A brilliant spell of spin bowling by Indian bowlers saw England follow-on after being dismissed for 191 in their first innings on Day Three of the first Test at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, here on Saturday.
England though fought back valiantly in their second and ended the day at 111 for none, but still 219 runs adrift of India’s first innings total of 521 for eight declared. Captain Alastair Cook (batting 74) and Nick Compton (batting 34) put on an unbeaten 111-run stand as England finally managed to negotiate India’s two spinners.
Earlier, Pragyan Ojha picked five wickets to help India dismiss England for 191 in their first innings and enforce the follow-on for an early tea break. Ojha (5-45) and Ravichandran Ashwin (3-80) exploited the conditions well to make life tough for the English batsmen, who struggled against the guile of the two spinners.
Ojha bowled Matt Prior (48) to end the innings and take his fourth five-wicket haul of his 16-match career. The follow-on looked very much on the cards after England were reduced to 110 for seven at lunch. “I am pretty pleased by taking a five-for against England in the first innings. They are a top side and are ranked No 2 in the world. But this is a long series and a lot of work needs to be done. I am not taking it easy,” he said.
Resuming the day on 41 for three, England lost Kevin Pietersen (17), Ian Bell (0) and captain Alistair Cook (41) in quick succession. England failed to come to terms with India’s spin attack with Ashwin and Ojha both taking their wicket tally to three. Except for Cook, no England batsman inspired confidence. They showed no faith in their defensive technique.
Pietersen was the first to go, castled by Ojha. He looked completely at sea against the Indian’s accurate bowling. “KP is a very good batsman and has scored lot of runs. I am happy to get him out. The key was to bowl in the right areas and allow the wicket to do the rest,” Ojha remarked. Bell was caught at mid-off off the very next ball. Cook, was foxed by a conventional off-spin delivery from Ashwin and was caught by Virender Sehwag at first slip.
Samit Patel (10) was the last English wicket to fall in the morning session. The all-rounder would count himself unlucky as he was adjudged lbw off a Umesh Yadav delivery that appeared to have missed the leg-stump. Ojha said the wicket had slowed down a bit and also lacked the bite it had on the first two days. “The wicket has slowed down and the bite that was there is missing. The first session tomorrow is crucial. We need to get quick wickets,” Ojha reiterated.