to-Stoke-except-Yorkshire-maybe. That's pressure."
Paul in Lancs via the TMS inbox

0815 - India 25-1
With Harmison off the field, Flintoff - the man the players said bowled "at the speed of light" in their warm-up sessions in Abu Dhabi - comes on to bowl and with his very first delivery goes past Dravid's edge with an absolute pearler. He has Dravid bobbing and weaving before the India star nudges off his hips to get off the mark, and it's a no ball too. Moral victory for Freddie.

0810 - India 23-1
Crunch! Slightly short, slighty wide from Anderson and Gambhir licks his lips and kerplunks it on the cut away to the boundary, ruining an otherwise tidy over from the Lancs man.

0805 - India 19-1
A little worry for England as first Pietersen and then Harmison pull up, the former flexing his back and the latter feeling his knee. Still, Harmison carries on to beat Dravid's bat with the India no 3 not so much resembling a 'wall' as a windswept towel at the moment. Three off that over off the bat of Gambhir and Harmison leaves the field for a bit of treatment. Hhmm.

Bill Frindall
"No centuries for Dravid in 10 Test matches, and just two 50s in his last nine. Not a man in form."
Bill Frindall on TMS

0755 - WICKET! Sehwag b Anderson 9, India 16-1

Wicket falls
Breakthrough! The delivery after Virender Sehwag punches a beauty down the ground for four, Anderson cramps him up for room and the opener can only chop onto his own stumps. Just what England needed. Dravid, who has cast his paper to one side it seems, is watchful for the rest of the over.

0754 - India 12-0
Steve Harmison - possibly benefitting from his efforts in the one-day series - is looking in good rhythm out there and he bowls a maiden with Gambhir untroubled.

Angus Fraser
"Spinners took seven of the 10 wickets to fall in England's innings, but seamers can certainly make their lives easier. If Harmison or Anderson - of Flintoff for that matter - can nip out one or two, Panesar and Swann will feel a lot more confident."
Angus Fraser on TMS

0750 - India 12-0
Gambhir gets his first four of the day, a rather streaky edge past the slips off Anderson's first ball and a single off the last ball sends the Indian crowd into a veritable frenzy. Wonderful enthusiasm from the home supporters and it suddenly feels like a proper atmosphere again - lovely.

0745 - India 7-0
Plenty to keep Harmison interested here - the ball showing lots of carry through to keeper Prior behind the stumps. Sehwag rides one bouncing delivery brilliantly, though, and dabs behind point for India's first boundary of the innings.

0740 - India 3-0
Anderson to Sehwag and the seamer is opting for short of a length rather than looking for swing - just a leg bye off that over. Still, any thoughts that India might be at all concerned at England's total are apparently dispelled by a shot of Rahul Dravid on the balcony. He's next man in but he has his feet up, no pads on and he's reading the paper - he even has a red bandana on to complete the 'sunning yourself on holiday' look. Pure nonchalance.

"Anyone else slightly concerned that an almost identical Indian batting line up blasted 387 runs off less than half as many overs a few weeks ago?"
Tom, in Bombay, via the TMS inbox

0734 - India 2-0
Steve Harmison first up to Gambhir - who has scored centuries in his last two Test innings - and the Durham seamer almost has him third ball, the left-hander clipping just short of Graeme Swann on the dive at backward square leg! Harmison then beats a Sehwag slash with one that bounces nicely. A couple of singles off the over but some interest for Harmison.

Jonathan Agnew
"Wow, what a reception for this India pair. The biggest noise from the crowd so far by a mile. Pressure or inspiration for Gambhir and Sehwag?"
Jonathan Agnew on TMS

0724: So England about, erm, 80 runs short of a half-decent total? Excellent resistance from Prior with the lower order, though he may now be regretting his decision not to open his shoulders a touch more with Harmison and then Panesar up the other end. We're about to find out just how good, or otherwise, this wicket is with India openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir due at the crease. Any optimists out there tipping England to retain a first-innings lead? Didn't think so...


0719 - WICKET! Panesar lbw Sharma 6, England 316 all out

Wicket falls
Prior nudges another single to move to 53 and England's second-highest scorer, and Monty Panesar finally succumbs three balls later, Sharma shaping a beauty back in at the tail-ender and Billy Bowden barely waits for the ball to crash into Monty's pads before raising his finger. England 316 all out, Prior stranded, and India bang on top.

Sunil Gavaskar
"Prior has been watchful most of the time, even though he can be an explosive batsman as we know, and he has worked the ones and twos very impressively. It's been an excellent innings."
Sunil Gavaskar on TMS

0715 - England 315-9
Another Prior single and Harbhajan launches into an enthusiastic appeal when he raps Monty on the pads - the ball was going over, though. The no 11 then dabs behind square for a couple and the score ticks over, slowly but (sort of) surely. Ishant Sharma is warming up in the outfield now.

0712 - England 312-9
No thwacking from Prior just yet, but the same can't be said of Panesar as the no 11 attempts to launch Mishra into the stands, lofting a drive instead between mid-on and mid-off for a couple.

"Nice job Prior. A fighting 50. Take a bow! Some thwacking now?"
indianinusa on 606
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0706 - England 309-9

That's 50
Panesar gets Matt Prior on strike first ball with a nudge to leg and the wicketkeeper brings up his 5th Test half-century with another nonchalant clip off his pads. Impressive innings that, his 50 coming off 96 balls with just the one boundary but plenty of scoring shots.

0704 - England 307-9
A single apiece - Monty's off the mark - and Prior's a run off a half century. When does he open his shoulders, I wonder?

0702 - England 305-9
Archetypal in-out field for Prior, who will do well to get anything other than a single with five men on the boundary. A single it is, first ball, and Dhoni immediately posts five men round the bat. Every shot of Panesar shows the Northants man grinning like a kid in a sweet shop - you gotta love 'im! - and he survives despite a ripper from Harbhajan that zips off a length past his nose.

0655 - WICKET! Harmison c Dhoni b Yuvraj 6, England 304-9

Wicket falls
Harmison goes and louiswalsh4englandcc is probably off the hook. A bit of drift, a bit of bounce and Steve Harmison follows the ball, offering the thinnest of nicks behind to Dhoni. Yuvraj doesn't realise he's got him with umpire Billy Bowden unmoved, but Harmison walks and you know what that means - bring on the Montster!

"If England get over 400 I'll work for free as Harmy's shoe cleaner for the next year."
louiswalsh4englandcc on 606
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0652 - England 303-8
Prior's showing plenty of faith in Harmison out there, and that's no bad thing with runs needed on the board, the wicketkeeper working a single off the first ball and Grievous seeing off the rest of Harbhajan's over comfortably.

0649 - England 302-8
Bizarre field from Dhoni to Prior, extraordinarily defensive. Prior responds with a couple of well-worked doubles to midwicket and a single as England edge past the 300. Fyi, this ball is now 121 overs old.

Vic Marks
"Obviously England aren't going to get a mammoth score, but what we're all wondering is how Sehwag, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Laxman, erm, Dhoni et al are going to bat on here. My word, that batting line-up sounds good when you say it out loud doesn't it?"
Vic Marks on TMS

0645 - England 297-8
Prior faces the first ball after lunch, sweeps a top-edge single, and immediately it's four men round the bat for Harmison facing Harbhajan. A couple of leg byes push the score nearer the 300 mark and that's the over.

0637: Now then, big session for England coming up, are you ready?

"Sam, it's updates like 0528 that make TMS worth staying up for. Thirty three words and not one of them comprehensible to an American. I love the US, but I can't wait to go home for Christmas now."
Mark (in Chicago, but from Burnley) via the TMS inbox

0602 - England 294-8 - LUNCH
More elegance from Prior, who has batted with fortitude and no little skill this morning, the wicketkeeper punching a couple through the covers and then grabbing a single off the penultimate ball. Harmison survives the final delivery comfortably, and that's lunch. India's session, no doubt about that, but impressive from Prior - who must be playing under all sorts of pressure on his return to the Test side - at least, he's unbeaten on 39 off 81 balls. Cooked breakfast? Don't mind if I do! See you in 40...

"I am doing a 4,000 word Econometrics project due in by 11 oclock, but I refuse to carry on with it until I see my name on the internet! Please!!"
Jack Warburton via the TMS inbox
(Done, now get on with your work. Oh, and love your bread)

0558 - England 291-8
Prior and Harmison continue to tick things over with singles, though umpire Daryl Harper does them few favours by allowing Harbhajan a seven-ball over. One more over before lunch and it will be Yuvraj...

0556 - England 288-8
Excellent over for England as Prior works a couple of singles, while Harmison shows he is certainly no mug with the bat with a paddle for three and a late cut for two. Seven off the over.

Angus Fraser
"It will be interesting to see what Harmison does. It will only be a question of time, no matter England's position, before he resorts to some good old fashioned swishing I'm sure."
Angus Fraser on TMS

0552 - England 281-8
Good work from Prior, defending five excellent Harbhajan deliveries and then working a single off the last ball - much to Dhoni's annoyance - to keep the strike.

0549 - England 280-8
It's all on Matt Prior's shoulders now then - and I seem to remember him batting rather well with the tail on occasion? - and he ticks things over with a couple to leg and then a single to long on. "No greater compliment, that, than India setting a long-on to Prior," says a colleague, although I wonder if it's just because they fancy Harmison's a walking wicket at the other end. Still, Grievous survives and it's just over 10 minutes until lunch.

0542 - WICKET! Swann c Dravid b Harbhajan 1, England 277-8

Wicket falls
Blimey, nothing Graeme Swann can do about that as a Harbhajan delivery spits like a cobra off a length and the Notts man can only glove it to Dravid at slip. Not sure where that freak bounce came from and the only consolation for Swann is that he will have his chance to take advantage of it later. Grievous bodily Harmison is next man in.

0540 - England 276-7
Another single for Prior off Mishra and still no hint of the new ball as Simon Mann reveals his utterly arbitrary predicition of earlier in the day on TMS. 311? Not 310, not 315, 311. How strange.

Simon Mann
"At the start of play today, I declared that England would get 311."
Simon Mann on TMS

0536 - England 275-6
Prior grabs a couple of singles off Harbhajan - the latter a touch fortunate when his lofted drive falls between two fielders - as Swann gets off the mark with a dab to leg.

0530 - WICKET! Anderson c Yuvraj b Mishra 19, England 271-7

Wicket falls
Ah, just as the boys here in the office were looking up James Anderson's longest stay at the crease in Tests, the night-watchman sweeps straight into Yuvraj's hands at deep midwicket. He goes for 19 off 82 balls and that's a very good effort from the Lancs man. Graeme Swann strides out for his first bat in Test cricket but Prior pinches the strike with a single. England 272-7

0528 - England 270-6
Bit of a long-hop from Harbhajan and Jimmy A pounces on it much like a retiree on the last yorkshire pudding at Sunday dinner, spanking a beauty through the covers for a boundary.

0524 - England 264-6
A Prior sweep for one in an otherwise uneventful over. Except that Mishra has the cheek to enquire about the shape of the ball to the umpire at one point - it's blooming 109 overs old, son, what do you expect?

0520 - England 263-6
Dhoni persists with the twin-spin and the compact Prior grabs a couple with a nudge to fine leg off Harbhajan. Dogged partnership, this, I wonder how long it'll be before India switch to pace and the new ball?

0517 - England 261-6
Mishra continues, Prior pinches a single, and it's as you were until a delightful googly has Jimmy A groping around like a drunk in an abatoir. Wasted on a tail-ender, that, Amit.

"Re: the hair XI. I suppose Charlie Barnett would be a fringe player? And then there was commentary by John Arlott-off-the-sides-please..."
Paul in Spain via the TMS inbox

0514 - England 260-6
Harbhajan will turn his arm over for the first time this morning and, after Anderson punches him away for a single, Prior executes a delicious slog-sweep away for four.

"Tom, any chance you can find the victorious cat and send him down to Bondi? There's a couple of amorous possums who like nothing more than waking me up at 5am with their early morning loving and I'm planning on being quite hungover by then this weekend!"
Dave in rainy Sydney via the TMS inbox

0510 - England 254-6
Huzzah! James Anderson gets the first boundary of the day - 68 minutes into play - and would you Adam and Eve it, it's a perfectly executed reverse-sweep! That's a little bit like witnessing a white van man dusting himself down at the local boozer and delivering a heart-wrenching performance of Nessun Dorma. Next man in and Anderson's good pal Graeme Swann looks highly impressed on the balcony.

"As nothing has happened in 10 minutes, I will keep you up to date from Phuket. A strong gust of wind has just blown several important papers off my desk. As you were..."
Frank Paul via the TMS inbox

"Have now gone 17 days without smoking, and working night shifts isn't overly helping the matter. If only England would hurry up and have a bit of a run spurt, I'd get a bit of adrenaline to get me through the rest of the night! As for the soon-to-be-legendary Bad Hair XI, 2 words: Jack Russell. Bless."
Jon in York via the TMS inbox

Jonathan Agnew
"The players take drinks prompting another huddle from the Indians. They love a huddle even more than England, it seems. They are forever huddling!"
Jonathan Agnew on TMS

0503 - England 248-6
Sharma continues but Anderson keeps his wits about him - thanks in part, at least, to Prior's vocal encouragement from the other end - and a no-ball, the first of the innings, is the only score off the over. This ball is now 104 overs old and, to quote 'Bumble' Lloyd, is starting to resemble something your dog would play with. No sign of Dhoni opting for a new 'cherry' just yet, though, and with Mishra bowling well and Harbhajan and Yuvraj yet to turn their arm over today, I don't suppose you can blame him.

"Re: Tom @ 0439 - I saw a hedehog and a dog having a fight in Sydney once. The Hedgehog won on points! (Boom boom!)"
Bert via the TMS inbox

0456 - England 247-6
At the risk of bokking the England wicketkeeper, Prior is looking in good order out there. Mishra is giving the ball plenty of flight, but the Sussex man fronts up well and he sees out a maiden.

0453 - England 247-6
Prior pinches a single first up off Sharma - he's 11no off 21 now - leaving Anderson to scratch about for the rest of the over. The game inching along.

"I'm not sure about up there in Sydney Tom (see below), but down here in Melbourne they're putting cats under a strict curfew to stop such incidents (possum fighting) taking place. Yes you read that correctly. I assume they will be forced to wear some kind of feline time piece so they're not late in."
Chris B via the TMS inbox

0448 - England 246-6
Mishra to Anderson and the night-watchman paddles a couple down to fine leg. Jimmy A only playing the occasional hoik now, which I must say is a lot less fun to watch, if undoubtedly a more sensible approach for England.

"Maybe Darryl Hair could umpire the 'Bad Hair XI'? He has been known to have more than his fair share of 'Bad Hair Days'"
Steve Herbert, Northampton via the TMS inbox

0444 - England 244-6
Dropped! Ishant Sharma returns to the attack, finds the edge of Jimmy Anderson's bat, but Rahul Dravid spills a regulation chance at slip - he shelled a few in the recent series against Australia too, don't forget. A leg bye off the final ball of the over keeps the nightwatchman on strike.

0439 - England 243-6
A single apiece - including a top-edged sweep from Anderson that falls short of Yuvraj - for the England pair, but Mishra is getting a bit of purchase on the pitch here.

"I had to endure a possum fighting a cat last night at 4:30am here in Sydney. I'm no expert on the sounds of a dying possum, but I think the cat won in the end."
Tom via the TMX inbox

0436 - England 241-6
Crowd update for you - a darn sight more Brits in the crowd today as far as I can tell, including what looks like Ryan Sidebottom's rather overweight twin. If you're over in Chennai and reading this, please get in touch! Maiden for Zaheer as Bangderson reins in his attacking instincts, though the Lancs man is lucky to survive an lbw shout - the ball possibly just striking him outside the line.

0432 - England 241-6
Another couple for Prior as he edges Mishra past the slip cordon and it's a an otherwise uneventful over. Bring Jimmy Bang-derson (you see what I did there?) back on strike!

Angus Fraser
"Look, at least James Anderson is providing us with a bit of fun here as night-watchman - so often your heart sinks when you see one at the crease. Not Devon Malcolm, though, he used to tell us in the dressing room 'if I survive the first ball out there, the show begins!'"
Angus Fraser on TMS

"I had a crow outside my window here in Brisbane and it annoyed me too, thanks for keeping us informed Jonathan."
Wayne H via the TMS inbox

0428 - England 239-6
It's shot-a-ball time from James Anderson, which is rather amusing given that it looks like he's batting with a stick of celery out in Chennai. He dashes through for a single on an overthrow, with Prior ticking the scoreboard over with an edge low past the slip cordon.

0423 - England 237-6
Right then, someone has clearly told James Anderson that he is in fact England's answer to Brian Lara as he goes down on one knee and attempts to slog-sweep Mishra for six off the second delivery, succeeding only in thick-edging a single. Prior looks a lot more compact at the other end and he scampers a couple of twos with nudges down to fine leg.

"How about Beefy Botham's mullet for the Bad Hair XI?"
Terry Stone, a non-student ex-pat in Singapore, via the TMS inbox

"James, the worst hair in cricket has to be Goochie's, bless his cotton socks."
Steve, Germany via the TMS inbox

0419 - England 232-6
Zaheer Khan is getting some great shape on his left-arm over - he really is a cracking bowler - and he has James Anderson in all sorts of problems before the night-watchman paddles one backward of square for England's first run of the day. Prior - what a task he has on his hands - gets off the mark with a clip off his legs for two.

0412 - WICKET! Flintoff c Gambhir b Mishra 18, England 229-6

Wicket falls
Just the one over from Sharma, then, despite the fact he could - and probably should - have had Flintoff off only the third ball of the day. Amit Mishra comes on and within three deliveries he too has an lbw appeal turned down. Big inside edge on that one, though. Much like two deliveries later, only this time Andrew Flintoff edges it onto his pad and into Gautam Gambhir's safe hands at short leg. Oh dear.

"Re: James from Oxford - Why not go further and make a 'Bad hair XI'? I'd have Lasith Malinga opening with Sid, Broad first change. KP's 'skunk' do gets him in as well."
Trick, Taipei via the TMS inbox

0409 - England 229-5
Zaheer Khan comes in from the other end - still with the old ball by the way - but Jimmy Anderson bobs and weaves his way through a short-pitched attack to survive and it's a maiden.

Jonathan Agnew
"There was dog outside my hotel window last night, that literally barked from dusk til dawn. It made me really rather cross, I must say."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS

"Not a student or an ex-pat, just your run of the mill insomniac... Anyway, having just discussed the worst haircuts in music - the dude from Death Cab for Cutie and Robert Smith were crowned winners - I wondered who in cricket has the worst hair? My shout has to be Ryan 'Toploader' Sidebottom with Stuart 'Malfoy' Broad a close second. A special mention to Virender Sehwag, the only clearly balding man who is clinging desperately to the remainder of his hair."
James, Oxford via the TMS inbox

0403 - England 229-5
Holy moly that's a massive let-off in the first over as Ishant Sharma raps Andrew Flintoff on the pad with one that nipped in a touch, only for Billy Bowden to turn down the frenetic appeal. TV replays suggest it was tearing leg stump out. Ahem.

"Good morning Sam, if it makes you feel any better it is coming down by the bucket load in Sydney on a day where many companies have planned Christmas parties on the water."
Peter Hook via the TMS inbox

0358: Right, as the India team huddles together on the outfield, Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson stride purposefully to the crease... we're moments away from the restart and, as always, I'm going to stick my neck on the line and tip Freddie to blaze it to all parts for at least an hour and Prior and Swann to underline the advantages of having decent batsmen at seven and eight later on in the day. You gotta love that kind of optimism haven't you?

"Just got in from a night out... nearly got punched by a mate (I was 'dancing with his girl') then managed to get abused by a load of girls in the cab back because 'I don't dance enough'. How does that work?!?! Hopefully better luck to England today!"
davidjf on 606
Join the debate

0353: Right... early straw poll... at what point will Flintoff dance down the wicket and flay Harbhajan out of the ground/miss and get himself stumped by a mile?

"Marcus asked yesterday "Is there anything in life as predictable as an England batting collapse?" Well, Benjamin Franklin might have said "death and taxes and England collapses". But he didn't. Our only hope now is young Alastair Cook - double ton next time my son. The lad fields and bowls too. Captain material he is."
Steve Cook (no relation), Einglas, Battens-Schlumpfgrube, Germany via the TMS inbox

0349: Chat from the middle, where Alastair Cook is assessing the pitch, and the England opener insists the pitch is deteriorating rather quickly, not least around the footholes left by Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma's run-ups. "We need to stick on another 150 or so runs and as the Test goes on the pitch will definitely break up, so hopefully our bowlers can take advantage of that." Pretty bog standard fare really.

0343: Don't forget, you can play a massive part in this live text commentary by letting me know your thoughts via email to, text to 81111 and also by getting involved on 606 - three easy-to-use ways of making yourself famous so get involved. Not all contributions can be used but decent cricket and/or amusing chat is more than likely to be posted early doors given most of the western world is tucked up nicely in bed. The ex-pats won the day yesterday so let's see if the students show up this evening. Consider that the gauntlet thrown down.
Join the debate

0339: Well howdy doody folks. It's day two of the first Test between England and India and it's fair to say the tourists' innings is very much in the balance at 229-5. If Flintoff, Prior et al get into their groove early doors then England could still post a decent enough target. However, should night-watchman James Anderson's expected early departure spark another collapse, the visitors' bowlers could be looking at a very long day. Thoughts anyone?

see also
Swann revels in dream Test debut
12 Dec 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
12 Dec 08 |  England
Swann on song as England prosper
12 Dec 08 |  England
India v England day two photos
12 Dec 08 |  England
England falter after Strauss ton
11 Dec 08 |  England
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket

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