England picked up where they left off at the end of the second Test, restricting India to 273-7 after India had won the toss and elected to bat first. With the exception of a gritty 76 from Sachin Tendulkar, and what looked like a promising 60 from Gautam Gambhir, India’s batsmen were unable to get going and post any telling partnerships. Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh put on 79 to counter the bright start made by England, but Yuvraj gave his wicket away cheaply and England were able to add two more before the close of play. Confidence will now be extremely high in the England dressing room, as they look to prove that their victory in Mumbai was not a one-off. If they are able to quickly claim the three wickets they need on Thursday morning and make a good start to their response with the bat, the balance of the series will be tipping firmly in their favour. The pitch does not appear to hold any demons, and there could be a long day in the field in store for India.
Only one change was made to the England bowling attack ahead of this Test, with Steven Finn coming in for Stuart Broad who has looked devoid of form. Judging by the first day in Kolkata,it is hard to see the Nottinghamshire bowler getting back into a side containing two slow bowlers. James Anderson thoroughly deserved his return of 3-68, and Monty Panesar continued to make the decision to leave him out of the first Test look a baffling one. Following the comical run out of Virender Sehwag, England’s bowlers were able to prey on indecision and loose shots, and an improved fielding display ensured that opportunities, on the whole, did not go begging. Anderson and Finn will be able to start day two with a ball just four overs old, and MS Dhoni will be their primary concern. The tail may already be exposed, but India’s captain is capable of scoring quickly and the less of the strike he sees the better.
Despite this Test match being only one day old, England have put themselves in a position that has served them well in the past. When playing in seam-friendly conditions during their ascent to the top of the world rankings, they would frequently bowl first, limit the opponents to a low score and then set about batting themselves into a position from which they were unlikely to lose. On this occasion they have responded well to losing the toss, and have the opportunity to post a big score that will give their bowlers, who will hopefully be well rested, plenty of runs to play with. Ian Bell is back in the side after his brief hiatus, and will be looking to make his first significant contribution of the series, and with Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen in good touch after their centuries in Mumbai, there is a real opportunity for England to take complete control of this match.