Swann overtakes Laker tally as India make tourists toil

ENGLAND spinner Graeme Swann enjoyed a personal milestone after he took all four wickets but failed to prevent Indian taking the upper hand on day one of the first Test in Ahmedabad yesterday.

Swann’s haul, which included centurion Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, took his career total to 194 wickets, eclipsing the great Jim Laker as England’s most successful off-spinner.

“It is a proud moment,” he said. “I’m always saying I’m not one for stats, but when people told me I was near to Jim Laker I was genuinely excited. I’m very honoured to go past him.”

India finished on 323-4, thanks largely to a rampaging start in which Sehwag (117) claimed his first ton for almost two years off just 90 balls and shared an opening partnership of 134 with Gautam Gambhir as the hosts were allowed to hit through the offside too often.

Poor fielding let England down as the tourists dropped four crucial catches. The most costly drop occurred when the impressive Cheteshwar Pujarea hit a leading edge off Tim Bresnan whilst on eight. James Anderson darted in from mid-on but the ball just about looped over his head.

Pujara accumulated 98 not out, although the tourists curtailed the run rate as the day wore on, Swann also taking the wickets of Tendulkar (13) and Virat Kohli (19).

Swann had to bowl 32 overs as Nottinghamshire all-rounder Samit Patel was largely ineffective with the ball and perhaps failed to justify his selection ahead of left-arm spinner Monty Panesar.

“Having lost the toss on that pitch, we’d obviously have liked five or six wickets – but we’ll take four,” Swann added. “At lunchtime, we sat down and came up with a new gameplan, because I don’t think we bowled quite straight enough in the first session.”