Pragyan Ojha takes five-for before England fight back
Ahmedabad: Pragyan Ojha snapped up five wickets to give India a mammoth 330-run lead before England staged a spirited fightback in the second innings to give themselves a slight hope of saving the first cricket Test here on Saturday.
England were bundled out for 191 in the first innings with Ojha taking five for 45 while Ravichandran Ashwin took three wickets, prompting India to enforce the follow-on.
But the script changed remarkably in the second innings as skipper Alastair Cook (74 batting) and Nick Compton (34 batting) steered England to 111 for no loss at close on an eventful third day with the visitors still trailing by 219 runs.
With two full days left in the match, India still hold the advantage of going 1-0 up in the four-match series. England will have to bat out of their skin to save the game on a Sardar Patel track that appears to be getting slower.
The visitors showed better application in the second innings, after India, who scored a massive 521 for eight declared, asked them to follow-on.
Left-arm spinner Ojha claimed his career`s fourth five-wicket haul with figures of five for 45 in 22.2 overs in his 17th Test while Ashwin grabbed three for 80 in 27 overs.
Starting the second innings after an early tea, Cook and debutant Compton, who was out for nine in the first innings, put on an unbeaten century stand to give England a fine start in their quest for avoiding an innings defeat.
Neither Ojha, nor his off-spin partner Ashwin, could pose as many problems to the English openers in the second essay as they did in the first.
The spinners, especially Ashwin, also bowled a lot flatter and did not stick to a consistent line of attack on a wicket that became more and more placid as the game progressed.
England still have a huge task on hand and their first job on Sunday would be to wipe out the first-innings deficit.
The manner in which Cook and Compton negotiated the Indian bowlers, in stark contrast to what they did in the first, holds some hope for the visitors.
England, who started the day at 41 for three, were pushed to the brink before they adjourned for the lunch break at 110 for seven. They fought back for a brief while through Matt Prior (48) and Tim Bresnan (19).
Prior was the last man out when he lost his off stump to Ojha.
Prior's was the top score of the innings with only captain Cook, who scored 41, being the only other batsman to cross 40 in a pathetic display.
Prior, who had come to the wicket at the fall of Ian Bell with the total reading a miserable 69 for five, played with positive intent.
Bresnan faced 112 balls and hit a couple of boundaries, and showed better application than most of the front-line batsmen.
India shuffled their bowlers constantly and Ojha got the breakthrough by dismissing Bresnan and then followed it up with the wicket of Prior after Zaheer got his only wicket of the innings, trapping Stuart Broad leg before.
In the morning, Ojha picked up two wickets off successive balls while Ashwin and medium pacer Umesh Yadav shared the other two to leave the tourists 411 runs behind India's first innings total at the end of first session.
Ojha packed off a nervous-looking Kevin Pietersen (17) and a clueless Bell (0) at the same score of 69 while Ashwin broke through the defense of Cook eleven runs later.
Yadav struck in his first over late in the second hour of play, having Samit Patel trapped in front.
Umpire Aleem Dar, who did not uphold a very confident leg before appeal against the same batsman off Ashwin earlier, this time raised his finger.
The visitors had, by lunch, got past their lowest ever total of 102 made in India, in 1981 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. They put on 66 runs in 34 overs while losing four wickets in the first session.
Ojha and Ashwin had taken three wickets each before lunch while Yadav had one for six after being brought on to bowl belatedly.
Both Pietersen and Cook worked themselves to boundaries when Ojha erred in length, but the left-armer also drew the morning's first blood after 47 minutes of play. He straightened the ball to disturb the middle stump of Pietersen who tried to work it around.
Further trouble was in store for England as in the next ball, Bell skied one and Sachin Tendulkar, after running back took a well-judged catch at mid-off.
England, who lost two wickets at the same score of 69, added one more run before the day's first drinks break, taken after the addition of 29 runs in 17 overs.
In the first hour, Ashwin did not trouble Cook though he kept the left-hander quiet before conceding his first run to Pietersen in his fifth over of the morning.
Zaheer was given a three-over spell to create some additional boot marks at the opposite end for Ojha to exploit from the other end.
Ashwin came back immediately after the drinks break and struck in his third over by turning the ball away from Cook who lunged for a drive. Sehwag took a simple catch at slip.
Cook's departure meant England had lost three wickets for the addition of 11 runs in 44 balls. They were struggling at 80 for six at that point.
Ashwin should have got the wicket of Patel too, in his next over when he rapped the right-hander on his pads with a fuller length ball, but umpire Dar denied much to the Indians' consternation. Patel was on four.
The off-spinner was unlucky later too when Zaheer dropped a straightforward catch from Prior at deep midwicket.
Yadav was given his first spell in the game when he was brought on to bowl the 48th over in place of Yuvraj, 20 minutes to lunch. And the bowler struck immediately by trapping Patel in front.