England needed all their tenacity and self-belief as they fought through two wicketless sessions on Day 3 in Nagpur, but they eventually got their reward against a spirited India.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli finally stood up for the hosts and frustrated England for 507 balls, Kohli reaching his century in the evening session before Swann thumped one into his pads on 103. Dhoni, who played his longest test innings in terms of balls faced (246), was not so fortunate.
India’s hard work had already began to unravel as Ravindra Jadeja was snared by James Anderson before Dhoni, who had spent over an hour in the nervous nineties, attempted a quick single to Alistair Cook at mid-off. However, the England captain belied a tiring day in the field to swoop in and run out Dhoni by the tightest of margins. His opposite number was visibly distraught as he viewed the 3rd umpire’s denoument following several television replays.
Swann then bowled Piyush Chawla with a beauty with the final ball of the day to leave India on 297-8 overnight, still 33 runs behind an England side they were hoping to gain a substantial lead on, especially given that runs will be easier to come by on Day 3 than they will when chasing on the final afternoon.
Both Dhoni and Kohli reined in their normal aggressive games as they battled for India’s survival in this series, having come together yesterday at 71-4. The Nagpur pitch, while still apparently demon-free, is not conducive to quick scoring, evidenced by Kevin Pietersen’s 188-ball 73 on Day 1, but both batsmen still displayed a willingness to punish the bad balls and looked to have put their team in a position of real strength.
This England team, however, doesn’t know when to surrender. They will hope to knock over India’s last two wickets quickly on Day 4 and then open up a commanding lead to bat India out of contention. The tourists would be happy to draw this final test to earn a 2-1 series victory, while India will need to push for the win, as they seek to avoid losing at home to India for the first time in 27 years.