Captain Alastair Cook finished day four with an unbeaten 168 as England fought hard to try and salvage a draw in the first Test against India yesterday.
Cook batted throughout the day, supported by wicket-keeper Matt Prior, who scored an unbeaten 84, to give England a chance to draw the Test match when they take the field today.
England finished at 340 for five in their second-innings, a lead of 10 runs, thanks to a gutsy partnership of 141 runs between Cook and Prior. The sixth-wicket pair had come together with the tourists, who had been asked to follow-on, struggling at 199 for five.
Cook, who was playing his first match since succeeding Andrew Strauss as Test captain, spent in excess of eight hours on the crease, facing 341 balls and scoring 20 fours, finishing the day on 168 not out. His partner Prior played an aggressive knock with 10 boundaries to score a fluent 84 not out and give the tourists new hope of surviving the Test match.
England batting coach Graham Gooch praised Cook and believed the match in Ahmedabad is ‘still alive’.
“There is a lot of fight in this England team and Alastair Cook played a real captain’s knock today,” Gooch told Sky Sports News. “He is one of the best players in the world. He cuts, sweeps, plays straight and also defends well. He crafted the innings, he was not flamboyant. It was an incredible effort.”
“India are still in a good position but the game is alive. From the England camp’s point of view it’s been a very good day, it has been very satisfying to watch Alastair bat.”
Gooch refused to put blame on the pitch in Ahmedabad for England’s disappointing effort in the first-innings when they were bowled out for only 191.
“I don’t think the pitch is a bad pitch at all, it is turning a bit, but nothing you don’t expect in this part of the world. I don’t think there are any demons in it and our batsmen today have shown that, they have played with a lot of application and skill.”
Indian fast-bowler Umesh Yadav, who took two wickets for 60 in the second innings, said they will have to put in a big effort on the final day of the match to bowl England out on a ‘pitch that has become flat’.
“The wicket has become very flat,” Yadav told The Times of India. “It helped the spinners earlier on but it has now become very easy to bat on it. There is no help for the bowlers. We have to put in a lot of effort to get something out of it. I took my wickets after putting in a lot of effort and I need to continue doing so.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2012.
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