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Page last updated at 09:07 GMT, Saturday, 20 December 2008

India v England: 2nd Test day two as it happened

SECOND TEST, Mohali (day two, close):
India 453 v England 0-0

Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid shared 314, a record second-wicket stand for India against England, as the hosts made 453 on day two of the final Test.

The dominant partnership guided India to a formidable 320-1 after lunch.

England responded with four wickets for 19 in 11 overs, Graeme Swann (3-122) and Andrew Flintoff impressing.

Flintoff deservedly wrapped up the innings to finish with 3-54 and England were unable to begin their reply as bad light ended proceedings for the day.

LATEST ACTION (ALL TIMES GMT)

By Ben Dirs

606: DEBATE
e-mail tms@bbc.co.uk (with 'For Ben Dirs' in the subject), text 81111 (with "CRICKET" as the first word) or use 606. (Not all contributions can be used)

ENGLAND FIRST INNINGS

Day three's play is due to start at 0330 GMT on Sunday

Bad light stops play
1109: That's what we need Sarah, the Bulldog Spirit. Here come the players... and off they go again... with all the players in the middle, the umpires offer the light and Strauss and Cook turn on their heels and disappear back into the pavilion. And that, ladies and gents, looks like being that. That game in Perth is set for a grandstand finish - South Africa are 227-3 at stumps on day four, needing 187 to win on the final day. Kallis is unbeaten on 33. He's been accused in the past of not getting the big runs when they matter - now's his chance. Back to England, it's been a very gritty effort today. Whether they can grind out a draw on a disintegrating pitch is another matter. Sunny in Mohali! And Cook has just strolled off for a net. Odd. Anyway, women darts players - what are your thoughts about that?

INDIA FIRST INNINGS

"Blimey, it took us long enough. What's the betting we'll lose some early wickets and have to follow on by lunch-time tomorrow?"
Sarah, Bucks, in the TMS inbox

Wicket falls
1052 - WICKET - Mishra b Flintoff 23 (Ind 453 all out)
Freddie's mopped them up - Mishra backs away and gets his timbers rearranged. It must be said that that was a pretty good bowling performance from England. Every one of them stuck to their task, nobody's head went down, and they were all still smiling at the end. But these final few overs will be an anxious time for England's openers Cook and Strauss.

Vic Marks
"All in all it's been a heart-warming performance from England which is not really reflected by the scoreboard."
Vic Marks on TMS

1050 - 453-9 Swann really giving it some air, but Sharma's not tempted. Swann then sends down a bona fide grenade - that ball was less than 50mph - and still Sharma doesn't have a dart at it. That was a decent lbw shout actually, but Umpire Harper turns him down again.

1046 - 453-9 Sharma gets off the mark with a nurdle to leg for one off Flintoff. Freddie really looks to be enjoying his bowling today, which is very encouraging to see. Again Mishra looks to nick a quick single off his bowling, but Freddie, with a funny little smile on his face, herds the little man back into his crease like a giant sheepdog. Mishra goes for a smear, is beaten and the ball beats Prio and races to the long-leg fence for four.

1041 - 447-9 Mishra is a funny little cricketer - he looks to reverse sweep Swann and misses before straightening himself and composing himself in a rather exaggerated manner, like a precocious toddler. He picks up a run to long-on, before the cameraman goes cherry picking handsome Indian ladies among the Mohali crowd.

Wicket falls
1035 - WICKET - Zaheer b Flintoff 7 (Ind 446-9)
Freddie's switched ends and here he comes barrelling in Zaheer Khan... big appeal for lbw, but Umpire Rauf decides, rightly, that it was going over. But Freddie's got his man, Zaheer looking to drive off the back foot into the covers and chopping on to his leg stump. Just reward for Flintoff, who's looked in tremendous fettle in this match. Sharma is India's number 11, and he plays out the final three balls of the over pretty comfortably. Wicket-maiden for Flintoff, 2-52 from 29 overs.

1032 - 446-8 Nice nudge to square-leg by Mishra for one before Zaheer guides Swann wide of slip for a single. Mishra goes for the big heave-ho and misses, but does muscle him to long-on for a single. Zaheer steals the strike with a dab to mid-wicket.

1029 - 442-8 Zaheer goes for some biff, baff, boff outside off and is beaten by Anderson. Anderson gets one to drift back in to Zaheer, but the right-hander keeps it out.

1024 - 442-8 Mishra moves to 15 with a clip off his thigh for two. That's a very impish stroke from Mishra, upper-cutting him over Collingwood at slip for four. Mishra nurdles to leg and thinks about taking a single, but Freddie puts his considerable frame in his path and dares him to pass. Mishra declines the offer.

1018 - 436-8 Zaheer leans back and thrashes Anderson through the covers for four before dropping into the off-side and nicking one. Big Fred is going to have another burst.

Angus Fraser
"Botham was once having an argument with a sommelier about what he thought was a corked bottle of wine, and at one point turned round and said, 'how many wickets have you got?' And I thought, 'what's that got to do with anything?'"
Gus Fraser on TMS inbox

1015 - 430-8 Mishra's not a big man but he can give it some hammer - he drops to one knee and clatters Monty over long-off for a steepling six. Not bad for a number 10. Mishra leans back and lashes Monty over cover-point for two more. Mishra drives Panesar's final ball into the covers, where Flintoff looks like he's got broom handles down his trouser legs, there was no getting down to that.

1009 - 420-8 I can report that Graeme Smith has been dismissed for 108 in Perth. Mitchell Johnson now has 10 wickets in the match, and he could well add a few more. Anderson digs one in to Mishra and the Indian spinner fends him away to fine-leg. That's a nice drive from Mishra, and a fine bit of fielding from Broad at mid-on. Just one for the shot.

Wicket falls
1002 - WICKET - Harbhajan c Swann b Panesar 24 (Ind 418-8)
Monty's picked up a second wicket. Harbhajan looks to clobber him over the top and only succeeds to plopping a catch to Swann at mid-off. Mishra is off the mark with a nurdle to mid-wicket. The umpires unveil their light meters, it's looking a bit murky out there.

Wicket falls
0956 - WICKET - Dhoni c Sub (Shah) b Anderson 29 (Ind 418-7)
Dhoni square-drives Anderson for four and notches another boundary.. BUT JIMMY'S GOT HIM! Dhoni, looking to get on top of the Lancashire paceman, charges down the track and yanks a drive straight to sub fielder Shah at mid-wicket. Sharp catch, just reward for Anderson.Carole, Maidenhead (see below), I've got a very dirty-looking Trinity Bendix microwave that's got Miss January written all over it. She has Ginster slices for breakfast, the filthy cow.

0954 - 410-6 Monty's done himself a mischiefplaying those jerky sweeps and he gets some treatment. Dhoni sweeps Swann and England appeal for a caught behind, but it flicked the batsman's trousers. Swann gets milked, three singles and a brace from Dhoni. Harbhajan goes to charge the final ball of the over, but checks his shot. South Africa are 163-1 in Perth chasing 414 to beat Australia. That's some game, still 19 overs left on day four, Graeme Smith's already got his ton. Is it OK to wish Graeme Smith well? Against Australia I think it's OK, like wanting Kim Jong-il to succeed if North Korea ever go to war against Zimbabwe.

0945 - 405-6 The pugnacious Harbhajan sashays down the track and clubs Swann over long-on for six before tickling him round the corner for a single. How irritating must Harbhajan be to play against? I'd wager he's to cricket what Matt Dawson was to rugby. And ballroom dancing. He's really riding his luck now, dropping to one knee and somehow sweeping Monty between his own legs and away for four. And another! That's a very cheeky shot, a fine sweep to long-leg.

"I have to report that my oven is now so clean that it could feature in a Environmental Health Officer's annual calendar - maybe as Miss December. You could imagine the images for the rest of the months."
Carole in Maidenhead in the TMS inbox

0938 - 388-6 Dhoni very watchful against Panesar... and he's very nearly taken! Monty locates the edge, the ball flies past Prior's gloves and the ball falls just short of Collingwood at slip. Dhoni gets another leading edge and this is encouraging for Monty... and India's spinners...

0935 - 386-6 Dhoni turns Swann away for a single before Harbhajan genuflects and smears Swann through mid-wicket for an ugly four. But that's a neater shot from the Indian spinner, paddling Swann to fine-leg for a couple.

"Pietersen's rib injury must be serious. Did you see the touchy feely skipper lift Monty up after getting Yuvraj out?"
Richard in the TMS inbox

Wicket falls
0929 - WICKET - Yuvraj c Prior b Panesar 27 (379-6)
Monty finally gets a wicket. Yuvraj looks to turn him into the leg-side, deflects the ball onto his pad and the ball balloons up for Prior to take a simpe catch. Monty almost takes his skipper's eye out with a high five before they fall into a loving embrace. England into the tail-end now, Harbhajan Singh the new batsman, and he survives the over.

0927 - 378-5 Panesar on the money, just a couple of singles form his over. But he's still not doing much with the ball. Dhoni moves to 13 with an angle to point off Swann, before Swann gets another past Yuvraj's defensive prod. Bit of width from Swann and Yuvraj reaches for it and shovels it through the covers for two.

"Is it just me, or are there other Englishmen out there cheering for Graeme Smith and feeling a bit odd about it?"
Andrew, Azerbaijan, in the TMS inbox

Simon Hughes
"Pietersen was setting the field and Panesar was bowling looseners to Stuart Broad at mid-off, he doesn't seem to engage with that part of the game..."
Simon Hughes on TMS

0919 - 372-5 The Barmy Army have suddenly sparked into life, but Yuvraj shuts them up - a full-bunger from Swann and the local boy marmalises him over deep mid-wicket for a monster six. That went straight into the confectionery stall... and out again. Every run Yuvraj gets will be a little stab to Alastair Cook's heart following that drop before lunch off the bowling of Flintoff.

0917 - 366-5 Yuvraj lunges forward to Monty's first delivery before sweeping him from a foot outside off-stump and away for four. Panesar drops short and Yuvraj flogs him through mid-wicket for a quick single.

0914 - 361-5 Swann gets one to turn and Dhoni plays uppishly off his pad into the leg-side. Still no sign of Monty, it's been a pretty miserable day for him so far, just three overs. But here he is!

0910 - 361-5 Still pretty light in Mohali, it looks like we might get a full day in. Dhoni still in his shell - six from 38 balls so far. I spoke too soon - cracking stroke, Dhoni standing tall and threading Broad through the covers for four. Broad strays onto Dhoni's pads and is flipped round the corner for a single.

Vic Marks
"Could MS Dhoni turn out to be the greatest wicketkeeper captain in the history of the game?"
Vic Marks on TMS

0906 - 356-5 Beaut of a delivery from Swann, the ball turning away from Yuvraj and beating his outside edge. Swann appeals belatedly for lbw, but Umpire Harper smiles and shrugs it off. That looked a pretty good shout, Hawk-Eye reckons that was hitting leg. Another fine over from Swann.

0903: Players are making their way to the middle, we'll have play in a moment. Talking of weird dreams, I dreamt the other night that Joe Calzaghe was fighting Ricky Hatton, I was in Calzaghe's corner and his trainer and dad Enzo kept slapping me in the face instead of Joe.

"If you need emails, ask your readers why I dreamt that whilst having a custom bat made the man tried to give it wheels."
JP still in bed in Paris in the TMS inbox

TEA

0843 - 356-5 Broad bowls the last over before tea and Dhoni takes no chances. England's session, no doubt about that. Four wickets for 54 runs, and it should have been worse, with Cook shelling an absolute dolly off Flintoff in the gully. Still, KP's men have something to work with.

0838 - 356-5 Dhoni flips Swann through the covers for three before Yuvraj is beaten trying to force Swann through the off-side. Yuvraj was very nearly cleaned up there. Feel a bit sorry for Monty, he's been stuck on the fence for most of this session. Surely Swanny's done enough to be picked ahead of Panesar for the West Indies series? Plus he bats, and can field.

0830 - 353-5 Dhoni sweeps and is struck on the pad, but that struck him outside the line. Another probing over from Swann. Broad is back into the attack, and doesn't Yuvraj like that - a bit of width and Yuvraj stands tall and twirls him through point for four. Otherwise it's a decent over from the Notts seamer, every ball in the corridor just outside the left-handed Yuvraj's off-stump.

"To Matt (see 0802) - don't buy the mother-in-law anything and you won't have to worry about being invited again."
Rick in Reading in the TMS inbox

0826 - 349-5 Swann keeps it tight, although Dhoni does pick up a couple with a steer to point from a full-toss. Yuvraj shoulders arms to Flintoff and the ball flies over his off-stump. Good leave. Freddie switches to over the wicket for his final delivery, but Yuvraj is happy to see Freddie off. Flintoff sinks forward with his hands on his knees at the end of the over, his face lobster red. That's him finished for the moment, and what a fine spell it's been - Yuvraj in particular will be glad to see him go.

"Hey Ben, don't you think Ravi Shastri sounds like he's a miner from South Wales doing an impression of Ravi Shastri?"
Dave Brewer in the TMS inbox

0819 - 347-5 Yuvraj very nearly scoops a catch to cover, and we've now had 25 balls without a run off the bat. This is a very slippery spell from Flintoff, almost every ball over 90mph. He's got Yuvraj hopping about his crease like a cat on a hot tin roof, and he hits the splice of Yuvraj's blade with the final ball of the over, but the ball falls just short of Cook at gully. Nineteen runs from the last 13 overs.

Angus Fraser
"You look at Flintoff's record and think that, for a man of his quality, he should have taken more wickets and five-wicket hauls. Maybe that's because he bowls too short and doesn't threaten the stumps enough."
Former England fast bowler Gus Fraser on TMS

0815 - 347-5 Swann sends down another solid over, he's giving Dhoni absolutely nothing at all. Matt (see below), I used to go out with a girl from Belfast, so I might be able to help. Northern Irish people are big fans of bread. Give the old dear soda bread, the sister wheaten bread, and splash out on the Doris and get her some Soreen.

0810 - 347-5 Dhoni goes for a big heave over mid-wicket but doesn't quite get hold of it. Dhoni looks like he means business, and Swann will like that. Cook's shelled a sitter at gully! Flintoff sends one down at 91mph and Yuvraj slices a back-foot drive, but the Essex man is unable to hang on to the ball at waist height. Flintoff looks sick. Cook cowers and looks sheepish, as if he's just been caught with his face in Freddie's jockstrap. Freddie sends down a very swift delivery that has Yuvraj jerking violently out of the line of fire.

0802 - 346-5 Cracking shot from Yuvraj, who stands tall and punches Swann through mid-wicket for four. Butch. Two more for Yuvraj with a drive into the covers before Swanny gets one to spin across the face of Yuvraj's bat. Ominous for England's batsmen. Freddie gets new batsman and India skipper Dhoni in his crosshairs. Dhoni gets a bumper which he helps round the corner for a single. Freddie really getting up a head of steam - the last ball of that over was 92mph. I can't remember him bowling that quick for some time.

"You asked for more emails. Can we do a deal? In return for sending you this, please can I get some suggestions for Christmas presents. In 96 hours, I fly to Northern Ireland for the first Christmas at home with my wife's family and all I have so far is a credit card with a just a bit more headroom before it is cut-up and the hope that someone out there has the ideal gift idea for a mother-in-law, my wife and her sister. I will let you work out how I am prioritising this."
Matt, London, in the TMS inbox

Wicket falls
0753 - WICKET - Laxman lbw b Flintoff 0 (Ind 339-4)
Yuvraj is the new batsmen and he's off the mark with a glance to fine-leg off Swann for a couple. Laxman looks to open the face and glide Flintoff to third-man, but he remains scoreless after 21 deliveries. SAY NIGHT NIGHT VVS! Flintoff gets one to jag back at Laxman and up goes Umpire Rauf's index finger. He had to think about that, Rauf, he looked like a man emerging from a coma. Four wickets since lunch, England fighting back.

Wicket falls
0746 - WICKET - Tendulkar lbw b Swann 11 (Ind 337-4)
Tendulkar's gone! Super bowling from Swanny - I like him, he's got balls - trapping Sachin, who was attempting the sweep, plumb in front. That's bigger than jungle, and jungle is massive.

"Screaming for something to discuss Ben? Then perhaps someone can explain why Freddie, always described as a 'wicket-taking bowler', never takes many wickets?"
Andrew Johnstone, France, in the TMS inbox

"I've just checked the scores and Sleepless (South Lancs) and myself have just passed the 300 emails mark, so we're certainly pulling our weight in the middle order. That's a record partnership for the County, and we remain unbeaten. Slap gloves, Sleepless?"
Paul in Lancs in the TMS inbox

0740 - 337-3 Freddie is back into the attack to replace the luckless Anderson. Tendulkar nurdles him to mid-wicket for one and Freddie can have a pop at the scoreless Laxman. Laxman pushes his first ball from Flintoff into the covers for no run and defends the second on the back foot. England not giving the new batsman anything. Tiger (see below) - is that you real name? Wish I was called Tiger and not Ben Dirs.

"If youngsters walked round the house wearing a helmet most of them would trip over and break their neck before they were old enough to play for a county's U13s and if you took the dog for a walk wearing it, well that's just social suicide. Nice idea Simon (see below) but utterly barking!"
Tiger in the TMS inbox

0734 - 336-3 Swann sends down a rare loose delivery and Tendulkar flogs him through point for four. Sachin turns Swann round the corner for a single - it's probably your washer, Neil - and Laxman is content to smother the rest of the over.

"Sitting in bed in the dark. Watching just the text as girlfriend still asleep. There are moments when I wonder why I am a cricket fan and this is one of those. I have a leaky tap in the bathroom. Anyone know how to fix it?"
Neil, Reading, in the TMS inbox

0731 - 331-1 Tendulkar is very nearly caught by Flintoff at short-midwicket, but the Lancashire all-rounder looked a little leaden-footed there and the ball falls just short. Anderson and Freddie exchange rueful grins, it's just not Jimmy's day. Tendulkar nurdles Anderson off his hip for a single. Laxman still not off the mark after 13 deliveries.

0725 - 330-3 Anderson tests new batsman Laxman out with a series of bumpers, all of which VVS duck underneath or evades with a sway. Tendulkar inside-edges Swann for a single, but Laxman is still not off the mark.

Wicket falls
0717 - WICKET - Dravid c Panesar b Swann 136 (Ind 329-3) Anderson serves up a bumper, which Tendulkar ducks underneath. Classic Tendulkar, opening the face and angling Anderson to third-man for a single. Where's Carole in Maidenhead? I'm a bit worried about her, she was so depressed yesterday she started talking about heads and ovens. Tendulkar tries to dab down to third-man and gets an inside-edge for a single. Swann still making things happen, that really revved back at the batsman. And he's got Dravid! Dravid goes for a loft over mid-on and only manages to spoon him to Monty at mid-off. Tired old shot from Dravid, but he's cemented his place in this Indian Test team for the foreseeable future. Swann's heart must have been in his mouth when he saw Panesar under that ball. If my life was at stake, I think I'd rather have the Venus de Milo under a catch than Monty.

"With family coming from England and Scotland later today, I'm glad I've got far much to do today than watch your commentary all morning, Ben, this is pitiful. But at least Pietersen is trying something different with Colly's dibblies. Now all he has to do is bowl himself."
Carol, Portugal, in the TMS inbox

0708 - 327-2 A short-leg in for Tendulkar and he turns the first ball from Swann's over into the leg-side for one. Dravid smothers the rest of Swann's over. Between them Dravid and Tendulkar have almost 23,000 Test runs and 67 Test centuries. Is that more than the whole England team put together? Someone have a look for me, I can't be bothered.

"To Paul from Lancs (just before lunch): thanks for the Baudrillard quote. Just what I needed for a paper I am writing. Give me a link to the actual text if you have one, or will I have to slog through the entire Lucidity Pact?"
Punkish in Madison, Wisconsin, where there is a foot of snow on the ground, so walking to the library is tough, in the TMS inbox

0704 - 326-2 Any danger of some emails? Anderson gets some movement in the air to Dravid, but Dravid dabs him to mid-wicket for a couple before back-cutting him for four. Elegant stroke, like being stabbed with a diamond-encrusted stiletto.

Wicket falls
0659 - WICKET - Gambhir c Cook b Swann 179 (Ind 320-2)
Gloria! Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Gambhir takes one risk too many and scoops a drive to Cook at backward-point. The partnership ends at 314, and that's just reward for Swann, he's actually bowled OK. India really on the rack now, here comes Tendulkar.

0654 - 319-1 Anderson angles one across Gambhir and the little left-hander wafts and misses. This partnership is now India's eighth highest for any wicket against all opposition. The highest ever is 413. Gambhir pulls Anderson to mid-wicket for two before carving the Lancashire paceman uppishly over cover-point for four. Anderson has a natter in Gambhir's ear, Gambhir smiles back. He should have pointed up at the scoreboard. It says 179 next to his name.

0650 - 313-1 Gambhir dabs Anderson to third-man for a single, but otherwise Anderson keeps it tight. Amy (see below), if only you knew how humdrum your email makes my own life feel. "The best way to glaze Tom's ham (see below) is with cider, crushed cardamom seeds and a dash of whisky - delicious!" says Martin in the TMS inbox. Gambhir becoming a bit ragged and reckless now - he attempts an ugly mow against Swann and inside-edges for a few, to Swann's obvious annoyance.

"Morning Ben. So today I have a lie in to try and improve England's fortunes. Didn't work did it? As an alternative to sticking my head in an oven, I'm going to go and check on my injured and angry bull. Got to provide some sort of distraction I reckon!"
Amy, Zambia, in the TMS inbox

0643 - 309-1 Swann is milked for three fours before Dravid skips down the pitch and flicks Swann through mid-wicket for four.

Simon Mann
"Any youngsters who want to get used to get used to wearing a helmet, watch the TV wearing it, walk around the house wearing it, take the dog for a walk wearing it..."
Simon Mann on TMS

0640: Some good interval chat in the office. "I wouldn't really want to eat anything Jamie Oliver cooks," says the man to my right, "I couldn't be sure he hadn't been lounging about on the sofa with his hands down his trousers before bounding to the kitchen and knocking something up for dinner." Nigella Lawson could go straight to the kitchen from scrubbing the toilet with her bare hands and I'd still fall on her food like a ravenous dog. On Nigella Lawson's gravestone it should read: Here Lies Nigella Lawson. A Woman.

LUNCH

"Your text commentary and the comments coming in put me in mind of what the late great post-modernist thinker Jean Baudrillard had to say on the matter in his last work, The Intelligence of Evil: 'This supersensory reminiscence, the journey of the soul through places, bodies and successive lives, this fantasy ubiquity, has nothing to do with the ubiquity that is ours through the networks, through telepresence and telereality.' Never a truer word was spoken."
Paul in Lancs in the TMS inbox

"The tedium has sent me so mad I'm now scouring the internet for new and exciting ways to glaze my Xmas ham."
Tom in the TMS inbox

0600 - 302-1 Monty keeps it tight enough in the final over before lunch, but Dravid drives his final delivery through cover-point for four to bring up India's 300. England are dying a slow, torturous death...

0557 - 298-1 One for Dravid from Panesar's over before Gambhir rocks back and lashes him through backward-point for four. Gambhir really looking to slip up a gear now and he heaves Swann to the mid-wicket fence. Swann gives it some flight and Gambhir goes inside out and slaps him over the top for four. The partnership now 292, Dravid closing in on Ricky Ponting in the list of all-time Test run-scorers.

0550 - 285-1 Swann gets some tap from Gambhir. First he slog-sweeps the Notts spinner for four to move to 150, then he shows twinkle-toes in creaming Swann through the covers for another boundary, then he mis-times him over mid-off for a couple, before yanking a rank long-hop to the mid-wicket fence. Nice little moment in that over as Pietersen picks up a pint-sized lad after chasing the ball to the mid-wicket boundary before putting him down and flinging the ball to the middle.

0546 - 272-1 Just one from Swann's over before Colly comes shuffling in again. Swann looks to have hurt his finger fielding in the covers from Dravid. Not sure what that's about, Dravid merely feathered it. Colly drops short and is pulled away contemptuously by Gambhir. That's not too clever from the Durham all-rounder. Bowling bumpers at his pace to a man on 145 makes about as much sense as buying a moose a hatstand for Christmas.

"Only -20C here on the northern BC/Yukon Territory border. But the cold doesn't bother us as my sons and I play cricket in the snow often! Are we the most northerly people following this 'excellent' commentary?"
Chris Stacey, Atlin, Canada, in the TMS inbox

0537 - 263-1 Collingwood's going to have a go with his dibbly-dobblies. And when get Colly unfurls his dibbly-dobblies in a Test match, you know things are getting desperate. Colly's first delivery beats Gambhir's stiff forward defensive, but the little left-hander brings up his 1,000th Test runs for the calendar year with a nurdle off his pads for two. Gambhir has got his runs in just eight Tests, at an average of 71.50. Gambhir then comes over all macho and almost puts his back out trying to slap Collingwood over Cow Corner. But misses.

0532 - 261-1 Alas, James (see below), my days of reporting on semi-nude men repeatedly punching each other in exotic American locations are over for a while. You could see this Test match is a subliminal "get back in your box" from the bosses. Dravid takes a chance against Swann, sashaying down the pitch and clipping him over mid-wicket for four. Dravid was beaten in the flight there.

0530 - 259-1 Flintoff's barnstorming spell is over, and he was very unlucky not to be rewarded with a wicket. Five overs, 0-8. Swann again gets the nod over Panesar, spin-wise. Gambhir looks to come down the pitch and flog him over mid-off but doesn't quite get it, and that's a maiden. Dravid flicks Broad off his pads for one before Gambhir pulls off a tremendous stroke, somehow rolling his wrists on a bumper from Broad and crashing him through mid-wicket for four. Two more singles from the over.

"Wait a minute… didn't you used to get all the glamour gigs (RWC in France, Hatton in Las Vegas, something else that I can't remember)? And now you're doing the 5am blogging for a cricket match that's falling apart? What went wrong?"
James MacAonghus in the TMS inbox

0521 - 252-1 Another probing over from Flintoff, before Dravid laces Broad straight down the ground for four. Dravid now equal with Garfield Sobers on 26 Test centuries, by the way. Just as a matter of interest, what would you lot give for South Africa to beat Australia in Perth? I'd rather get a satsuma, a bag of walnuts and a punch in the face for Christmas than see Australia win it.

BBC Sport
"I've spoken to a lot of Indian batsmen and they say 140kph from Flintoff feels like 145kph. He's an awkward customer and bowls a heavy ball..."
Former India all-rounder Ravi Shastri on TMS

"Matt (0442): any chance you could cause my broadband connection to go down so I don't have to get depressed reading all this?"
Sleepless in South Lancashire in the TMS inbox

0511 - 247-1 Crackerjack over from Anderson - first Gambhir is beaten flashing outside off-stump before the Lancashire paceman gets one to jag back in and scythe him in half. That's not clever though - his final ball is short and wide and laced through point for four.

0507 - 243-1 Freddie beats the outside edge of Dravid's bat again. Flintoff really digging deep for his captain here, no chance of him chucking the towel in. 425 balls for 68 runs. I can't get my head round that. I'd rather watch that old test card with the girl and the creepy green clown for six hours (which is, incidentally, how long Bailey was in for).

He's reached 100
0503 - 242-1 There's Dravid's 26th Test hundred, and what a nuggety knock it's been. It came from 261 balls and included 13 fours. Massive relief for the former India skipper, his immediate future in the five-day game assured. If you think McIntosh's innings in Napier is slow (44 from 169 balls), Bearders has just pointed out that Trevor 'Barnacle' Bailey once took 425 balls to make 68 against Australia in 1958. The comedy part is, it was Australia's first televised Test.

0457 - 240-1 I should at this stage point out that England aren't actually bowling badly, it's certainly not as if they've been spraying it around. Freddie to continue and he gets one to spit through, but Dravid plays it well, swaying easily out of the line. Dravid chases a wide one and is beaten, and Flintoff sticks his tongue out and smiles wryly. If one good thing comes out of this series, it's that it's proved Freddie is in pretty decent health (I'm touching wood, don't worry...). Dravid moves to 99 with a nurdle to leg.

0451 - 239-1 Dravid flicks Anderson through mid-wicket for three. Dravid, requiring two runs for his 26th Test ton, skews nervously to point, before Jimmy slings a few barbs his way. Time for a few drinks and a bad weather update from across the globe: Bala resports there is "sleet and snow" in New York, while Gavin relays that it's -28 in Montreal. That's just not living.

"Not Canadian but in Chicago and it's cold and we have a good amount of snow. Sitting in a bar, keeping warm, and following the commentary. Keep up the good work!"
Dan in Chicago in the TMS inbox

0442 - 236-1 A wicked bouncer from Flintoff and Gambhir very nearly loses his noggin. Perfect line from Freddie to the left-hander. Gambhir is clearly unsettled by that, and he fends the next delivery through imaginary second slip and away for four. Can't help feeling they should have second slip in with the new ball. Gambhir picks up a single with a nudge off his pads and Dravid moves to 96 with a drop to point.

"Watching this rubbish whilst on call for customers who may lose their TV or broadband connection for whatever reason. They're the lucky ones."
Matt, Kensal Green, in the TMS inbox

0440 - 230-1 Dravid stays back and forces Anderson into the off-side for three. Gambhir shoulders arms and very nearly loses his off-stump.

0434 - 226-1 Greetings Comrade Rob (see below). At the risk of appearing parochial, are there any other text commentators out there? I think we should all reach out and join hands across the globe. As for staying up until midnight tonight, whatever you do, don't watch reruns of day two between the Kiwis and the Windies - McIntosh is currently 37 from 159 balls. Gambhir flashes and misses outside off-stump, to Flintoff's frustration. News from Perth: Australia have finally been knocked over for 319, South Africa require a mammoth 414 to win.

0430 - 226-1 Anderson squares Dravid up and beats him with pace with the next delivery. Dravid on 88, but he moves to 92 with a controlled glide to the third-man fence for four. Nineteen innings since his last Test ton, but Dravid is looking well set for his 26th. Kevin Pietersen has got problems...

"I'm working on the cricket for one of your rivals and this is my third all nighter in a row, problem is that I can't sleep during the day and so have only had 11 hours sleep since Wednesday morning. Plus I have a wedding to go to later today so won't add to that tally. Has anyone got any tips on how I can stay awake until midnight tonight?"
Rob in the TMS inbox

0425 - 222-1 Anderson strays on to Gambhir's hip and the left-hander picks up a single. Congratulations Nigel (see below), you managed to include two references in your sentence to things I wasn't aware existed. PDA? No idea. Peppa Pig? Nope. Big lbw appeal from Broad against Gambhir, but it pitched outside leg. Gambhir nudges Broad round the corner for a couple before creaming the Notts seamer straight down the ground for four. That was delightful. What is this, some sort of 'Cold-off'? Any more Canadians just about subsisting in Arctic conditions?

"I have to agree with Peter about the weather. It's -45C down here in Saskatchewan, Canada. Chester-le-Street is like paradise compared to this. I can't sleep till England get some wickets. Come on England!"
James, Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, in the TMS inbox

"Am up with a teething baby so am limited to following this on PDA - if I put the TV on she'll demand Peppa Pig. Any chance of giving the Aus/SA score?"
Nigel, Coventry, in the TMS inbox

0417 - 215-1 Short and wide from Broad and Dravid carves him through point for four. Broad drags one in short and again, and this time Dravid slices him deliberately over the slips for four more. The runs really flowing now with this shiny new cherry. Miriam (see below), teachers can't say stuff like that any more can they? I thought everything kids did nowadays had to be wonderful and it was all about prizes for all? My old chemistry teacher used to read out the end of term exam results in reverse order. "30th... Perkins... 4%..." Didn't do him any harm, he's an oil trader now.

0414 - 207-1 Dravid very nearly plays on, staying back to some rib music from Anderson and the ball just dribbling past his leg-stump. Dravid is squared up next ball, but the ball flies off his edge and away for four. That's India's 200, but a bit of seam for Anderson. Anderson offers width and Dravid dabs him to the third-man fence for four. That's the first 200 partnership on this ground in a Test and the record second-wicker partnership for India against England. England really on the defensive now, despite it being the first over with the new ball. One slip, the field scattered. Dravid tucks into the leg-side for a single before Gambhir gets cramped outside off-stump and nearly plays on. Bit of hope for Anderson... but hope is a dangerous thing...

0406 - 198-1 Monty drops short and Gambhir rocks back and flashes him through the covers for four. And Panesar too short again, and Gambhir repeats the stroke for four more. The new ball due, and England immediately take it, despite a good over from Swann. Jimmy Anderson into the attack.

"Hi Ben! I'm grading group projects for a class I teach, and am running out of ways to say 'boring but competent' and 'solid but average'. Hoping that your description of Dravid's batting this morning will help!"
Miriam in the TMS inbox

0402 - 190-1 Some sawdust is brought on to fill in the footholes and it's time for Swann to have a twirl. A slip and a short-leg in for Swann. Dravid picks up a single with a clip to mid-wicket - smart fielding from Broad, diving full-length. Dravid lunges forward and Swann thinks he's got him caught at slip, but Umpire Rauf says, rightly, that the batsman got nothing on it. Plenty of turn from Swann, who's making things happen once again.

0356 - 188-1 Bit of spite from Freddie, a decent bumper and Gambhir has to jerk his head out of the way. Flintoff coming in from around the wicket, but Gambhir staying in his shell. The umpires have another look at the light, but Broad is cleared to bowl his next over. Just one from it, a single from Dravid to mid-off.

"Don't complain about the weather - it's -35C here with the windchill in Winnipeg, Canada, and it's been that way all day every day for the last week. I'd rather be in Chester-le-Street! C'mon England give us a wicket so I can go to bed happy!"
Peter in the TMS inbox

0348 - 187-1 Dravid gets one that keeps low and shoots through from Broad and he very nearly loses his off-stump. Low full-bunger from Broad, and Dravid whips him through mid-wicket for four.

0344 - 183-1 Short and wide from Flintoff and Gambhir rolls his wrists and flashes him through point for four. Any England fans feeling gloomy about England's recent performances should think yourself lucky you're not a Kiwi: McIntosh and Flynn have put on 70-odd for the second wicket in the first innings of the second Test against the West Indies... in 40-odd overs. That is Old Skool.

0339 - 179-1 Broad takes the second over, and Dravid blocks the first five balls and leaves the last. Aaah, Christmas parties. Our one was cancelled this year, the BBC can't be seen to be throwing money around when everyone else is being credit crunched. Anyone make an eejit of themselves Jimmy? What would an office Christmas party be without someone making an eejit of themselves...

"Just got back from our Christmas party and in dire need of sleep, but knowing me I won't be able to do that whilst there's a Test match on! Hopefully a few early wickets to keep me smiling, because a lack of sleep and England being blown away might make me a little cranky tomorrow."
Jimmy in the TMS inbox

0335 - 179-1 Rahul Dravid and Gautam Gambhir make their way to the middle, cutting through the gloom like a couple of characters from a Lowry painting. It really is that grim out there. Freddie Flintoff takes the first over, and Gambhir takes no chances. We've got Australia v South Africa in Perth on another. I know where I'd rather be.

0324: Jonathan Agnew on TMS tells us that we will be starting on time, and also that this is the only Test match he's ever covered in which he "gets up when it's dark". England could do with a couple of wickets before lunch, otherwise India could be over the hill and far away by the end of today and facing a battle to save this Test on a disintegrating wicket. Get your emails in, I could do with some company.

0319: The chaps over at cricinfo, whose work I copy sometimes, inform me that it's gloomy again in Mohali, but that the umpires are "confident of starting on time". I'll keep you posted.

0315: Morning all. Let's hope for a slightly less downbeat day than yesterday, when Mohali looked like Chester-le-Street in April and Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid ground England's bowlers into dust. To compound the misery, my mum announced over the phone that, after 30-odd years of "I'm not going mad this Christmas, it's just going to be bits and bobs", no-one in the Dirs family is getting anything this year, meaning the credit crunch has even wiped out marzipan fruit. Cosmic.

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see also
India duo leave England trailing
20 Dec 08 |  England
Swann delighted with wicket haul
20 Dec 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
20 Dec 08 |  England
India v England photos
20 Dec 08 |  England
England crushed by Tendulkar ton
15 Dec 08 |  England
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket


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