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Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

Swann on song as England prosper

First Test, Chennai (day two, stumps):
England 316 v India 155-6

By Oliver Brett

Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen
Graeme Swann's introduction before tea paid instant dividends

Graeme Swann claimed two wickets in his first over as a Test bowler as England took control on day two of the first Test against India in Chennai.

The spinner trapped Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid lbw as India struggled with the bat in reply to England's 316.

Monty Panesar and Andrew Flintoff then removed VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar before Steve Harmison dismissed Yuvraj Singh to leave India 155-6 at stumps.

Matt Prior's patient 53 not out was vital in helping England past 300.

England's score looked to be on the modest side, but Swann's remarkable intervention, plus a wicket apiece for England's four other bowlers, put a totally different complexion on the match, and left the tourists favourites to win.

Swann became only the second man to strike twice within his first six deliveries - matching the achievement of another Englishman, seam bowler Richard Johnson, in 2003.

Although Swann first played for England in a one-day international in 2000, the 29-year-old spent a long time on the sidelines before being recalled to international duty just over a year ago.

But this was his first taste of Test cricket, and the Nottinghamshire spinner's natural self-confidence stood him in good stead for the challenge.

The day had begun with James Anderson and Flintoff at the crease, and England optimistically targeting 400.

But anything in excess of 300 looked in doubt as soon as Flintoff had been ousted by spinner Amit Mishra with no addition to the team's overnight score.

He tamely squeezed a catch to short-leg off his pad leaving the night-watchman Anderson to take England's innings on in tandem with Sussex wicket-keeper Prior.

The pair played in dogged fashion, and it was deep into the second hour before either hit a boundary, with a surprise reverse sweep from Anderson scuttling down to the third-man fence.

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Prior, recalled to the Test side at the expense of Tim Ambrose, then slog-swept Harbhajan Singh for his only boundary in a 102-ball innings.

The duo added 42 from 106 deliveries of what was, frankly, fairly tedious cricket, with skipper Mahendra Dhoni, reluctant to take the second new ball, simply rotating his three spinners.

Finally Anderson, whose stubborn innings brought to mind two 80-ball efforts from him last summer, finally tried something a little bit too bold off Mishra - and hit an easy catch to deep midwicket.

After the often innocuous Harbhajan produced a fine top-spinner which Swann could only glove to slip, Harmison gave Prior further company in a 27-run stand for the ninth wicket which straddled the lunch interval.

But he edged Yuvraj behind, and Panesar, who was given a lot of the strike by Prior, was trapped lbw by Ishant Sharma.

Finally India could concentrate on batting, but Virender Sehwag was too nonchalant at a ground where he had struck 319 against South Africa in March this year.

TMS Close of Play - First Test, day two

Attempting to guide a ball off the back foot down to third man, he edged Anderson onto his stumps and India had already been checked.

Dravid, who has endured a woeful run of form this year, and a much more assured Gambhir then took the total to 30-1 before Pietersen gave Swann the last over before tea.

His first ball was pitched short and Gambhir smashed it to the boundary, but two balls later Swann had his man, as the left-hander opted to play no stroke to a ball from around the wicket which drifted in and went straight on.

The last ball of the session was a big off-break bowled at the right-handed Dravid, which struck the batsman on the back foot in front of off-stump. For the second time in a dramatic over, Australian umpire Daryl Harper upheld the lbw appeal.

Former England paceman Johnson had also picked up two lbws in a Test match at Durham's Chester-le-Street. However, on that occasion the opposition were a meek Zimbabwe, a far cry from this star-studded Indian side.

After tea, Tendulkar put Swann in his place, slog-sweeping for the first six of the match. He and Laxman soon began to give the home supporters - greater in number and more boisterous than on Thursday - plenty to cheer.

Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff bowled some terrific deliveries at the end of a long day
Panesar initially appeared to bowl too quickly for the requirements of the wicket, Tendulkar cutting and driving him on the off-side for two boundaries in a single over.

The two right-handers had added 61 together and seemed certain to convert that by many more.

However, a fierce Laxman drive was caught by Panesar off his own bowling - the Northants man looking surprised to have pouched the ball in his big hands - before another inspired Pietersen bowling change brought instant reward.

Flintoff immediately came on at the other end, and a back-of-a-length loosener was met too soon by Tendulkar who gave the big-hearted all-rounder an easy chance as England converted two significant caught-and-bowleds in as many overs.

Though he had India's top score of 37, Tendulkar and his team knew that it was nowhere near enough.

Flintoff continued to probe away, asking plenty of questions of Dhoni and Yuvraj, and the two naturally aggressive batsmen added some desperately needed runs.

However, with 10 minutes left in the day, another Pietersen bowling change paid off a treat - Yuvraj driving loosely and edging Harmison to second slip.

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see also
Swann revels in dream Test debut
12 Dec 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
12 Dec 08 |  England
India v England day two photos
12 Dec 08 |  England
England falter after Strauss ton
11 Dec 08 |  England
The making of Monty
10 Dec 08 |  England
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket


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