Cook and Compton respond to Ojha
Alastair Cook and Nick Compton provided England with belated hope after Pragyan Ojha’s five-wicket haul had helped India secure a mammoth lead of 330 in the first Test at Ahmedabad.
The left-arm spinner delivered an immaculate display on day three, adding four wickets to his one on the previous evening as England crumbled to 191 all out prior to tea.
Only Cook and Matt Prior, with 41 and 48 respectively, made any real impression for the tourists, who had resumed on 41 for three.
Faced with a huge deficit, England at least made a much better fist of things after the follow-on was predictably enforced by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Exhibiting solid defensive techniques and a willingness to punish the occasional loose delivery, the captain and his debutant opening partner shared an unbroken partnership of 111 to reduce their side’s deficit to 219 at stumps.
Much hard work lies ahead if England are to complete a remarkable recovery mission, yet they can at least take heart from the grit and determination shown by Cook and Compton, who closed on 74 and 34.
Each survived a significant scare at the hands of the threatening Ojha. Compton had 23 to his name when he edged to the left of second slip, where Virat Kohli could only get his fingertips to the ball, while Cook, who cut the spinners with authority on several occasions, can count himself fortunate not to have been given out lbw after being struck plumb in front on 41.
Ojha’s control of length was exemplary throughout England’s first innings and he removed Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell with successive deliveries to strengthen India’s position this morning.
Pietersen, who could have been bowled, stumped, run out and lbw inside an incident-packed opening 20 minutes, was cleaned up for 17, while Bell danced down the track first ball but succeeded only in picking out Sachin Tendulkar at mid-off.
Cook then edged to slip on the drive to become Ashwin’s third victim and seamers Umesh Yadav and Zaheer Khan chipped in with a wicket apiece either side of Ojha accounting for Tim Bresnan, who shared 47 with the defiant Prior.
England’s wicketkeeper-batsman was the last man out, bowled for 48 aiming an expansive drive through the off side.
Live Text Commentary
11:01am - STUMPS – Eng 111/0; Cook 74, Compton 34 - The final overs from Ojha and Ashwin are safely negotiated. After the horrors of the first innings, England’s opening pair have launched a truly terrific fightback after tea. There is still plenty to do, with India 219 ahead, but the tourists now have renewed hope.
10:55am - Cook and Compton have grown in confidence as the evening has worn on and have 74 and 32 to their respective names. If nothing else, they have shown England’s other batsmen how to prosper in these conditions. Cook greets Ashwin’s reintroduction with a glorious cover-driven four and there should be time for two more overs this evening.
10:47am – CENTURY PARTNERSHIP - The greatest batsman of his generation is going to turn his arm over before stumps. Sachin Tendulkar mixes off-spin with leg-breaks in his first set of six, but Cook strikes two more fours, through cover and fine-leg, to take England into three figures.
10:43am - It really will be a huge boost to England if they can come through this session unscathed. We have already seen how difficult it can be for batsmen when they first come to the crease. Yadav is operating at a healthy pace, but India’s search for a second-innings wicket continues.
10:35am - Cook guides the returning Yadav down to third man to register his 10th four. This is just what the doctor ordered.
10:25am - FIFTY! Cook (94b 9x4 0x6) - Another boundary for Cook, who helps himself as Ashwin delivers a dreadful long-hop. Profiting from the spinner looping up a leg-stump full toss, the skipper sweeps with power. Oh, and that’s another shocker from Ojha, whose short delivery is pulled to herald the opener’s half-century. Hurrah!
10:18am - I have to be honest, I’m still not sure how the skipper got away with that one. It looked stone dead. Thankfully, there have been no more scares since then and England’s opening pair have now put on 68.
10:10am – Ashwin has not learned his lesson and is once again cut to the fence when dropping short to Cook, who then sweeps Ojha for four. Thirty-six of the opener’s 41 runs thus far have come in boundaries, but he can count himself very lucky as umpire Aleem Dar somehow fails to raise the finger when Cook - sweeping - is struck plumb in front of middle stump.
10:03am – DROPPED CHANCE - A close shave for Compton, although it may be harsh to call this a chance. The right-hander edges Ojha to the left of second slip, where Kohli just about manages to get his fingertips to the ball before it goes to ground.
10am - It would appear Ojha is fine; he’s back on to bowl after the drinks interval. Ashwin then delivers his best over in some time, a probing maiden to Cook.
9:51am - Cook and Compton continue to fight back strongly and a tickle around the corner from the former brings up England’s first fifty partnership in this match.
9:40am – Ojha leaves the field clutching his right elbow. It was an innocuous incident and hopefully he has not suffered a serious injury. Harbhajan Singh comes on as a substitute fielder,and receives a warm welcome from the home fans.
9:38am - With the exception of the momentary blip against Sehwag, Cook appears to have found the ideal approach here. England’s captain is maintaining a strong defence, but putting away anything loose. He cuts Ojha for four on this occasion to move to 26. Compton then drives Ashwin behind point to collect his second boundary and there is concern for India later in the over as Ojha picks up an injury when fielding. I’m not sure what the problem is, but he appears to be in some pain.
9:30am - Mahendra Singh Dhoni springs a surprise by turning to the part-time off-spin of Virender Sehwag. The move almost pays dividends when Cook nibbles at an innocuous delivery outside off stump and sees an edge fall short of Virat Kohli at slip. Ojha has switched again and is back on at the GMDC End, from where he claimed all five of his first-innings wickets.
9:23am - Ashwin drops short and Cook’s eyes light up; he will cut deliveries like that to the boundary all day long. A cover-driven four follows when the bowler over-compensates by sending down a juicy half-volley.
9:17am - Cook follows Compton’s lead with some aggressive intent of his own. The skipper advances to Ojha, who has replaced Yadav, and produces an effortless clip over midwicket for four.
9:10am - Back-to-back maidens are not enough to keep Ojha in the attack as Ravichandran Ashwin is introduced. The off-spinner is unable to make much of an impression in either of his first two overs, with both openers adopting a cautious approach. That is, at least, until Compton reverse-sweeps for four. I didn’t see that coming!
8:57am - Following another maiden from Ojha, Compton collects his first run with a long single into the leg side off Yadav. England are four without loss after five overs.
8:48am - Spin is utilised from the opposite end and Pragyan Ojha sees an early appeal for lbw against Compton turned down. I think that was just drifting down leg. Cook finally gets England off the mark by taking two from the fifth ball of Yadav’s second over.
8:40am - We will have pace from the outset this time. Umesh Yadav takes the new cherry and starts with a maiden.
8:35am - Right then, time for England to have another go with the bat. Alastair Cook and Nick Compton have returned to the middle and we can only hope that a better performance is on the way from the tourists’ top order.
8:16am – WICKET! Prior b Ojha 48; Eng 191 all out - Zaheer is convinced he has Graeme Swann first up, but umpire Dar rules that the ball was doing too much from round the wicket. It won’t matter, as Prior is then bowled looking to drive Ojha, who finishes with wonderful figures of 5-45.
8:10am – WICKET! Broad lbw Zaheer 25; Eng 187/8 - More swing for Zaheer, too much in fact as Broad is struck on the front pad by one that would have drifted down leg. England’s vice-captain is not so lucky in the next over, however, when a second lbw appeal proves successful.
7:58am - There are few positives for England to take in these circumstances, but the defiance of Prior must be applauded. He moves to 47 with a swept four off Ashwin.
7:49am - Broad drills Ashwin past mid-off and then clears the ropes with a clean hit down the ground. Attack is proving the best form of defence for the left-hander, who has 20 from 10 balls.
7:45am - Stuart Broad is not going to die wondering. He clubs Ojha over midwicket for four to get off the mark immediately. Zaheer is finding a bit of reverse now, as if England were not in enough trouble.
7:37am - WICKET! Bresnan c Kohli b Ojha 19; Eng 144/8 - The return of Ojha brings another breakthrough for India. Bresnan pushes forward unconvincingly and the ball slides off the shoulder of his bat to second slip, where Virat Kohli makes no mistake. That marks the end of a 47-run stand.
7:34am - Ashwin has been a touch inconsistent in this spell and batting is looking a little easier. As I type that, Zaheer appeals for lbw against Bresnan. Umpire Aleem Dar is not interested, with the ball seemingly hitting bat before pad.
7:20am - Zaheer Khan takes over from Yadav and concedes four when Prior drives with an open face through backward point. This is now the biggest partnership of the innings, but a further 184 runs are needed if England are to avoid the follow-on.
7:10am – DROPPED CHANCE - Ashwin replaces Ojha and deceives Bresnan with a carrom ball, but the usually reliable Virender Sehwag is unable to hold on to an edge at slip. The fielder rose too early and ended up having to reach downwards with his left hand. Another over then passes from Yadav, who has not been as effective since the interval.
7:02am - England’s situation remains rather desperate, but Prior and Bresnan are at least digging in here. The former looks increasingly comfortable against the pace of Yadav and I imagine it won’t be long before we see spin from both ends once again.
6:54am – Yadav, showing a willingness to bowl as full as possible, delivers a maiden, before Tim Bresnan drives Ojha through the covers for four to get off the mark. Matt Prior then picks up a boundary of his own in the same region off Yadav.
6:43am - Back under way in Ahmedabad and no surprise to see Pragyan Ojha continuing. Umesh Yadav will also have another burst; he worked up some good pace prior to lunch.
6:01am – LUNCH – Eng 110/7; Prior 20, Bresnan 0 - Prior and Tim Bresnan see the tourists through to lunch, with the former having picked up a couple of off-side boundaries. However, even the most optimistic England follower would do well to see a way out of this situation. India are in complete control.
5:46am – WICKET! Patel lbw Yadav 10; Eng 97/7 - Patel was fortunate with an lbw shout earlier in his innings; this time he is unlucky. Yadav finally gets a bowl and strikes in his first over, although this full delivery looked to be sliding down the leg side.
5:41am – DROPPED CHANCE - It was merely a change of ends for Ashwin, who takes over from Ojha. He should be celebrating a fourth wicket when Prior pulls a full toss to Zaheer Khan at deep square-leg, but the fielder makes a mess of the chance.
5:31am - Patel is fortunate not to be given out lbw when Ashwin strikes him on the pad from round the wicket. That looked plumb, I have to say. India’s premier off-spinner is then replaced by Yuvraj Singh.
5:18am – WICKET! Cook c Sehwag b Ashwin 41; Eng 80/6 - Now the captain falls. Cook attempts to drive a flighted delivery and gets a thick edge to Virender Sehwag at slip. Matt Prior walks out with a further 242 needed just to avoid the follow-on.
5:09am - Ashwin returns to the attack, but it is Ojha who remains the stand-out performer. The left-armer’s control of length has been immaculate this morning and he beats Samit Patel on two occasions in his latest set of six, which ends with Cook sweeping for four.
5am - Drinks are taken with England having lost two wickets for one run in the last six overs.
4:53am - It’s all happening out there. Ojha comes close to three wickets in as many balls when Cook nudges one just short of leg slip. England’s skipper then faces a huge lbw shout, which thankfully proves unsuccessful.
4:50am –WICKET! Bell c Tendulkar b Ojha 0; Eng 69/5 - Goodness me, Ian Bell will not want to see this again. The Warwickshire man looks to take the attack to Ojha from ball one, but succeeds only in skying a catch to Sachin Tendulkar at mid-off. That is not what England required. Ojha is on a hat-trick.
4:48am – WICKET! Pietersen b Ojha 17; Eng 69/4 - Cook is content to block as Zaheer maintains a good line on and around off stump. Pietersen’s unconvincing stay at the crease is then brought to an end as he plays around a straight ball from Ojha to be bowled. England’s number four just could not get settled this morning.
4:41am - Seam is introduced in the form of the experienced Zaheer Khan, who starts with a maiden to Cook. India’s other paceman, Umesh Yadav, has yet to bowl in this innings. Ojha is still posing plenty of problems for Pietersen.
4:34am - A rare loose delivery from Ojha is punished as Cook cuts confidently for four. Ashwin then serves up a full toss and the captain cashes in again, this time through midwicket. I don’t think we’ll be having any problems fitting 90 overs in today, with the spinners racing through their work at present.
4:24am - Ojha has represented the main threat this morning. He sees an lbw appeal against Pietersen turned down, with the batsman benefiting from a huge forward stride. Ashwin, meanwhile, has yet to concede a run today.
4:18am - Pietersen continues to have trouble picking the length. After clipping Ojha through midwicket for four, he sees a leading edge fall short of backward point. Cook also tries to play against the turn in the next over and is relieved to see the ball fly narrowly wide of the bowler.
4:10am - Ravichandran Ashwin finds turn to beat Alastair Cook’s defensive push outside off, before Pietersen enjoys another stroke of luck. The tall right-hander comes down the track again to Ojha and is almost bowled behind his legs, with Dhoni missing the opportunity to effect a stumping.
4:03am - Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha gets us started and almost cleans up Kevin Pietersen with his first ball, which spun past the outside edge and off stump before deflecting off Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s gloves for a bye. Later in the over, Pietersen dashes down the pitch and is almost run out by the fielder at silly point. A nervy opening!
3:57am - One thing is for sure, England can expect to face plenty of spin in the remainder of the game. Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha are responsible for all three Indian breakthroughs so far, having continued their productive partnership at Test level. Play is just about to begin, so let’s see what they can do today.
3:50am - Samit Patel certainly remained upbeat when he faced the media after stumps on day two. You can read his thoughts here, while we also have Cheteshwar Pujara’s reaction to his tremendous 206 not out.
3:40am - If you’re looking for a positive, may I remind you that England have only lost two frontline batsmen, with nightwatchman James Anderson the second man to depart yesterday evening. That leaves Graeme Swann as the tourists’ number 11, so there is plenty of batting to come. We have also yet to see a wicket fall in a morning session during this match. It would be a significant boost if that trend continued today.
3:30am - Hello again. I hope you’re feeling optimistic because England have a challenge on their hands in the first Test at Ahmedabad’s Sardar Patel Stadium. After India posted 521 for eight declared, Alastair Cook’s side were reduced to 41 for three by the end of the second day. The captain is still there, however, and will look to lead a fightback this morning alongside Kevin Pietersen.