Sunday, 18 November 2012

India Vs England: Ahmedabad Day Three

England fans arrived at the ground hopeful that the first session would emulate those of the opening two days - no wickets and a few runs. That hope did not last long, but they will return tomorrow morning hoping once more. 

Pragyan Ojha turned out to be the tormentor-in-chief, but realistically it was more the demons in England minds that did the damage. Kevin Pietersen was frenetic from the off, and was eventually undone by left-arm spin once more as he was squared up by Ojha and had his middle stump pegged back. If that was forgivable, what happened next will live long in the mind of Ian Bell. 

At 69/4 and still more than 450 behind, Bell needed to support his Captain. Alastair Cook was looking solid enough and is a player with a reputation for obdurate batting. Instead, in an misguided attempt to impose himself on the spinners, he chipped lamely to mid-off very first ball and plunged his team further into the depths. He was later spotted in the dressing room with furrowed brow and deep in conversation with England batting coach Graham Gooch. Not hard to imagine what was being said there. 

There was brave resistance from Matt Prior and Tim Bresnan, who at least showed some application, while Stuart Broad counter-attacked with far more success than Bell, carving one delightful straight six, but when Prior was last out for 48 the England fans were finding it hard to ignore the symbolism of the lone vulture circling above the ground. 

It was unlikely that England would be so poor again. Ojha had claimed his five wickets in the first innings but Cook and Nick Compton did considerably better against him second time around. Seeing England through to the close means that the away side can finally claim victory in a session; it has taken nine. 

The unbroken partnership of 111 was not without its frights. Compton was dropped in the slips by Sehwag and Cook survived a convincing LBW appeal when on 37, but the new opening partnership did plenty of things very well indeed. The strike was rotated regularly, Compton played one delightful reverse sweep to the boundary early on and Cook seized on the bad balls to take his score to 74*. Rarely can he have outscored and opening partner so comprehensively. 

So the match has made it into a fourth day, and the England fans will be back, once more hoping that a wicketless first session can breath life into chances, but with the deficit still 219, there is an awfully long way to go if this match is to be taken even into a fifth day, let alone saved. 

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