Alastair fails to Cook up a different story
Alastair Cook's heroic resistance ended in empty anti-climax as England lost the first Test to India by nine wickets at the Sardar Patel Stadium
The chances of a brave rearguard being commuted into a famous stalemate in this first match of four centred on Cook (176) and Matt Prior (91) on the final day.
But they could augment their combined defiance by only 16 more runs this morning — and with their stand of 157 broken, England lost their last five wickets for only 50 in a lunchtime 406 all out.
India’s resulting target of 77 was then treated with near contempt by Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara, whose aggression put paid to any fanciful notion that Graeme Swann’s off-spin might yet make life difficult on a worn pitch.
Sehwag was well caught by Kevin Pietersen on the long-on boundary off Swann, with only 20 more runs required.
But India’s unbeaten first-innings double-centurion Pujara — opening in place of the absent Gautam Gambhir — made no mistake and took his and Sehwag’s shared match aggregate to almost 400 runs to help finish the contest in only 15.3 overs. Cook and Prior had given England hope where none previously existed, after following on 330 runs behind two days ago.
The hugely admirable sixth-wicket stand ended, after exactly four hours, when Prior laid back to hit a short ball but was undone by a lack of pace and looped a simple catch back to Ojha. He had occupied 225 balls.
It was fitting too that it should be Ojha who finally got the England skipper.
But the real damage, of course, was done long ago — in a first innings Prior neatly summed up as a “shocker”, and by a middle order who in their eight collective attempts to make the substantial runs for which they were picked could mustered only 68 between them.
England must come up with some effective solutions to that problem — and several others, such as the balance and personnel of their bowling attack — if they are to be competitive in the second Test, starting in Mumbai on Friday.
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