Chennai, Dec 12 (IANS) England hung on grimly even as wickets fell to stretch their first innings to 294 for eight at lunch on the second day of the first Test against India at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, here Friday.
The exit of Andrew Flintoff (4) in the second over of the morning at the overnight total of 229 for five indicated a swift end to the England innings. However, Matt Prior (39 batting) offered stubborn resistance in the company of the tail-enders to extend the visitors' innings.
The session began promisingly for India when Flintoff offered a pad-bat catch off leg-spinner Amit Mishra to Gautam Gambhir at short-leg.
The Indians should have had another wicket soon after, but Rahul Dravid at slips put down an edge off night watchman James Anderson, then on six, to deny Ishant Sharma his first wicket of the match.
Prior and Anderson (19) added 42 runs for the sixth wicket before Mishra broke the partnership. Anderson top-edged an attempted sweep shot to offer Yuvraj Singh a simple catch.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh then removed debutant Graeme Swann who was taken at slips after the ball brushed the gloves and got deflected off wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni en route to Dravid.
Prior, who was chosen ahead of Tim Ambrose as a 'better batting option', justified his election with a typically dour innings and more importantly, took England closer to the 300-run mark.
Both Harbhajan and Mishra extracted some sharp turn and bounce that is likely to become more pronounced as the match progresses.