Penny holds out hope even as England cruise

Kolkata: Despite being at the receiving end of England`s dominance in the ongoing third Test here, India`s fielding coach Trevor Penney today held out hope of a fightback from the hosts, saying it could still be "even-stevens" if they manage a few early wickets tomorrow.

"If we can get three or four wickets early may be it`s evens-stevens after the first innings. So we are still confident, we just need a couple of breakthroughs," Penny said at the end of second day`s play at the Eden Gardens here.

The Zimbabwean admitted that in-form rival skipper Alastair Cook who notched up his third ton of the series, would be the key man.

"Cook`s a key one. He is in prime form, he has really played well in the last three weeks. Try and get him and the match could be even-stevens. It`s wide open," he said.

Asked whether India`s invincibility at home is under threat, he said: "Definitely not. Just two weeks ago, we won convincingly. Last week we had everything in our favour after day one but let it slip, with a very good innings by Kevin Pietersen.

"This match, maybe we should have got more runs in the first innings but tomorrow is a new day."

Describing Cook as ultra confident at the moment, Penny said, "He`s right up there. He`s at the top of his game. Ultra confident. And he`s getting the breaks, a dropped catch or an lbw or something in these last three games.

"And he goes on to get the big ones, that`s his strength. He`s right up there."

And has the nature of the pitch changed, Penny said, "The wicket`s still the same. It`s still very good. I think in the middle session yesterday (James) Anderson reversed the ball very well. He swung it both ways and with the spinner bowling well at the other end, they had a very good middle period which knocked us back a little."

"The ball should do the same thing, they just swung it a little bit more than us," Penny said.

Asked why India did not use the part-timers, he said: "That`s purely up to the captain. Bowlers are there at his disposal, he felt his main bowlers were doing a good job. Trying to keep it quiet, because it was a very flat wicket. It was up to the captain."