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Riveting final day on cards
- LORDíS TEST
- ADVANTAGE WITH ENGLAND, BUT...

London: Being competitive has much to do with partnerships and the one between opener Dinesh Karthik and Sourav Ganguly (for the fourth wicket) late on Day IV has given India some hope. There was none when Sachin Tendulkarís dismissal ó almost a replay of how he became Monty Panesarís maiden victim 16 months ago ó made it 84 for three.

The Lordís wicket remains an absolute beauty and, if the overnighters build even stronger, the possibility of an Indian win canít be consigned to the Thames.

England, of course, stay favourites to take npower Test No. 1. With rain forecast, one can expect a draw as well. Monday should be a riveting final day.

ďItís a 65-35 advantage for England, but I liked the way Sourav and Karthik batted... Both showed guts and application,Ē former India captain and cricket manager Ravi Shastri told The Telegraph.

Requiring 380 to go 1-0 up in the three-match series, the Indians finished on 137 for three, with Karthik on 56 (180 minutes, 112 balls, 7x4) to Souravís 36.

[The highest chase at Lordís was scripted by the West Indies in 1984 ó 344 for one, thanks to a double hundred from the peerless Gordon Greenidge.]

Besides Sachin, Wasim Jaffer and captain Rahul Dravid are back in the dressing room. Dravid appeared unluckly to be given lbw (off an aggressively appealing Chris Tremlett) by Simon Taufel.

Earlier, England got bowled out for 282 in their second innings. But for Rudra Pratap Singhís maiden five-wicket haul (five for 59), the hosts would have been more comfortably placed.

Dravid, in fact, must thank RP for denying England the bigger psychological boost of having declared. Itís another matter that the eventual outcome may not be influenced.

RP took three wickets in a breathtaking spell before lunch and then claimed two towards the end. He swung the ball (both ways) at a nice pace and, clearly, his variety surprised England.

Surprised former West Indies quick Ian Bishop too.

ďFrankly, Iíd expected RP to be the weakest link... But heís got variation and hits the deck as well... Swing is his plus... He has the energy too,Ē Bishop remarked.

Strangely, despite being MoM in the Faisalabad Test (penultimate of that series) in January last year, RPís next Test after that tour was in Bangladesh this summer ó a gap of 16 months.

Thatís because the Greg Chappell regime branded him a one-day specialist! Just like, for a while, Sreesanth wasnít considered for ODIs.

Hopefully, RP will now get more respect from the powers-that-be.

If RP did the damage with the leather, Kevin Pietersen landed the willow-blows. Years on, itís unimaginable how the South African system ignored him. Having played for Natal, his early ambition had been to wear the Protea colours.

South Africaís loss has been Englandís big gain and the right-hander oozes class. That he can change the tempo at will was evident in a three-over period after lunch when he helped himself to 32 runs off Sreesanth and Anil Kumble.

Shot-selection, by the way, isnít the 27-year-old Pietersenís sole USP and he rated his latest hundred (ninth overall and second of the summer at Lordís) as the ďbestĒ of his career.

As for being fatigued, well, there was no trace of that.

Significantly, wicketkeeper Matt Prior was an able ally and their 119-run partnership for the sixth-wicket hurt India the most.

Itís about partnerships, after all.

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