By Anurag Dey
Kolkata: England defeated India by seven wickets after initial hiccups on the final day of the third Test match here Sunday to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
Chasing a meagre 41 for victory at Eden Gardens, England lost three quick wickets before Ian Bell (28 not out) and Nick Compton (9 not out) saw their team through.
Bell flicked R. Ashwin for a single to take England to 41/3 as the Barmy Army rejoiced in the galleries and the players went into a tight huddle in the dressing room balcony.
The Indians looked crestfallen. They must win the final Test at Nagpur to level the series.
This was England’s second ever win on the iconic ground, the first having come 35 years ago when a Tony Greig-led side coasted to a 10-wicket victory in 1977.
It was India’s first defeat at the Eden Gardens since they lost to Pakistan in 1999.
In the morning, the Indian second innings ended at 247 in the very second over.
Ashwin, who enabled India to save innings defeat Saturday after the more reputed batsmen perished without a fight, remained not out on 91.
There was drama in the very first over by Ashwin in England’s second essay when skipper Alastair Cook got stumped trying to hit a turning delivery.
Cook, who scored a masterly 190 in the first innings, was out for just one.
With skipper M.S. Dhoni employing a double spin attack, Pragyan Ojha bowled from the other end. The Orissa left arm spinner tasted success in his second over as he trapped Jonathan Trott (3) in front of the wicket with the visitors having only seven on the board.
Ashwin then got Kevin Pietersen to edge to keeper Dhoni to leave England in a spot of bother at 8/3.
But that was the end of the Indian success story as Bell hit some exquisite strokes to propel England to their second win on the trot.
England won the second Test at Mumbai after going down in the series opener at Ahmedabad.
The hosts resumed at 239/9 overnight but managed to add only eight runs to their total before Ojha was castled by James Anderson.
Ashwin missed out on a deserving second Test century, while the duo added 50 runs for the last wicket to set England a victory target of 41.
Ashwin was the top scorer for India followed by Virender Sehwag (49) and Gautam Gambhir (40).
For the visitors, Anderson was the pick of the bowlers taking 3/38 while fellow pacer Steve Finn returned figures of 3/45.
The spinner duo of Graeme Swann (2/70) and Monty Panesar (1/70) also chipped in with wickets.