Ahmedabad: Nov 17, 2012
England openers Alastair Cook (74*) and Nick Compton (34*) defied India’s bowling attack in the second innings to reduce their deficit to 219 runs in the final session of Day Three of the first Test at Ahmedabad, after being asked to follow on by Mahendra Singh Dhoni. England had earlier slumped to 191 all-out in their first innings, after India declared theirs on 521 for eight, and reached 111 for nought at Stumps.
India dominated the first two sessions of the day, taking seven wickets for 150 runs, before England fought back in the third to end a see-saw day on Nelson. Despite their bright start to the second innings, England still have a herculean task ahead of them if they are to save this match. India still find themselves firmly in the driver’s seat, even though hopes of bowling England out for an innings victory would have been dented.
In England’s second venture out with the bat at Motera, Captain Cook, who was the second-highest scorer in the first innings with 41, was at his solid best as he sent 13 hits to the fence for a 124-ball 74. Compton supported his skipper well with a patient 34 off 104 balls, as the Indian bowlers retired for the day after a fruitless third session. Even the man with the golden arm, Sachin Tendulkar, got a bowl towards the end of the day’s play but could do nothing to unsettle the English openers.
Earlier, Pragyan Ojha took five wickets as England slumped to 191 all-out, to bring on an early Tea break. The hosts, taking a first-innings lead of 330 runs, enforced the follow-on.
England keeper Matt Prior was the last wicket to fall in England’s first innings after a fighting knock of 48 as the wickets tumbled around him.
Earlier in the second session, Prior and Tim Bresnan (19) shared a 47-run partnership — the highest stand of the innings — to frustrate the Indian bowling attack, before Ojha picked up his fourth wicket after an hour’s play. Bresnan, who had played a patient 19 off 60 balls, was undone by some extra nip off the pitch as the ball clipped the shoulder of his bat and went to Virat Kohli at gully.
In the first session, Pragyan Ojha spun his web around the English batsmen to restrict them to 110 for seven at Lunch. Ojha picked up the vital wickets of Kevin Pietersen (17) and Ian Bell (0) in one over after England barely managed to survive the first 30 minutes of play before the wickets tumbled.
Pietersen was living on the edge right from the first over of the day after seemingly being dropped by MS Dhoni and almost getting run-out by Gautam Gambhir at silly point off Ojha’s bowling. Dhoni then missed a stumping in Ojha’s next over to give Pietersen three lives in as many overs.
Pietersen was struggling to judge Ojha’s left-arm spin. After surviving a few near misses, Ojha finally had his man in the 33rd over after his delivery went straight after pitching and beat Pietersen’s outside edge. Ojha wasn’t done yet as lured next man in Ian Bell to waltz down the pitch to a flighted delivery and lob it straight down mid-off’s throat. Ojha missed the hat-trick, but almost had Cook two balls later as 15,000 people shouted for lbw, only to be turned down by umpire Tony Hill.
Cook, who was holding fort all this while, was soon to go after he nicked an Ashwin delivery that viciously spun to first slip where Virender Sehwag scooped it up.
This was after India started the day as they ended the last with spin at both ends. Ashwin and Ojha pumped up the pressure on the English batsmen right from the word go and soon reaped rewards. Such was the dominance of India’s spin attack on this Motera track that pacer Umesh Yadav got his first bowl only in the 48th over of the innings. And the lanky Vidharbha lad responded immediately as he trapped Samit Patel (10) in front. Replays showed that the ball would’ve just missed leg-stump as Patel walked back shaking his head.
Brief Scores: India 521 for 8 dec. (Cheteshwar Pujara 206, Virender Sehwag 117; Graeme Swann 5 for 144) lead England 191 (Alastair Cook 41, Kevin Pietersen 17; Pragyan Ojha 5 for 45, R Ashwin 3 for 80) and 111 for 0 (Alastair Cook 74, Nick Compton 34) by 219 runs.