By Anurag Dey
Kolkata: Gautam Gambhir struck a fine half century and helped India make a promising start in the crucial third Test against England at the Eden Gardens here Wednesday.
India reached 90/2 at lunch with Gambhir (50) and Sachin Tendulkar (1) in the middle.
On a flat Eden deck, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had no hesitation in opting to bat and Gambhir and Virender Sehwag began well, hitting some fluent shots in front of around 15,000 spectators.
But the Delhi dasher (23) perished through a silly run out after a misunderstanding with Gambhir.
Both teams made changes. Ishant Sharma replaced Harbhajan Singh for India, while England brought in exciting pacer Steve Finn for Stuart Broad. Ian Bell in place of Jonathan Bairstow was the other change for the visitors.
Though both captains had said on match eve that there would be initial movement for the pacers, it was not to be. With pacers hardly troubling the batsmen, Cook summoned spinner Monty Panesar as early as the eighth over but the batsmen played him with ease.
Gambhir, who made a gritty 65 in the second innings of the Mumbai test for a lost cause, looked determined and played some crisp shots. Cheteshwar Pujara, who has been in tremendous form in the tournament, joined him after Sehwag’s fall as the duo took India to 50 in the 12th over.
However, disaster struck in the 26th over when Panesar broke the defence of the solid Pujara (16). The left-arm tweaker broke into a jig after sending back the most consistent Indian batsman in the series.
Unfazed by the twin dismissals, Gambhir got to his back to back fifty off 81 balls, placing Graeme Swann in the cover region for a single.