England wobbled on the final morning but there was no denying Alastair Cook's team as they completed a seven-wicket win at the Eden Gardens to take a 2-1 lead in the series. England have not won a series in India for 28 years but this side are now odds-on to end that streak.
Pragyan Ojha fell in the second over of the day, leaving Ashwin stranded on 91. England lost Cook to a rush of blood and Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen followed soon after to leave them 8 for 3 and raise the possibility of another Eden miracle. However, Ian Bell played some lovely strokes in a composed 28 to see England across the line without any further trouble.
Yesterday, a spineless India were on the verge of a second successive humiliating defeat in their own backyard against England who were within sniffing distance of an emphatic victory in the third cricket Test here today. After conceding a mammoth 207-run lead, India’s famed batsmen put up a pathetic display but R Ashwin and the tailenders delayed the inevitable as the hosts reached 239 for nine at close on the penultimate day.
Ashwin, who flopped as a bowler, provided some resistance as the last two wickets added 80 runs after being at a precarious 159 for eight at one stage, forcing the game to stretch into the fifth day with India having a slender lead of 32.
Ashwin struck back to back boundaries to Swann to notch up his third half-century that also helped India avoid the humiliation of an innings loss at the Eden Gardens, which registered the highest attendance today. Lacklustre with his off-spin, Ashwin delighted the crowd with a straight drive of Anderson, following it up with a pull of Steven Finn as India ensured England had to bat again.
Ashwin’s shared a 38-run ninth wicket partnership with Ishant Sharma (10) to avoid an innings victory and later he stitched an undefeated 42 runs with Pragyan Ojha (3 batting).
The English turnaround came in the post-lunch session as India lost six wickets for 36 runs as their fight to save the match went up in smoke. Earlier, the first session belonged to India who dominated the proceedings — both with the ball and bat — for the first time in the match. First, India scalped four wickets in 4.3 overs to restrict England’s first innings lead to 207 as they managed to add 14 runs to their overnight total.
<b>With inputs from PTI</b>