England are on the verge of making history after tightening their hold on the third and final Test against India, at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The three-match series is level at 1-1 and India finished the fourth day at 239/9, with Ravichandran Aswhin (83) and Pragyan Ojha (3) at the crease. India lead by a paltry 32 runs.
Play resumed at the start of the day with England at 509/6 and Matt Prior (41) and Graeme Swann (21) at the crease. The visitors rode on yet another brilliant innings from captain Alastair Cook (190), from the previous day, and excellent supporting innings from Nick Compton (57), Jonathan Trott (87) and Kevin Pietersen (54) to grind the Indian bowlers into the dust.
However, MS Dhoni and his men struck back hard in the opening exchanges of today's play, with Prior the first to fall. Tail enders James Anderson (9) and Monty Panesar (0) soon followed, closing the English innings at 523. For India, Ojha was once again the star, with 4/142, and he was backed by Ashwin's 3/183. The spinners were back among the wickets but it was a long, hard toil for the hosts.
All eyes were on India's second innings and opener Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag had to provide their side with a big platform... at least as big as the 165-run stand Cook and Compton gave England. They did start well, with the two bringing up the 50-run mark inside 15 overs. And by lunch the Indians had progressed to 86/0. The forecast was not good for England.
Lunch changed the game dramatically.
Sehwag (49) was the first to go... first ball after the break. The right hander was lazy with both footwork and movement, allowing Swann to drift the ball inside and through to the stumps. England then secured the big wicket - that of Cheteshwar Pujara (8) - and very cheaply, too. The double centurion from the first Test has struggled in Kolkata and he was run out by Ian Bell, with the score at 98.
And that signalled an absolutely chaotic (and comical) fall of wickets, with Gambhir (40), Sachin Tendulkar (5), Virat Kohli (20), Yuvraj Singh (11) and Dhoni (0) all returning to the pavilion as fast as they came out. By the time Ashwin came to the crease, India were reeling at 155/7 and Zaheer Khan's dismissal for a duck left them at 159/8. There was a mini-revival with Ishant Sharma (10) and Ashwin, as the two put on 38 for the ninth wicket but after Sharma fell to India's chief tormentor on this tour - Panesar - the match seemed as good as over.
Ashwin and Ojha continue to fight, with the last wicket scoring 42 to close the day; almost all of which came from Ashwin. However, it is unlikely the resistance will continue much longer.
Expect England to wrap up the win and the series by lunch tomorrow... and expect a serious inquest into the Indians' collapse, after a dominant win in the first Test at Ahmadabad.