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Indian fielding's woes continue as England consolidate

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Mar 21 (UNI) India continued to fumble on the field giving the dangerous Andrew Flintoff two lives, as England slowly, but steadily, consolidated their position at tea on the fourth day of the third and final Test at the Wankhede stadium here today.

At the tea break, England, in a must-win situation to square the series, had progressed to 138 for five with their stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff on 19 and Paul Collingwood on 31 at the crease having put on an unbeaten 53-run partnership for the sixth wicket.

England, who had gained a 121-run first innings lead, are now ahead by 259 runs.

The visitors began the post-lunch session on a disastrous note when they lost their first innings hero debutant Owais Shah to the fourth ball after the break, going for a non existant single to short third man.

Collingwood played the ball from Anil Kumble to short third man and Shah called for a run, but before he could reach his crease Tendulkar rifled in a throw from the short third man for Dhoni to whip off the bails. Shah could not add to his lunch score of 38 which came from 117 balls, stuuded with four boundaries. England were 85 for five at that stage.

In the third over after lunch, India should have had the opposition captain also back in the hut without opening his account, but Yuvraj Singh at silly point dropped a sitter with England still not having added to their lunch score of 85.

After this, Flintoff and Collingwood cut out all risks and played sensibly preferring to take their ones and twos to keep the scoreboard moving against the spin duo of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.

Flintoff played in a responsible way and unlike his usual style, eschewed all risks to see that England take the match away from India by setting a huge target.

At the other end, the situation was tailor-made for Collingwood, who once again put a premium on his wicket and frustrated the Indian spinners who were getting a bit of turn and bounce.

The hosts should have had Flintoff once again when he was on 14 but this time, the culprit was wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who missed one of the easiest stumpings as the England captain was way down the wicket after being beaten by a Harbhajan delivery in flight. However, Dhoni managed to muff the stumping. The visitors were then 119 for five.

In the next over, Kumble missed a hard caught and bowled chance having to dive in front as Flintoff got a leading edge while trying to turn the ball onto the legside. The Lancashire all rounder was on 18 in the team total of 124 for five then.

Earlier in the morning, resuming on their overnight score of 31 for two, debutant Shah, who made 38, played a responsible innings to hold the innings together with nightwatchman Shaun Udal furstrating the Indian bowlers' attempts for an early breakthrough.

Udal played grittily and gave support to Shah, as the two batsmen went about setting up a good foundation for England to be able to set India a challenging target for victory.

Both the batsmen played cautiously as they survived the first hour without any undue trouble, taking their singles and twos to swell the England total.

Udal also gained his confidence as he hit a couple of crisp boundaries to Sreesanth and Munaf Patel, as England posted their 50 on the board.

However, after 11 overs, Dravid who had begun with Munaf Patel and Sreesanth made a bowling change from the pavilion end and that seemed to click, as Pathan who was brought on struck in his second over itself getting Udal to go for a drive to a ball outside the off-stump and the edge was taken low down at second slip by Wasim Jaffer.

Pietersen, the next man in, looked uncomfortable against Kumble who was brought on from the Tata end, and after an uneasy stay of 29 minutes, tried to turn the leg-spinner onto the onside, but a leading edge saw the ball fly to the bowler who dived across the stumps to take a great catch. Pietersen made seven.

UNI GS SSS PDS RS1647

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