India were all out for 453 in their first innings on the second day of the second Test against England in Mohali on Saturday.
Graeme Swann triggered a top order collapse and Andrew Flintoff polished off the tail to abort India's bid to bury England under a run mountain.Scorecard | Day 1 images
Resuming on 179 for one, India's overnight batsmen Gautam Gambhir (179) and Rahul Dravid (136) starred in a record 314-run stand for the second wicket before Swann and Flintoff pegged back the hosts who lost wickets in a heap towards the end to be all out for 453 runs in 158.2 overs.
England openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook did walk out to begin their first innings but once they were offered light, both returned to the pavilion without facing a ball.
Interestingly, the sun came out soon after.
The morning session, which yielded 123 runs from 27 overs without any wicket falling, clearly belonged to the hosts, who looked set for at least 500 runs.
Fortune, however, fluctuated in the post-lunch session, which saw just 54 runs being scored off 28 overs with four Indian wickets tumbling in quick successions.
England dominated the final session as well, claiming the lower half of the Indian batting order conceding 97 runs.
On a misty morning when the ball did quite a bit, both the overnight batsmen Gambhir and Dravid scratched around for a while before some easy boundaries calmed their nerves.
Much to their bemusement, they found singles were not easy to come by even though boundaries kept flowing. Gambhir cut Andrew Flintoff for a delectable boundary to score India's first runs of the day and twice stepped out to hit Monty Panesar for a couple of fours in his only over before lunch.
After his painstaking effort yesterday Dravid on Saturday played some delectable shots, along with some not-so-convincing ones, which pushed his strike rate.
Dravid got into the groove by hitting James Anderson for back-to-back boundaries -- an edge and a more convincing steer down the third man. Broad too was treated similarly, this time an immaculate cut was followed by a top edge that flew over the slips.
A single off Anderson finally took Dravid to his 26th century, which was his second of the year, following the 111 he had scored against South Africa in Chennai.
At the other end, Gambhir could not be denied his individual milestone either. The left-hander went on to complete his 1000 Test runs this calendar year, joining Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar who had already completed the feat in 2008.
The morning session eventually proved a wicketless toil for the English bowlers who did everything right but just could not get rid of the determined Indian duo.
Once they returned to the field after lunch, Swann injected some life into the dull proceedings with a three-wicket burst that triggered a top order collapse.
After more than six-and-half hours' stay in the middle, Gambhir's patience was clearly wearing thin as the left-hander started slogging and missing. He threw his bat at everything hurled at him and Swann sensed an opportunity.
The off-spinner lured him out of the crease and Gambhir went for a drive only to see the outside edge finding Alastair Cook at backward point. It was clearly a rush of blood that ended Gambhir's 348-ball knock garnished with 25 hits to the fence besides a six.
Nine runs later, Swann plotted Dravid's fall when the batsman, trying to clear long on, offered Panesar a simple catch at deep mid-off.
Sachin Tendulkar (11) had scored his 12,000th Test run at the same ground against Australia in October but he let down his fans on this occasion. Tendulkar attempted a paddle shot but completely missed the line and umpire Daryl Harper had no doubt that the Swann delivery would have hit the stumps.
Bowling without luck so far, Flintoff decided to join the party and the talismanic Englishman trapped VVS Laxman with one that jagged back as India, from the comfort of a commanding 320 for one, suddenly slumped to 339 for five.
Laxman had a 24-ball struggle at the end of which the stylish right-hander departed with a duck against his name.
The Indian crisis would have compounded but butter-finger Cook spilled a pretty regulation catch at gully after Yuvraj Singh (27), then at eight, had played Flintoff away from his body.
Not that Yuvraj could make the most of the opportunity.
The left-hander had blasted three fours and a huge six off Swann when he fell to a soft caught-behind dismissal that gave Panesar his first wicket of the match.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (29) hit Anderson for two boundaries before perishing in the same over. At the other end, a nonchalant Harbhajan Singh swung his bat at everything before falling to Panesar after a 21-ball 24.
Flintoff removed Zaheer Khan (7) and Amit Mishra (23) to drop curtains on the Indian innings.