FIRST TEST, Chennai (day three, stumps):
India 241 v England 316 & 172-3
Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood batted England into a wonderful position with two days remaining in the first Test against India in Chennai.
Strauss, a centurion in the first innings, was 73 and Collingwood 60 in an unbroken 129 for the fourth wicket.
After India had been dismissed for 241 immediately after lunch, England held a lead of 75, but quickly plunged into trouble at 48-3 in their second dig.
But they recovered magnificently to reach 172-3 for a lead of 247.
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1140: So, another cracking day's play, and one that sees England assume a position almost as good as lying with your feet up, stomach full, and a glass of wine in hand on Christmas Day. They'll start day three 247 runs ahead with seven wickets in hand and, given the highest successful run chase in Tests on this ground is 155, you have to say they're on course for victory as it stands. Mark Mitchener will be in the commentary chair for the last two days and, frankly, if England don't win it's his fault. Thanks you lot, you're all legends.
"All credit to Kevin Pietersen's side - they've shown just how resourceful they can be and this is turning into a match-winning total, for sure."
Angus Fraser on TMS
ENGLAND SECOND INNINGS
1133 - England 172-3 - STUMPS
Mishra with the last over before close - Collingwood inside-edges one past his stumps for a couple (cue sigh of relief) and then prods a single to midwicket, before Strauss rolls another single. Close! Collingwood goes back to the final ball of the day and it raps him on the pads, but even though it was going to hit, it was pitching just outside leg (cue another sigh of relief).
1127 - England 168-3
Still only minimal turn for Bhaji and Collingwood works a couple to midwicket before pinching a swept single. And huzzah! Strains of 'Jerusalem' - the finest of hymms - ring out from the Barmy Army, and surprisingly in tune as well. Someone send that lot to Last Choir Standing. That ought to test Mylene Klass's rather spooky perma-smile.
1124 - England 165-3
A little moment of alarm as Strauss goes to hook a shorter one from Zaheer but misses - the left-hander appears a little rattled by the India seamer's tactic of keeping it wide outside off. Still, he regains composure to see out a maiden and I reckon we'll squeeze one two more overs in today.
1119 - England 165-3
Harbhajan is back bowling from the end that saw him get some extravagant bounce to remove Swann - but there are no such repeats in that over, Strauss and Collingwood sharing, guess what, a couple of singles and a two. Easy as you like.
"It's not so much slow motion cricket out there, it's still photograph stuff. Things have ground to a halt."
Simon Mann on TMS
1115 - England 161-3
India are well behind the over-rate but we'll only have another 15 or so minutes play. Zaheer continues and it's another maiden, England looking to see out the day and pick things up again in the morning.
1110 - England 161-3
Paul Collingwood, take a bow son. That's his half century - his 12th in Tests - as he skews an outside edge down through gully for four. It came off 120 balls, including six fours - what a fighter that man is.
1107 - England 156-3
Better over that from Zaheer, a maiden, but still no alarms for Paul 'Renaissance Man' Collingwood. Fyi, Strauss is unbeaten now on 70, Colly 47.
1102 - England 156-3
This really is all rather comfortable for England at the moment and you almost get the feeling that this pair haven't so much taken the stuffing out of India, as ripped it out, stamped on it a few times, and then buried it under six feet of dirt. Two more singles from the over and Strauss and Collingwood are making hay while the sun, erm, sets.
1059 - England 154-3
Five more runs come from Zaheer's over, four courtesy of leg byes as Zaheer strays off line to Collingwood.
1056 - England 149-3
I think it's fair to say this partnership won't be making it onto any cricket 'highlights' dvds this Christmas - even the England balcony look like they are being forced to sit through the entire back series of 'My Family'. Still, three singles from Sehwag's over and England's lead is now 224 runs.
1052 - England 146-3
Zaheer Khan returns to the attack but India look almost as if they are resigned to this stand seeing out the day now. Which has clearly jinxed it, sorry. Anyway, two from the over. Meanwhile, a span of the England fans in the crowd reveals possibly the strangest looking collection of humans seen since kicking out time at my local Lidl last weekend. Barmy Army!
"Colly making me eat my words, it's S Africa all over again! But I still find myself asking the question, does the occasional gritty batting performance justify his continued selection in front of Shah? Or does this spell time on the 'bench' for Bell?"
Pierredelafranchesca on 606
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1041 - England 144-3
Sehwag continues but Strauss and Colly go about their business, picking up the ones and twos, and a clip from the opener down to third man brings up the pair's century stand. Given Collingwood's form going into this innings that's a cracking effort, and he has more than played his part in a pugnacious partnership. Critics across the globe - myself included - will be eating dinner with a side order of humble pie later, I suspect. Still, at least I won't have to endure an ice bath.
1037 - England 140-3
A couple of leg byes to start the over, before Collingwood leaps on one that is slightly overpitched to spank Sharma through the covers for a lovely four.
"Yes, but the thing with ice baths Simon, is that you generally have to have done something energetic before getting in one. Not sitting on your backside talking tosh all day."
Angus Fraser and Simon Hughes discuss the benefits of an ice bath on TMS
1033 - England 134-3
Sehwag is getting a bit of turn out there and he goes up for an lbw appeal when he raps Collingwood on the pads early in the over. However, with Colly about a foot outside off stump, it was only slightly less optimistic than Bangladesh fans buying tickets for the fifth day of a Test match against Australia. Three from the over.
1030 - England 131-3
If I had a penny for every time I've written this over the past three days - just a single off that over - I'd have about enough to buy, erm, just shy of half a litre of petrol. Maybe. Anyway, that's what happened from a regulation Sharma over.
1024 - England 130-3
Dhoni runs out of patience with Amit Mishra and calls on the occasional off-spin of Virender Sehwag. The crowd awake from their afternoon slumber in anticipation of watching the partnership-breaker in action, only to witness Strauss pounce on a long-hop and kerplunk it to the boundary on the pull. Slowly, the home fans sink back into their seats...
1020 - England 125-3
Collingwood pokes Sharma to cover for a single and that's the 200 lead.
"Before tea the talk might have been that the pitch has some real demons in it and so anything over 200 would trouble India, but in the last hour it looks flat as a pancake and you start to wonder just what England will need. The pitch certainly isn't falling apart..."
Angus Fraser on TMS
1015 - England 124-3
Just a single off that Mishra over, but England untroubled and looking comfortable.
1011 - England 123-3
Sharma is brought back into the action with Mishra and Harbhajan extracting minimal spin from the pitch - which one minute looks like a featherbed, the next a minefield - and Strauss clips him beautifully off his pads for a couple and then a single.
1006 - England 121-3
Tonk-tastic as Collingwood lofts Mishra high over the infielders and away for a one-bounce four - although it did evade Yuvraj running round from long-on by a matter of mere inches - before guiding it down to third man for a three. Strauss then guides it behind square on the off-side for another three and England begin to press their foot down on the accelerator, their lead now 196 runs.
1002 - England 111-3
Dhoni tries to mix things up by placing four catchers around the bat of Paul Collingwood - but it matters not as he and Strauss add three more singles to the total.
0958 - England 108-3
Cracking, cracking effort this from Andrew Strauss, the opener crashing a beautiful cut shot off Mishra to the boundary to bring up his 15th Test half-century and he is responsbile for more than a third of all England's runs so far in this match - brilliant stuff. Paul Collingwood, meanwhile, gets in on the act by clipping over deep mid-on for a delightful four. Is the ginger ninja working his way into form ala the Edgbaston Test v South Africa earlier this year?
0954 - England 98-3
Dum de dum... a Strauss single marks another relatively harmless Bhaji over.
0950 - England 97-3
A single apiece from Collingwood and Strauss with the only noteworthy thing to mention from the over yet another grapple over the position the sightscreen - which has probably cost us a good 10-20 minutes or so already today. Frustrating.
"Only a team like England can lose a match from here and only a team like India can win a match from here..."
jessishere on 606
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0945 - England 95-3
A couple of singles from that Harbhajan over and that is now the 50 partnership between these two - invaluable and credit in no small part to the battler of all battlers Paul Collingwood.
0942: By the way, slight delay at the moment as Dhoni receives some treatment on a finger injury, but it doesn't look serious. The sort of thing you'd treat with a lollipop and no more if it were a child. Get on with it, son.
0938 - England 92-3
Well, all of a sudden Zaheer is all over the place, spraying one down Collingwood's leg for a bye, and then one down Strauss's legside for four more.
0932 - England 87-3
My word, if England come through this Test as winners they will owe a huge thanks to Andrew Strauss, who is playing his own game, at his own pace, and it is working beautifully. Having pinched one and twos for a good hour, he goes down on one knee and crunches Bhaji to the boundary rope on the sweep to edge nearer his half-century and push England's lead to 162 runs.
0928 - England 80-3
Such is the nature of this match and the swings and roundabouts that have so far typified it, Strauss and Collingwood's stand - it stands at 37 now - may just be prompting a rethink from Dhoni. A couple of singles tick the scoreboard over and, dare I say it, it is looking a touch more comfortable for this pair again.
"Collingwood looked desperately out of touch in the first innings and, to be honest, he's only looking marginally better so far in this. But my word is he battling, he really is."
Vic Marks on TMS
0923 - England 78-3
It may not be explosive but this is exactly what Collingwood and Strauss need to do right now - keep it tight and pick off the ones and twos, just as the latter, Cook and Prior did in the first innings. Four off that over and England's lead passes 150.
0918 - England 74-3
Erm, see the last over's update. Shots of the Barmy Army filter through and they seem to be having a wail of a time - and why the devil not. One can only assume the laughing juice is in full flow as well. Not that I'm jealous, oh no.
0914 - England 73-3
Quiet over from Bhaji as England look to play themselves back in after tea, just a Strauss single from it.
"For all Colly's 'flailing about like a blindfolded kid' he's still got more runs than Cook, Bell and KP. There's a lot to be said for scratching about."
RetroGirl on 606
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0910 - England 72-3
Zaheer got some good swing after tea on the first day and he is tasked with doing so again, Collingwood on guard. Not much that I can see here, but then I am about 5,000 miles away. Colly looking a little more solid than before tea and he clips a couple off the last ball to extend England's lead to 147 runs.
0904 - England 70-3
Strauss sweeps for a couple but it is a probing over from Bhaji and there's definitely good turn and bounce on this pitch on occasion.
0859: The players are striding out, the sun is shining, and this match is moving on apace. Harbhajan to take the first over after tea.
0841 - England 68-3 - TEA
Zaheer with the last over before lunch and it seems as if he has overdosed on his energy drink on the outfield because he is all aggression and in-your-face-chat to Strauss, who smiles, shrugs and decides to leave well alone to all but one which is stopped well in the slip cordon and another that he clips off his pads for a single. That's tea, England lead by 143 with seven wickets in hand, and I think we could all do with a breather couldn't we? What a Test match...
0835 - England 67-3
Bit wild and weary from Bhaji as he allows Strauss and Colly some easy singles and England are ticking down a bit until tea you feel. Can they get there just three down?
"I thought initially Collingwood was picking the spinners, especially Mishra, but I'm not sure he is actually, he's really scratching about."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS
0832 - England 64-3
Another Strauss single precedes five deliveries of Collingwood flailing about like a blindfolded kid trying to pin the tail on the donkey.
0829 - England 63-3
Harbhajan into the attack and while Strauss works the singles, Collingwood looks to swipe the spinner to row Z, succeeding only in extracting frustrated groans from the home fielders when he swashes at thin air.
0825 - England 62-3
Bless 'im - Collingwood is looking more dodgy than a Del Boy lookalike at Prime Minister's Question Time at the moment. He takes a step at Mishra, pulls out of the shot, and spoons a bizarre thick-edge over the bowler's head and safe. A bit better last ball, though, as he follows through on a similar stroke and it bounces a couple of times before going for four. Is he trying to hammer his way back into form? It could work...
0819 - England 55-3
Collingwood - has a man ever been more desperate for runs? - shows a welcome touch of class as he gets on the back foot and cuts past point for a crucial boundary. By the way, this is the first time in a Test Pietersen has been out for single figures in both innings. Suffice to say his place is a smidgen more assured than Colly's right now, though.
"Just got back from a great afternoon at the beach on Auckland's North Shore, and thought you might like to know that Billy Bowden lives three doors down from us. The other week he spent ages very meticulously raking, sowing then watering a two foot square patch of new lawn fronting onto the road, then marking it off with string. He has a sponsored car (rather small) with his name and a logo of a crooked finger on the side. Wonder if it's worth tapping him up for Ashes tickets?"
Richard, Auckland via the TMS inbox
0815 - England 48-3
Dropped! Well well well, how a match can turn around in a matter of minutes - England could be four down as Strauss edges Mishra behind only for Dhoni to spill a tough chance and that's a let off. Strauss replies with a dreamy cover drive for four, but India appeal next ball for caught at short leg - it missed Strauss's bat by a matter of millimetres. All of a sudden, the ball is turning sideways.
"Great Test match, so many twists."
Voortrekker69 on 606
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0807 - WICKET! Pietersen lbw b Yuvraj 1, England 43-3
Unbelievable! With Kevin Pietersen at the crease, Dhoni immediately brings back the England skipper's nemesis Yuvraj Singh, and the bowler strikes straight away, KP missing a decent - but utterly regulation delivery - and he is plumb lbw. Yuvraj really does have the Indian sign (boom boom!) over Pietersen at the moment. Collingwood sees out the over.
0802 - WICKET! Bell c Gambhir b Mishra 7, England 42-2
Ian Bell fails again, bat-padding to Gambhir at short leg after a Mishra googly bounces more than expected and the Warwickshire batsman walks. It comes after Strauss picks up a three with a lovely push to deep cover - the Middlesex opener is still looking in good touch. Kevin Pietersen comes to the crease with England's lead at 117 - and only a thin inside-edge prevents him falling lbw two balls later. He snatches a single to get off the mark but these are nervy times for the tourists. England 43-2
0800 - England 39-1
Good running between Bell and Strauss as a push to square leg earns the former two runs. Three more singles add to the score and Dhoni has already resorted to just the one slip with Rahul Dravid - one catch behind the record number by a non-wicketkeeper in Test matches - banished to the third man boundary. Ouch.
0756 - England 34-1
Decent over from Mishra as Strauss pinches a single and Bell sees out the rest without alarm. TMS is back live on the airwaves! Come on then, who do we reckon sat on the connection lead?
0752: The excitement's got a little too much for TMS as radio coverage loses its line to Chennai. Fear not - I'll keep you updated on the first Test here and will let you know when the TMS boys and girls are back online.
"That's a bit annoying, Cook's been caught in every dismissal since New Zealand series now I think. Here comes Belly, lets a have a good one. Silence the critics please."
wombletiltheend on 606
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0746 - WICKET! Cook c Dhoni b Sharma 9, England 28-1
Sharma strikes! A couple of balls after Strauss picks up a boundary in fortunate fashion when his attempted leave clips the ball down to third man, Alastair Cook pushes defensively at one from Sharma that straightens a little and edges a thin nick behind to Dhoni with England's lead at 103. Ian Bell gets off the mark with a neatly controlled steer to gully for four. England 33-1
0743 - England 22-0
Dhoni has seen enough of seam for now as he deploys Amit Mishra, prompting Strauss to take an ugly hoik-sweep second ball, top-edging over short leg and away for a single. Cook also pinches a single.
0738 - England 20-0
Someone send out a search party - Sharma's completely lost his run up, two more no-balls in that over. Aggers, meanwhile, is reading out a message from the local constabulary on TMS detailing very specifically what security and police efforts have been made for this match. I won't repeat it because, frankly, it was almost as dull as counting the atoms in a ping-pong ball, but suffice to say the effort has been massive.
0731 - England 18-0
With absolutely no swing and very little assistance off the pitch, Zaheer opts to continue with his short-pitched attack and, after a wide is called on one, Cook rolls his wrists delightfully over another and kerplunks it to the boundary - England's first of the innings.
0726 - England 12-0
Well, Sharma's doing his bit to edge England ever nearer a big second-innings lead by gifting the tourists three - massive - no-balls, maybe as a result of trying his hand round the wicket to Strauss. He finishes with a decent in-swinger but Strauss plays it well and Sharma's nine-ball, eight-minute over finally comes to an end.
"India absolutely have to keep their run chase under 300, otherwise, barring something sensational, they will almost certainly come up short."
Sunil Gavaskar on TMS
0718 - England 9-0
Anything Cook can do, Strauss can, erm, do too as he tucks a couple to deep midwicket exactly as his partner did in the last over. He then grabs a single and it is fair to say this start is more sedate than a student who has just realised his early morning alarm has gone off half hour early.
0715 - England 6-0
First runs off the bat for Alastair Cook as he tucks a couple to deep midwicket.
0710 - England 4-0
Zaheer pings one in short at Strauss but it's way too high and is given as a wide - the first of the match - and that's it as Strauss and Cook continue to play it safe. The longer this pair stay together the better. By the way, as Moutarde points out on 606, the highest run chase on this ground is 155 - by India against Australia in 2001, and that was for the loss of eight wickets. Suddenly a lead of over 200 seems gargantuan doesn't it? That said - in 1986, India needed 348 to beat Australia but were bowled out for 347 and the match was tied. I'd love that to happen here, purely from a neutral point of view.
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"I wonder if the fact England have five frontline bowlers while India only have four will prove important come the end of this match."
Simon Hughes on TMS
0704 - England 3-0
Ishant Sharma will share the new ball but, as yet, no great demons in this pitch which is good news for England - for now anyway. A no-ball and leg-bye add to England's total.
0659 - England 1-0
Strauss leaves the first couple alone before dabbing off his hips for England's first second-innings run. Simon Mann and Angus Fraser on TMS reckon England will be on around 140-150 by the end of the day - a lead of 220-odd - it's just a question of how many wickets down they'll be. Hhmm.
"I wonder if that's the talk reverberating around the streets of Chennai - 'Quick, get down to the ground, Strauss and Cook are in!'"
Angus Fraser on TMS
0654: Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook stride out to the middle - another 118 opening stand wouldn't go amiss boys - and the oh-so dangerous Zaheer Khan will take the first over. Here we go...
INDIA FIRST INNINGS
0643 - WICKET! Mishra b Flintoff 12, India 241 all out
Bosh! And that is how it is done. Full, straight and Amit Mishra has no answer as Flintoff rips out his middle pole with his fourth ball after lunch. Exactly what England will have wanted - they lead by 75 and I think they will have settled for that. By the way, even by my lofty standards, johnm13 (below) has taken the jinx biscuit there...
"Just walked home from the library in this bristling Canadian winter... good to see India are still living :D Though it seems like i keep jinxing them..."
johnm13 on 606
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"England have just got to break this partnership - if India get to within 50 or lower and then England lose one or two early wickets in their second innings, this match will be very much in the balance."
Angus Fraser on TMS
0638: Right then, we're a couple of minutes from the restart and my bet is Flintoff and Panesar will be tasked with cleaning up this last wicket. I wonder if England and India's lunchbreak was more eventful than mine - there's not a huge amount to do in the early hours of the morning around BBC TV Centre. Unless you count mischievously messing with the seating arrangements in the Strictly Come Dancing studios. Not that I did that, obviously.
0601 - India 241-9 - LUNCH
James Anderson gets his first bowl of the day with the last over before lunch and it's a decent enough over - but fruitless. Sharma stands his ground well and India go into lunch on 241-9, 75 runs behind. This is shaping up to be a bit of a stormer isn't it? I'm off for a listen to some Christmas classics with a mince pie, back in 40 or so. In the meantime, get the missives in - it's all gone a bit quiet!
"I watched a lot of the India-Australia series and the Aussies often got Sharma with the bowler going round the wicket (or in Mitchell Johnson's case over the wicket) and digging one into his ribs. Sharma looked pretty clueless."
etienne123 on 606
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0557 - India 239-9
India eke their first-innings deficit nearer the 50 mark as Sharma and Mishra deal with Flintoff admirably, pinching ones and twos to tick the scoreboard over and, in a low scoring match such as this, a partnership such as this could be crucial.
"This really is marvellous. After all the turmoil of recent weeks we were all hoping for a fabulous Test and this is living up to it and more. All of a sudden everyone is absorbed in the game of cricket itself, we haven't even mentioned Reg Dickason for 24 hours, and that is exactly what everyone in - and out of - India wanted."
Vic Marks on TMS
0551 - India 234-9
Sharma certainly doesn't look a mug with the bat and he and Mishra bat sensibly enough to Panesar to take four off the over. England can't afford to take their foot off the pedal here.
0548 - India 230-9
Flintoff continues and Mishra skews an outside edge low through the slips for four. A couple more singles edge India ever closer to England's total.
"That will do Panesar the world of good - he hasn't played for a long, long time and there has been a suspicion that he has been in a bit of a trough and come in for a bit of criticism, but I actually think he's bowled OK today."
Vic Marks on TMS
The making of Monty
0539 - WICKET! Dhoni c Pietersen b Panesar 53, India 219-9
Well, we all wondered how Dhoni might play with the tail but - unlike Matt Prior for England yesterday - he shows he has no faith in them at all and pays the price immediately, going for a wild hoik at Panesar and succeeding only in spooning it straight into the grateful hands of Kevin Pietersen at deep mid-off. Oops. Mishra responds by thwacking Panesar for a one-bounce four - making Dhoni's hoik all the more bemusing - before England optimistically claim a catch at slip, the ball coming off Mishra's thigh. India 224-9
0534 - WICKET! Zaheer lbw Flintoff 1, India 217-8
Cracking work, again, from KP. Dhoni takes the easy single and Flintoff - restored to the attack with Zaheer at the crease - immediately nips him out with one that jagged back in and the no.8 is plumb in front of middle. Amit Mishra comes to the crease - apparently he has nine half-centuries in first-class cricket, so he's no mug. Two leg byes end the over after Freddie twice beats his bat. India 219-8
0530 - India 216-7
Just a single for Dhoni off another accurate Panesar over. England looking to allow Dhoni the easy one and then packing men round the bat for Zaheer - a dangerous tactic maybe?
0525 - India 215-7
Mahendra Dhoni pinches a single off Swann to bring up his 50 off 77 balls, including 5 fours in 145 mins, and Zaheer does the same to get off the mark. Three off the over.
"Billy making a game of it by denying the plumbest of LBWs there."
Moutarde on 606
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0517 - WICKET! Harbhajan c Bell b Panesar 40, India 212-7
Huzzah! Breakthrough for England at last and it is Panesar who ends Harbhajan Singh's resolute innings, inducing the edge onto the batsman's pads and Ian Bell snaring a smart, diving catch at short leg. Oh and it should be two in two, Panesar rapping Zaheer Khan in front only for his frenzied appeal to be denied by Bowden. Hawkeye suggests it was hitting middle halfway up and it struck Zaheer directly in line - big let-off.
0516 - India 212-6
Swann belatedly gets his second over of the day, but it's rather less troublesome than his first and Dhoni and Harbhajan work four singles.
"Re: The post at 0330. Stop the Cavalry is the best Christmas song by a country mile, isn't it? And yes, that does include Fairytale of New York, which is good, but severely lacking in trumpet solos."
David W via the TMS inbox
0511 - India 208-6
Quite a few of the England fielders' energy levels resemble that of your dad's after Christmas dinner at the moment and Dhoni and Harbhajan are beginning to pick the gaps easily. One such clip sees Dhoni advance and clip Panesar away through midwicket for three to make it six off the first five balls - but the India skipper turns his ankle on the run and has to receive lengthy treatment from the physios. Can England take the opportunity to get themselves together?
"India are still not out of the woods by any stretch - they still trail by 114 runs and so Dhoni and Harbhajan have to keep their wits about them."
Sunil Gavaskar on TMS
"I know they can't exactly be match-fit under the circumstances but that's a pretty disappointing hour from England. Harmison, in particular, looks well off pace."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS
0459 - India 202-6
If you're going to flash, flash hard and Harbhajan skews a flashy drive off the edge and over the slips for another flukey four. A little more othordox next up as he cuts a wide one away for four next up and he then digs out a decent yorker to get off strike, Dhoni makes it 10 off that over from Harmison - who returned after just the one over from Swann - and India are past 200.
0454 - India 193-6
Better from Monty, extracting a bit of bounce and beating Bhaji's attempted drive, but still this India pair look relatively comfortable. Again, one off the over.
0450 - India 192-6
Super-Swann returns to the attack for the first time today - and immediately he looks more dangerous than the three to precede him. He twice yelps when Harbhajan pads up to him, the second appeal only denied by an inside-edge that saves the India batsman, and it's just the single off the over.
"Three cops in a car in Berkshire here. With no radio. Just an internet phone and the Beeb. Keep up the good work."
Dave, Gary and Dusty via the TMS inbox
(People of Berkshire - these men are manning your streets, beware)
"Harmison's action just doesn't look quite right today, he's falling away and pushing the ball back and down the leg side far too often."
Angus Fraser on TMS
0447 - India 191-6
Not the greatest of overs from Harmison, aside from a brute of a bouncer that Bhaji misreads and wears on the bicep, and England have been off the boil so far this morning. A couple of singles from the over and Harmison retreats to the dressing room. Hhmm.
0441 - India 189-6
Panesar can't help but allow himself a wry smile as Bhaji goes for a wild reverse sweep and gloves it over Collingwood at wide slip and away for four, bringing up this pair's 50 partnership off 66 balls.
"Don't mention Christmas shopping. I'm hoping to start and finish mine tomorrow. Ambitious? Im also predicting an England win so I'd say ambitious is an understatement."
Will in London via the TMS inbox
0438 - India 184-6
Harmison - who has been stumbling around the outfield like a student making his way out of a £1-a-drink quiz night - is brought onto bowl and suddenly he looks Lazarus sprung from the ashes. Still, it's a bit wayward, Prior failing to stop a wayward leg-side delivery that goes away for a single but the keeper then taking a fabulous catch on the dive down leg - England claim a catch - Billy Bowden says it came off Bhaji's thigh pad. Close again.
0432 - India 181-6
Close! Dhoni prods tentatively at Panesar and a thick edge drops inches short of Ian Bell at short leg. Bhaji then goes on the attack, sweeping well for four before looping one of his gloves just over Bell with the same shot. India certainly looking to get runs on the board, here, rather than protecting their wickets.
0428 - India 174-6
India continue to tick along, adding another Freddie no-ball and then a single to the total and there's a distinct lack of England zip so far this morning. Flintoff leaves the field for some reason - it could be a Billy Bowden-esque dash to the little boys room - and KP might start thinking about mixing up his attack.
"Paul in Lancsh below sounds like Shteve McClaren with his new Dutch accent."
welcome dimitar on 606
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"Oh the joy of being made redundant - two days of reading blogs - listening to TMS - nipping to watch the telly at a fall of wicket and not bothered about the time of day. On top of that England doing well - Christmas shopping done - and my first ever contribution to the live text. Can life get any better??"
Bernard in Bexleyheath (sorry its not somewere exotic) via the TMS inbox
(You've finished your Christmas shopping? That's, like, against the spirit of the season isn't it? You're going to miss the fun of a mad dash on Christmas Eve!)
0421 - India 172-6
Bhaji takes a minute to replace a contact lens but he continues in reserved mode on the resumption, prodding Panesar off his hips for a single, allowing Dhoni to punch square for another couple. A single to finish the over and this is a good start to the day from India.
0417 - India 168-6
First moment of concern for India as Harbhajan, who has been really quite reserved thus far, flays at a wide-ish one from Flintoff but misses by a couple of inches. Harmison relieves the pressure on the no.7, though, with the simplest of misfields and Dhoni then gloves a shorter one on the pull behind square for four.
"'Ere Sam, I'm jusht back from my Chrishtmash do, a do-be-do-be-do. It wash brilliant. Whatsa score? Are we winnin'. Lishten Sam, you're alright, you. I really like you, I mean, I really really like you. In fact, youre my besht mate, You an' Jamie in Shouthamption , he'sh great, he is. Oh, sat on me kebab. Engerland, Engerland."
Paul in Lancsh via the TMS inbox
(Paul, you always make me laugh, but I'm giggling like a schoolgirl at that. Well bowled sir)
0412 - India 163-6
Harbhajan pinches his first run of the day with a nudge to leg off Panesar, while Dhoni forces through the covers for a couple two balls later. No alarms at all so far for the hosts, but it is really rather dark out there. No rain is forecast today, just poor visibility fyi.
0408 - India 160-6
India's first run of the day comes from a Flintoff no-ball first up, and Dhoni then punches Freddie through square, getting on top of the bounce well, to bring up India's first boundary off the bat. Apparently Flintoff is "the only England bowler" he is afraid of. Big words, but can he back 'em up?
"Word from the middle, by the way, is that the pitch is definitely turning BUT it is certainly not breaking up anywhere near as much as perhaps they thought it would. That might hinder England's hopes of skittling India this morning."
Vic Marks on TMS
0402 - India 155-6
Accurate enough from Monty Panesar, regulation drift and spin, and Harbhajan defends stoutly to play out a maiden. Grievous bodily Harmison has been doing his warm-ups in the outfield... but it will be Flintoff to take the second over. Maybe Harmison is still flexing that knee that he jarred yesterday.
0359: We're about to go, Panesar the man with the ball in his hands...
"Just got in from a night out and it's pouring it down with rain - let's hope the weather is better in Chennai and England can ram home their advantage!"
Jamie, Southampton via text
0352: So, according to our TMS boys in Chennai, the clouds have rolled over the M.A.Chidambaram Stadium - will that help swing? James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff, in particular, will hope so. That said, if Freddie can repeat the intensity and aggression he showed in that magnificent spell late on yesterday, swing or no swing Dhoni and Bhaji are in for a tougher time than an eskimo in a heatwave.
"India will resume under cloudy skies this morning out in Chennai but I don't think England will be too unhappy with that..."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS
"Paola and Oli await with baited breath in Chile for England to keep up appearances in India. Huzzah, it's 1am and we are in for the long haul..."
Oli Yates via the TMS inbox
0341: Lest we forget, India resume on 155-6 with Mahendra Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh at the crease, England still leading by 161 runs. Can England wrap up the home innings by lunch or will Dhoni and Bhaji lead an Indian fightback? We're all about to see...
0335: ...and YOU of course. No pressure but yesterday 606, the text hotline and my inbox were flooded with cracking missives and banter from all things cricket to mixed metaphors. I'm expecting more of the same please, you legends, so get in touch as always via email to email@example.com, text on 81111 or on 606.
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0330: I tell you what, that wasn't a bad day's cricket yesterday was it? Just as we thought England were going to stick to type and throw away a decent position in a Test match they turned it right on its head and now it's India who are on the back foot. Still, I guess there's plenty of time for all that to change... Wait! No! Optimism baby! I am genuinely in THE best mood this morning - partly helped by the fact Jona Lewie's 'Stop the Cavalry' was on the radio in the cab on the way into the office probably - so who better to add to my festive cheer than the boys in Chennai? England, it's over to you...