Kolkata, Dec 8 (IBNS) A gritty unbeaten knock of 83 from R Ashwin delayed England's victory by a day as India were on 239/9 on the the fourth day of the third Test at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.
On the day when Indian batting stalwarts fell like nine pins, R Ashwin´s defiant stay at the crease helped the home team stave off the
ignominy of an innings defeat by giving India a lead of 32 runs.
The spinning all-rounder hand an obdurate partners in form of Ishant Sharma. The duo forged vital 38 runs stand that helped India minimize the deficit of 207 runs to a large.
Sharma lasted for 53-ball, before becoming a victim of Monty Panesar´s beauty.
Ashwin and Ishant´s gritty effort was greeted with full-throttle cheer from around 35,000 spectators, who until now were treated with
some lack-luster show from their revered batting heroes.
The Chennai lad, who is 13-run short of his highly-deserved second Test ton, brought the the Eden crowd on its toes towards the fag-end of the day with 13 delicately timed boundaries in his still continuing 151-ball effort.
Pragyan Ojha was giving Ashwin an able company when the stumps were drawn for the day.
A humiliating defeat became imminent during the second session of day´s play where wickets fell in clusters and from being 86/0 at one
stage were tottering at 145/6.
The hosts, however, started the day on bright note, wrapping up the English tail within thirty minutes of day´s play. Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag further boosted the home team´s hope of leading a valiant fightback.
Graeme Swann trigerred a dramatic batting collapse of Indian batting when he cleaned up dangerous looking Sehwag (49) on the first ball after lunch.
The rest followed the Delhi dasher in procession and fell like a pack of cards.
Young Cheteshwar Pujara became victim of a mindless out. The Saurashtra batsman, responding to Gambhir´s call, ran for a single and found himself short of the crease despite putting a full length dive.
While Gambhir (40), Sachin Tendulkar (5), Mahindra Singh Dhoni (0) and Virat Kohli (20) perished in near-identical fashion, fishing the ball outside the off stump.
England bowlers continued their over Indian batsmen, picking up eight-wickets in less than three sessions.
Steven Finn, who was making a comeback in this match after nursing a career-threatening thigh injury, announced his arrival to form with a figure of three for 37.
His pace partner James Anderson to fin his rhythm, claiming two wickets by bowling virtually unplayable deliveries.
In the morning session, India took and 4.3 overs to clean up remaining four English wickets and restricted England to 523.