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Cook's England close in on victory

England came tantalisingly close to victory in the third Test in Kolkata on the fouth day after an exemplary performance from their bowlers. Captain Alastair Cook’s impressive 190 had been the keystone of England’s first innings lead, but it was the bowling attack, led by Jimmy Anderson, that demoralised India.

England’s lead of 207 was not quite as many as they would have hoped for after Cook’s innings, but it was nearly enough to wrap up an innings victory, given the constant menace offered by Anderson, Steve Finn and the spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.

Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag started confidently, but once Swann had secured Sehwag’s wicket, the collapse began, with India’s hallowed Sachin Tendulkar proving a disappointment once more, making just five runs before being caught off Swann’s bowling. This may prove to be his last series as a Test batsman.

Embarrassingly for India, it was two bowlers, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma, who offered the most effective resistance to England, putting on a defiant stand for the ninth wicket. Ashwin in particular was exceptional, ensuring that England would need to bat again, and taking India into the final day with hopes that a miracle of the weather might yet save the game.

Cook’s elevation to captain has produced a return to the immaculate batting form that demoralised Australia in the last Ashes series. He accumulated his runs in serene fashion and was cruising towards a double century before being run out in an unorthodox fashion. He had dodged a hard throw from Virat Kohli and been stumped. As he had been out of his ground before taking evasive action he was given out. It was frustrating at the time, but will be forgotten if England wrap up a win to put them in control of the series.

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