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England take 2-1 lead with seven-wicket win at Eden

Kolkata, Dec 9, 2012 (PTI) 14:10 IST
India's M S Dhoni with Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir reacts after they lost 3rd Test match against England at Eden Garden in Kolkata on Sunday. PTI
A listless India succumbed to their second successive humiliating defeat on home soil has England overcame a few hiccups to clinch the third cricket Test with an emphatic seven-wicket victory and take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four match series here today.

Needing 41 runs to win the match after dismissing India for 247 in the second innings, the visitors lost three quick wickets to add a tinge of excitement to an otherwise lop-sided contest before cruising home with more than two sessions to spare.

Captain Alastair Cook (1), Jonathan Trott (3) and Kevin Pietersen (0) were out cheaply but Ian Bell (28 not out) held his nerve to take the team to the victory target at the Eden Gardens.

Bell took a single off R Ashwin to bring about England's moment of triumph, triggering of scenes of celebrations in the dressing room as the players hugged each other and took a round of the stadium.

With another resounding victory, England kept themselves on course for their first series win on Indian soil in 28 years since David Gower-led team won a series 2-1 in the 1984-85 series.

Though the Indian bowlers took three wickets in the second innings, they looked completely ineffective in the first innings unlike the English bowlers who exploited the conditions far better.

After the humiliating 10-wicket defeat in Mumbai, the hosts once again seemed clueless in their own den with neither batting nor bowling clicking, raising questions on whether some players need to be changed.

The two teams will now travel to Nagpur for the fourth and final cricket Test beginning December 13. England just need a draw to record a historic series triumph while India have no option but to win to level the series and save the blushes of a seires defeat in their own den.

Ravichandran Ashwin shone with the bat with a gritty 91 not out in India's second innings before the off-spinner dented England's 41-run chase, knocking off the wickets of Cook and Pietersen.

But before it went from bad to worse, Ian Bell (28) and Nick Compton (nine) steered the team to a seven-wicket victory to hand India back to back Test defeats at their own backyard, for the first time in 12 years.

It was India's first loss at the Eden Gardens in more than a decade as the last time thay had lost at the historic venue to Pakistan in the Asian Test Championship on February 16, 1999.

India had last lost two Tests on the trot at home to South Africa in 2000 when Tendulkar-led the country to back to back defeats in Mumbai and Bangalore.

In 2004, Rahul Dravid-led India drew against Australia in a match interrupted by rains in Chennai in between two Test defeats in Bangalore and Nagpur. In that series, India had won the last Test in Mumbai to go down 1-2, the last time India had lost a series at their own backyard.

The back to back losses will come as a humiliation for India who had revenge on their mind for their four successive Test losses in England during July-August last year.
Resuming at 239 for nine, India were bundle out for 247 to set England a target of 41.
Pragyan Ojha (3) was bowled by Finn in the fourth ball he faced as Ashwin remained stranded at the other end for an unbeaten 91 from 157 balls and laced with 15 boundaries.

Ashwin began the proceedings watchfully before driving and pulling Finn for back to back boundaries, that brought up his 50-run partnership for the last wicket with Ojha.
But that were the only runs that came off today as in the next over Ojha perished to Anderson's fury with the pacer's fourth ball clipping the India last-man's bail to see their innings fold for 247.

Ashwin's three-hour-two-minute stay at the crease delayed the inevitable for England as India yesterday avoided the humiliation of an innings defeat at their own backyard.
In-line for a hattrick, Ashwin began the proceedings for India and the off-spinner took the prized scalp of in-form English skipper Cook in his very fifth ball.

Cook tried to step out but only to be miss the line with Dhoni doing the needful as England were four for 1 after five balls, chasing the paltry 41.

Adding some twist to the tale, Ojha trapped Trott (3) in front of the middlestump, while a pumped-up Ashwin dismissed Pietersen for a duck in the next over to reduce England to eight for three.

Earlier, India tried to shake off the blues unwinding with a football match after overnight batsman Pragyan Ojha did some net practice.

Skipper Dhoni meanwhile was seen busy discussing with the selection committee chairman Sandeep Patil and south Zone selector Roger Binny to decide on the squad for the fourth and final Test.

From the English perspective, they will now seek to conquer the final frontier after defeating Australia in the 2009 Ashes at home before choking them Down Under two winters ago (in 2010-11).

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