England are 197 runs behind India with all their second innings wickets intact at the end of the third day's play in the first Test at Mohali. Faced with a first-innings deficit of 231, Mark Butcher and Marcus Trescothick saw England through to 34 without loss after a searching examination by spin in the final session.
India began cautiously this morning against Matthew Hoggard and James Ormond, and Tendulkar reached his 50 fortuitously off Hoggard with an inside edge to the fine leg boundary as he tried to withdraw his bat. Dravid, having cut Ormond for his first boundary of the morning, was trapped lbw playing from the crease. Tendulkar then set the crowd alight, first bringing up the 300 with a scintillating on-drive off Hoggard, then clipping him through midwicket and pulling him through square leg in the same over to take India to 308 for 4.
The left-handed Sourav Ganguly hit consecutive offside boundaries off Ormond, and as Tendulkar went uncharacteristically into his shell, the Indian captain drove Flintoff for three through mid-off and White for three more through midwicket. Tendulkar took the lead to over a hundred from Richard Dawson's first ball of the day, with a canny sweep down to fine leg, and then got into position early to cut Dawson behind square for four. By lunch India remained well placed, 115 runs ahead on 353 for 4.
Tendulkar signalled his afternoon intentions very clearly, pulling the first ball after the interval from Dawson for four, and taking three more from the second. But the bowlers stuck to their task well, and Ganguly should have been dismissed on 41 as he tried to break loose. Having just hit Dawson for four over mid-on, he charged down the wicket in an attempt to repeat the stroke. James Foster fumbled to miss a relatively straightforward stumping chance after Ganguly was beaten in the flight.
To the England wicket-keeper's relief he made no mistake three overs later, when the persevering Hoggard induced an outside edge from Tendulkar with late movement to give Foster a regulation catch and the Yorkshireman a well-deserved first wicket of the innings. Tendulkar had made a delightful 88, and left a largely silent stadium with India on 370 for 5.
Hoggard made it a double strike in his next over as Ganguly mistimed a cut, enabling Graham Thorpe to pouch the catch at backward point. But England let another chance go begging (the fourth of the innings) when Thorpe, of all people, dropped a straightforward catch at cover point. Bangar, on eight at the time, was the fortunate batsman; Dawson yet again the suffering bowler. Two more to third man from Bangar brought up India's 400 as India progressed sedately against accurate bowling that deserved more adhesive support in the field.
Laxman briefly broke the stranglehold with a straight-driven boundary off White, and on the verge of tea Bangar made the most of a rare short ball from Dawson with a boundary backward of point. At the interval India were 419 for 6, 181 runs in front.
India continued to make steady progress after tea, with Laxman clipping Dawson high over the infield for four through midwicket, and then showing perfect placement as he split the legside field with another boundary. But Dawson got his man when Laxman, cutting casually, was smartly picked up by Hussain at backward point. The local hero Harbhajan Singh was soon on his way for just one, plumb lbw to Dawson as he lost his balance trying to sweep a ball that was too full for the shot.
Bangar clipped Flintoff to the fine leg boundary to take the lead beyond 200, but departed trying to hit Dawson over midwicket, skying a return catch. Iqbal Siddiqui provided some late-innings entertainment before he was bowled by Hoggard off the inside edge for 24, and India were all out for 469.
Faced with a huge task in their second innings, England began positively as Mark Butcher cut Tinu Yohannan for four behind point in the first over. Although Yohannan and Iqbal Siddiqui struggled with their direction at times, each of them induced false strokes from Butcher and Trescothick. After eight overs Ganguly made a double change, with spin coming on at both ends in the form of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, who immediately extracted more turn than in the first innings.
When Kumble dropped short Trescothick twice swept him for four through midwicket. Kumble was more impressive against Butcher, twice appealing for lbw during a probing over, once as Butcher offered no stroke. Under brightening floodlights and to regular cries of "Well bowled Bhaji!" England progressed cautiously towards a total of 34 without loss at the close. They still have an awful lot to do.