Swann strikes, India collapse

Chennai, December 12:

England debutant Graeme Swann grabbed two wickets in his first over to spark a dramatic Indian collapse in the first cricket Test today.

India, replying to England’s first innings total of 316, crashed to 155-6 on the second day. At stumps, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was on 24 and Harbhajan Singh on 13 with India still trailing by 161 runs.

Swann, the 29-year-old off-spinner who played 15 one-day internationals before being handed his Test cap here, struck as soon as he was brought on by skipper Kevin Pietersen for the last over before tea.

He trapped Gautam Gambhir (19) leg-before with his third delivery. Off the final ball of the over, Swann earned another leg-before verdict against Rahul Dravid to emulate countryman Ric-hard Johnson’s feat of two first-over wickets on debut against Zimbabwe (2003).

Swann’s double strike came after opener Virender Sehwag fell cheaply in the sixth over, dragging a James Anderson delivery on to his stumps. Sachin Tendulkar (37) and Venkatsai Laxman (24) put on 61 for the fourth wicket before the duo banished to return catches in the space of six deliveries, reducing India to 102-5. Steve Harmison then struck shortly before close when Yuvraj Singh, who turned 27 on on Friday, was snapped up in the slips for 14.

Earlier, England’s total was boosted by a defiant 53 not out from wicketkeeper Matt Prior in his first Test match since the tour of Sri Lanka a year ago.

Indian spinners Harbhajan and Amit Mishra claimed three wickets each as the tourists, who were 164-1 at one stage on the first day, lost their way in the middle-order before the late revival.

Nightwatchman Anderson gave the top order a batting lesson by holding his ground for almost two hours to score 19 that included a valuable sixth-wicket stand of 42 with Prior. England recovered after Flintoff was dismissed in the dayZs third over before a run had been added to the overnight score of 229-5.

Second day washed out:

DUNEDIN: The second day of the first Test between New Zealand and the West Indies was abandoned here on Friday due to persistent rain. New Zealand were 226 for four overnight after winning the toss and deciding to bat. — AFP