Kolkata: Eden Gardens in Kolkata turned supple on a warm Wednesday afternoon in the city of Rosogullas when India and England maintained balance between nearly right and just right. That’s what happened right from the outset when Indian skipper MS Dhoni spun the coin at around 8:15 am IST and chose to bat first after Alastair Cook lost the call yet again for the third time in a row.
The two Indian openers Virender Sehwag (23 off 26) and Gautam Gambhir didn’t make any mistake that could hurt the team before Sehwag was trapped in the middle of the wicket trying to make his ground while running three runs. He fell well short of his crease while running the third run to Steven Finn patrolling the midwicket boundary. The throw from the paceman was right on top of the stumps and Matt Prior didnâ€™t hesitate much to whip off the bails in a flash.
India was 47-1 when Sehwag was back in the hut.
Then came the promising youngster Cheteshwar Pujara, who shows glimpses of being an Indian hero in the making. He, in his typical fashion, stepped out on two occasions and found the wicket boundary twice to Monty Panesar. But, his stay at the crease wasnâ€™t long enough.
India were 88-1 before Englandâ€™s in-demand spinner Monty Panesar bowled a beauty that completely did Pujara. The ball made way between his bat and pad and ended at the middle stump lifting the English team in joy.
The stadium with the capacity of around 60 thousand roared like a group of lions when Sachin Tendulkar (76) stepped out to bat looking into the sun. He was confident, in fact more than his previous 8 consecutive failures. Pressure was certainly looking on him as he was in a pretty protective frame of mind. Though he stroked a half century just after the tea, and also involved in a partnership with Yuvraj Singh (32).
The little master edged one on an outgoing delivery from James Anderson which was gleefully taken one handedly by Matt Prior who dived to his right to make Tendulkar make a long walk back to the pavillion. Silence swallowed Eden.
Virat Kohli (6) walked in and went out soon on Andersenâ€™s pace. He was Graeme Swann.
Yuvraj Singh also couldnâ€™t maintain the rhythm going when he lofted a dolly to the short cover and yet another set Indian batsman collapsed to hay. R Ashwin contributed 21 before Jimmy got him clean bowled.
At stumps, India were 273 for 7 with skipper MS Dhoni (22) holding an end with the other being held by Zaheer Khan.
Earlier, the speculation over the nature of the Eden track not being even finally came to an end as 83-year-old curator Prabhir Mukherjee uncovered an apparently benevolent surface, one on which Indian batsmen have feasted on at home in the recent past.
In the morning, the batsmen were mostly composed as both the quicks and the spinners found encouraging signs from the strip and the only wickets came from mistakes from the batsmen.