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Fri 12 Dec 2008 04:57 PM

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England on top as debutant Swann strikes

Spin bowler takes two wickets in his first over to make India struggle in first Test.

England debutant Graeme Swann grabbed two wickets in his first over to spark a dramatic Indian collapse in the first cricket Test in Chennai on Friday.

India, replying to England's first innings total of 316, crashed to 155-6 by stumps on the second day, sending some 5,000 home fans into stunned silence at the Chidambaram stadium.

Swann, the 29-year-old off-spinner who played 15 one-day internationals before being handed his Test cap here, struck as soon as he was brought on by skipper Kevin Pietersen for the last over before tea.

He trapped Gautam Gambhir (19) leg-before with his third delivery after having an appeal for a catch at short-leg turned down by umpire Daryl Harper the previous ball.

Off the final delivery of the over, Swann earned another leg-before verdict against Rahul Dravid to emulate countryman Richard Johnson's feat of two first-over wickets on debut against Zimbabwe in 2003.

Swann's double strike followed the dismissal of opener Virender Sehwag in the sixth over, the batsman dragging a James Anderson delivery on to his stumps.

Sachin Tendulkar (37) and Venkatsai Laxman (24) put on 61 for the fourth wicket before the duo banished to return catches in the space of six deliveries, reducing India to 102-5.

Laxman was beaten in the air by left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, while Tendulkar, the world's leading Test batsman, was removed by Andrew Flintoff with the first delivery of a new spell.

Steve Harmison struck shortly before close when Yuvraj Singh, who turned 27 on Friday, was snapped up in the slips for 14.

At stumps, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was on 24 and Harbhajan Singh was on 13 with India still trailing by 161 runs.

Earlier, England's total was boosted by a defiant 53 not out from wicket-keeper Matt Prior in his first Test match since the tour of Sri Lanka a year ago.

Indian spinners Harbhajan and Amit Mishra claimed three wickets each as the tourists, who were 164-1 at one stage on the first day, lost their way in the middle-order before the late revival.

Nightwatchman Anderson gave the top order a batting lesson by holding his ground for almost two hours to score 19 that included a valuable sixth-wicket stand of 42 with Prior.

England recovered after Flintoff was dismissed in the day's third over before a run had been added to the overnight score of 229-5.

Dhoni's gamble to bring on Mishra after one over from seamer Ishant Sharma paid off when the leg-spinner forced Flintoff (18) to deflect a catch to short-leg with his fifth delivery.

Anderson batted till 30 minutes before lunch when he pulled Mishra to mid-wicket where Yuvraj took a low catch.

The Test is the first in cricket-mad India since last month's terror strikes in Mumbai that killed 172, including nine gunmen, and left more than 300 wounded.

The second and final Test will be played in the northern town of Mohali from December 19.

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