Thursday, 6 December 2012

India Vs England: Kolkata Day Two

On an historic day for England cricket fans around the globe, Captain Alastair Cook continued his golden form to score his 23rd Test century and break the record held by Wally Hammond. 
Hammond scored his last century for England 83 years ago and while Cowdrey, Boycott and Pietersen have all equalled his tally of 22, the honour of breaking one of crickets longest standing records fell to a man playing his 86th Test match, just one more than Hammond played in total, and he is certainly not finished yet.
By the time Cook left the field, with the honour of being the youngest player ever to reach 7,000 Test runs also in the bag, the feeling that the wheels had come off for India was not just evident, but blindingly obvious.
This was supposed to be the revenge series for India; all the TV adverts and newspaper articles were full of that word in the build up, but it is turning into a nightmare. Out-bowled by two English spinners in Mumbai, they have been comprehensively out-batted in Kolkata and England still has their most attacking players to come. The turnaround from Ahmedabad is hard to believe.
Nick Compton played his part. Although 18 months older than Cook, he is very much the junior in this partnership but showed excellent composure in registering his maiden Test fifty before being adjudged LBW to a delivery from Pragyan Ohja that flicked his glove.
Following his dismissal it was down to Jonathan Trott to continue his search for form as he moved to a calm 21* by the close, taking the deficit on first innings to 100.
As long as these two remain India know they are in for hard toil. There have been few chances, although Cheteshwar Pujara did miss a tough one at short leg when Cook was on 17, but since then the spinners have struggled to threaten on a pitch that looks benign while the seamers have not been able to swing the ball in the manner James Anderson did on day one.
For all the discipline Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma offered, they have a combined strike rate in 2012 of almost 300, which says as much about their form as it does about fast bowling in India in general.
England will want a first innings lead well in excess of 200 which would give them the best part of two days to bowl India out and take an unassailable lead in the series. There may be twists and turns yet, but right now India look as demoralised in the field as they did during the 4-0 whitewash in England 18 months ago – it will take something extraordinary to lift them from here.

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