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'Flat track bullies', 'Tigers at home' - the monickers for Team India have been endless as they have protected a very proud home crowd over the last couple of decades, barely losing a test series at home. However, caught deep in the midst of a downward spiral, the land that Steve Waugh once coined as 'The Final Frontier' has finally fallen, and the disappointment for India cricket fans is that they have not just been beaten, but quite comprehensively outplayed at their own game.
On Sunday morning in the mild chill of a Kolkata winter, England wrapped up the third test of this four match series by 7 wickets to nudge 2-1 clear. Revenge for India's humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Poms in England has gone far out of the window, and the emphasis has now clearly switched to somehow avoiding a series defeat at home. That will indeed be a tall order, considering that India barely won 2 sessions out of 13 in this test match, and a turnaround with the personnel currently on offer appears all too unlikely.
In terms of how this panned out on Day 5, India continued to show some fight. Jimmy Anderson capped off an excellent match by taking the wicket of Pragyan Ojha in his first over of the morning, bowling the no.11 for 3. Sadly for Ravichandran Ashwin, that meant he was to be denied a second Test century, left high and dry on 91, having struck two boundaries off Steven Finn in the opening over of the day.
England were left with a paltry target of 41 to win, and India showed a glimpse of what might have been, had they batted better in that second session after lunch on Day 4. Ashwin had England captain Alastair Cook stumped for 1 in his first over, Jonathan Trott was trapped leg before by Ojha for 3, and Ashwin then had Kevin Pietersen caught behind for naught to leave England feeling the pressure at 8-3.
However, there was to be no dramatic collapse, as Ian Bell came out and made a run a ball 28 to see his side through to a comfortable enough win in the end.
It was a richly deserved victory for England, one that will give them the belief that they can actually inflict further punishment on India by winning the Final Test in Nagpur in three days time.
It will be interesting to see how the Indian Selection Committee respond when they meet later today to select the team for the fourth test.
India 1st innings 316 all out (105 overs, 3.03 rpo)
S Tendulkar 76(155) M Panesar 4/90
G Gambhir 60(124) Ă‚Â·J Anderson 3/89
England 1st innings 523 all out (167.3 overs, 3.12rpo)
A Cook 190(377) P Ojha 4/142
J Trott 87(223)Ă‚Â·R Ashwin 3/183
India 2nd innings 247 all out (84.4 overs, 2.91 rpo)
V Sehwag 49(57) S Finn 3/37
R Ashwin 91* (157) J Anderson 3/38
England 2nd innings 41/3 (12.1 overs, 3.36rpo)
I Bell 28* (28) R Ashwin 2/31
England win by 7 wickets
File Photograph Courtesy: BCCI
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