KOLKATA, Dec 9 (PTI): A listless India succumbed to their second successive humiliating defeat on home soil has England overcame a few hiccups to clinch the third cricket Test with an emphatic seven-wicket victory and take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four match series here today.
Needing 41 runs to win the match after dismissing India for 247 in the second innings, the visitors lost three quick wickets to add a tinge of excitement to an otherwise lop-sided contest before cruising home with more than two sessions to spare.
Captain Alastair Cook (1), Jonathan Trott (3) and Kevin Pietersen (0) were out cheaply but Ian Bell (28 not out) held his nerve to take the team to the victory target at the Eden Gardens.
Bell took a single off R Ashwin to bring about England’s moment of triumph, triggering of scenes of celebrations in the dressing room as the players hugged each other and took a round of the stadium.
With another resounding victory, England kept themselves on course for their first series win on Indian soil in 28 years since David Gower-led team won a series 2-1 in the 1984-85 series.
Though the Indian bowlers took three wickets in the second innings, they looked completely ineffective in the first innings unlike the English bowlers who exploited the conditions far better.
After the humiliating 10-wicket defeat in Mumbai, the hosts once again seemed clueless in their own den with neither batting nor bowling clicking, raising questions on whether some players need to be changed.
The two teams will now travel to Nagpur for the fourth and final cricket Test beginning December 13. England just need a draw to record a historic series triumph while India have no option but to win to level the series and save the blushes of a seires defeat in their own den.
Ravichandran Ashwin shone with the bat with a gritty 91 not out in India’s second innings before the off-spinner dented England’s 41-run chase, knocking off the wickets of Cook and Pietersen.
But before it went from bad to worse, Ian Bell (28) and Nick Compton (nine) steered the team to a seven-wicket victory to hand India back to back Test defeats at their own backyard, for the first time in 12 years.
It was India’s first loss at the Eden Gardens in more than a decade as the last time thay had lost at the historic venue to Pakistan in the Asian Test Championship on February 16, 1999.
India had last lost two Tests on the trot at home to South Africa in 2000 when Tendulkar-led the country to back to back defeats in Mumbai and Bangalore.
In 2004, Rahul Dravid-led India drew against Australia in a match interrupted by rains in Chennai in between two Test defeats in Bangalore and Nagpur. In that series, India had won the last Test in Mumbai to go down 1-2, the last time India had lost a series at their own backyard.
India 1st Innings: 316
England 1st Innings: 523
India 2nd innings: Gautam Gambhir c Prior b Finn 40, Virender Sehwag b Swann 49, Cheteshwar Pujara run out 8, Sachin Tendulkar c Trott b Swann 5, Virat Kohli c Prior b Finn 20, Yuvraj Singh b Anderson 11, MS Dhoni c Cook b Anderson 0, R Ashwin not out 91, Zaheer Khan lbw b Finn 0, Ishant Sharma b Panesar 10, Pragyan Ojha b Anderson 3. Extras: (B-8, LB-2) 10. Total: (all out; 84.4 overs) 247. Fall of wickets: 1-86, 2-98, 3-103, 4-107, 5-122, 6-122, 7-155, 8-159, 9-197. Bowling: James Anderson 15.4-4-38-3, ST Finn 18-6-45-3, Monty Panesar 22-1-75-1, Graeme Swann 28-9-70-2, Samit Patel 1-0-9-0.
England 2nd innings: Alastair Cook st Dhoni b Ashwin 1, Nick Compton not out 9, Jonathan Trott lbw b Ojha 3, Kevin Pietersen c Dhoni b Ashwin 0, Ian Bell not out 28. Total: (3 wickets; 12.1 overs) 41. Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-7, 3-8. Bowling: R Ashwin 6.1-1-3-1, Pragyan Ojha 6-3-10-1.