James Anderson was rewarded for skilful swing bowling with three wickets on the opening day of the third Test, including the prize scalp of Sachin Tendulkar, for the eighth time.
Anderson was the linchpin of a disciplined England attack which earned an advantageous position as India closed day one of the third Test on 273 for seven at Eden Gardens.
Tendulkar (76) and Gautam Gambhir (60) ensured the hosts remain competitive but neither could convert from 50 to 100.
Anderson and Steven Finn got through 41 overs between them, statistical evidence of the fact pace as well as spin is an important weapon in this match.
Specifically, reverse swing was the method which served Anderson best, although he bowled effectively when the ball was new as well as old.
He acknowledged afterwards that some of the tricks of his trade were learned from India’s Zaheer Khan, another example of England playing their hosts at their own game – as they did in Mumbai last week, where the spinners came out on top.
Anderson (three for 68) also reflected on his habit of dismissing Tendulkar. He shares the distinction of seeing off the Little Master eight times with the great Muttiah Muralitharan - but, wisely, did not go along with a mischievous suggestion that Tendulkar is his “bunny”.
“I wouldn’t say that,” said Anderson. “It’s a nice thing to have, and I’ll probably think more about it in years to come when I’ve retired and tell everyone that has happened.”
More important to Anderson and England, in a series level at 1-1 with two to play, was that Tendulkar was beginning to look dangerous just as he was out. “It was a crucial wicket because it looked like he was set,” said Anderson. “I was really pleased to get him out when I did. He’s such a class player that, when he gets in like that, he can go on and get a big hundred.”