Sunday, 18 November 2012

Steady Cook Gives England Hope

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Alastair Cook batted throughout day four to give England renewed hope of saving the first Test against India.

England closed on 340-5 in their second innings, a lead of 10 runs, after Cook and Matt Prior shared an unbroken partnership of 141 in 51 overs.

The sixth-wicket pair had come together with the tourists, who had been asked to follow-on the previous day, in deep trouble at 199-5.

Cook, in his first match since succeeding Andrew Strauss as England's Test captain, closed on 168 not out and has spent more than eight hours at the crease, facing 341 balls and hitting 20 fours so far. Prior found the boundary 10 times in an increasingly fluent 84 not out.

England's prospects of even taking their fight into the final day looked bleak when Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen all departed during the morning session after they resumed on 111-0.

Compton added three runs to his overnight 34 before being trapped lbw by left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan (1-38) with a delivery that held its line from over-the-wicket.

Trott made a start, reaching 17 off 43 balls but edged behind off India left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha (2-102), Mahendra Singh Dhoni holding a smart catch.

Ojha bowled Pietersen (2) for the second time in the match in his next over, Pietersen missing with a premeditated sweep.

England went to lunch on 182-3 but suffered a double blow in early afternoon when seam bowler Umesh Yadav (2-60) pinned Ian Bell (22) and Samit Patel (0) lbw with successive deliveries.

Cook, who became the first person in Test history to make centuries in each of his first three matches as captain, finally found a long-term ally in Prior and, as the day wore on, India began to run short of ideas on a pitch holding together better than anticipated.

India batsman Gautam Gambhir did not take the field on day four, having flown to Delhi following the death of his grandmother.

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