Alastair Cook, Matt Prior fight for survival – First Test vs. India

England 1st innings 191 (Matt Prior 48, Alastair Cook 41, Pragyan Ojha 5-45) and 2ndinnings 5-340 (Cook 168*, Matt Prior 84*, Umesh Yadav 2-69) leads India 8-521 (Cheteshwar Pujara 206*, Virender Sehwag 117, Graeme Swann 5-144) by 10 runs

The skipper of England, Alastair Cook along with Matt Prior taught the rest of their team mates how to bat under pressure while playing magnificent knocks.

India declared their first innings after making a huge score of 521 for the loss of 8 wickets in the first innings. England faced humiliation in their first innings when they were bowled out for 191 mere runs and faced a follow on. The visitors were running towards the same fate after losing 5-199 in their second innings before Alastair Cook and Matt Prior took them out of the danger of an innings defeat and they reached 340 at the close of the fourth day’s play.

Alastair Cook - Leading from the front
Alastair Cook – Leading from the front

The battle of supremacy continued on Sunday, November 18, 2012, which was the fourth day of the first Test at Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad.

Earlier, England initiated the day at 111 after consuming 38 overs without losing any wicket in the second innings and was still 219 runs behind the mammoth Indian total. Alastair Cook was playing a captain’s knock at 74 and Nick Compton was assisting him well for 34 from the other end. The batsmen started the day with utmost care without taking any chances but MS Dhoni missed a stumping of Compton on the second ball of the 44th over bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin for 36 runs. The batsman did not utilize the chance and was declared leg before wicket off Zaheer Khan on the last ball of the next over for 37.

The openers established a solid platform by contributing 123 runs when Jonathan Trott entered the park. The second wicket partnership associated 33 runs and took the score to 156 as Trott was caught behind by Dhoni off Pragyan Ojha for 17 runs. The poor form of Kevin Pietersen with the bat continued and he was clean bowled by Ojha for just two runs as Ian Bell joined with Cook.

The pair started the repair work and Alastair Cook hammered his 21st Test ton on the third ball of the 61st over with two runs. He became the only captain to smash three hundreds in the first three Tests. Cook has dispatched 173 on March 12, 2010, at Chittagong and unbeaten 109 on March 20, 2012, at Dhaka, vs. Bangladesh as a skipper previously as England won the two Test series 2-0.

The pair crept to 199 when Bell was held lbw off Umesh Yadav for 22 runs on the fifth ball of the 77th over. The miseries for the visitors were multiplied when Samit Patel was gone on the very next ball in the identical fashion and England was reeling at 5-199 in 77 overs. The wicketkeeper batsman, Matt Prior, walked in next under the trying conditions and got together with Cook who was stranded at the other end. Prior took his chances and preferred to attack by hitting a couple of fours in the 83rd over.

The duo kept the score board moving and Prior achieved his 23rd Test fifty on the first delivery off the 104th over with a couple of runs. Cook reached his 150 two overs later and 300 of the innings was reached on the first ball of the 110th over. Dhoni deployed seven bowlers to separate the partnership but remained unsuccessful as the two batsmen kept on cruising while adding useful runs. The scores were leveled on the second ball of the 122nd over when Prior hit a four off Ojha.

England added another 10 runs before the close of the play as 340 runs were displayed on board with five wickets in hand. Alastair Cook was marshalling his troops with a superb knock of 168 off 341 with 20 fours whereas Matt Prior was in a commanding form at the other end at 84 from 190 balls with 10 fours.

Umesh Yadav and Pragyan Ojha were the most successful bowlers of India with two wickets each as Zaheer Khan held one.

England has avoided the innings defeat and the current form of Cook along with  Prior can take them out of danger and they may surprise India on the final day. The hosts will look forward to penetrate through the remaining wickets early to win the match.


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