India overcome stubborn England
India completed a nine-wicket victory in the first Test at Ahmedabad after England’s second-innings defiance was eventually brought to an end on the final morning.
The tourists were dismissed for 406, with left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha having picked up the key wickets of Matt Prior and Alastair Cook, who struck 91 and 176 respectively, en route to figures of 4-120.
Ojha finished with nine wickets in the match and India wasted little time in chalking off a modest target of 77 inside 16 overs.
England were ultimately left to rue their first-innings failings, which saw them muster just 191 in reply to India’s 521 for eight declared.
Cook and Prior provided hope, but there was no way back for England once their sixth-wicket stand of 157 was brought to an end today.
Deceived by a delivery from Ojha that seemed to hold up in the pitch, Prior offered up a simple return catch.
Cook, playing back, was then bowled by one that kept low, having defied India for over nine hours in an epic demonstration of skill and concentration. If the shot that led to his dismissal hinted at fatigue, it was entirely understandable.
England’s tail was unable to extend the innings beyond lunch. Umesh Yadav had Stuart Broad caught and bowled off a leading edge, Graeme Swann was cleaned up attempting to switch-hit Ravichandran Ashwin for the umpteenth time and Tim Bresnan drove Zaheer Khan to cover.
With Gautam Gambhir absent due to a family bereavement, Cheteshwar Pujara partnered Virender Sehwag at the top of the order in India’s second innings.
Pujara had displayed his defensive solidity and staying power in striking an unbeaten 206 earlier in the match. On this occasion, he showed another side to his game with a series of sweetly-timed attacking strokes.
The 24-year-old finished unbeaten on 41 from 51 deliveries, while Sehwag dashed to 25 before being caught at long-on off Swann, leaving Virat Kohli to finish the job alongside Pujara.
Live Text Commentary
7:24am – END OF MATCH – INDIA WIN BY NINE WICKETS – The Cheteshwar Pujara show continues with the right-hander whipping Swann through midwicket for four. Kohli then drives Patel down the ground before repeating the trick off England’s off-spinner to wrap things up. Pujara finishes with 41 and, in the end, it was a comfortable victory for India.
7:13am - Pujara pulls for four again, this time off Swann. He has been joined by Virat Kohli and India are almost home.
7:08am – WICKET! Sehwag c Pietersen b Swann 25; Ind 57/1 - Sehwag takes the aerial route again, but doesn’t quite get hold of it. Kevin Pietersen takes a steepling chance at long-on and just about avoids stepping over the boundary rope.
7:01am - The hosts are making a statement here. Runs are flowing freely, with Pujara displaying particularly sweet timing. Just 24 more are needed.
6:52am - Samit Patel replaces Anderson and starts with a rank full-toss that Sehwag hammers over long-on for six. Pujara then pulls for four; we’ve seen that shot several times in this match.
6:48am - The classy Pujara is carrying on where he left off in the first innings. A glorious cover-driven four off Anderson takes him to 14 from 12 balls. Sehwag and Pujara then ease Swann through the same region. India are certainly not hanging around here.
6:41am - Graeme Swann was comfortably the pick of England’s attack in the first innings and will operate from the GMDC End. Pujara collects two fours through midwicket and India already have 14 on the board after two overs.
6:32am - Gautam Gambhir has been off the field, so Cheteshwar Pujara, a double-centurion earlier in the match, will open the batting for India alongside Virender Sehwag. James Anderson has the new ball in his hand.
5:54am – WICKET! Bresnan c sub (Rahane) b Zaheer 20; Eng 406 all out - India will need 77 to win after lunch. Bresnan attempts to drive Zaheer through the off side but picks out Ajinkya Rahane at short cover.
5:50am – WICKET! Swann b Ashwin 17; Eng 406/9 - Another reverse from Swann brings four through third man. However, he is then bowled when switching his stance once again.
5:43am – Ravichandran Ashwin is introduced. Swann responds with a nice reverse-sweep for two, but fails to connect when attempting to repeat the stroke. England have moved past 400 as lunch approaches.
5:37am - Swann gets off the mark by slog-sweeping Ojha for six. We’ll take another dozen of those Graeme! A full bunger from Zaheer is then flicked down to the rope at deep backward square.
5:26am - It’s very hard to see a way out of this for England now. Bresnan and Graeme Swann are hanging around, but will have to do so for another couple of hours at least to give the tourists a fighting chance.
5:12am – WICKET! Broad c & b Yadav 3; Eng 378/8 – I’m afraid this may not last much longer. Another wicket falls and it’s another caught and bowled dismissal. Broad looks to work Yadav across the line and gets a leading edge back to the tall seamer.
5:09am - Stuart Broad is alongside Bresnan, with England leading by 42. India will be full of confidence now that Cook has finally been ousted. Umesh Yadav has taken over from fellow paceman Zaheer.
4:57am – WICKET! Cook b Ojha 176; Eng 365/7 - That could well be the killer blow. Cook’s epic rearguard, one of the finest innings by an England batsman in recent memory, is brought to an end. The opener may regret playing back as an Ojha delivery kept low and turned in to take off stump. England now require a miracle.
4:54am - Bresnan is quickly into his work with a succession of singles. The Yorkshireman gets a long way across his stumps as Zaheer comes round the wicket and is then forced to dig out a dangerous yorker when the bowler changes his angle of attack.
4:46am – It is even more vital that Cook continues to hold firm now. He now has the highest score by any England batsman following on, having surpassed Ken Barrington’s 172 against India in Kanpur 51 years ago. Tim Bresnan is the captain's new partner.
4:38am – WICKET! Prior c & b Ojha 91; Eng 356/6 - After seeing Cook flick Zaheer to the fine-leg rope, Prior is caught and bowled when Ojha gets one to hold up in the pitch. The batsman was early on the stroke and looped up a simple return chance. That ends a wonderful innings and partnership.
4:30am - Cook nudges Zaheer into the leg side to bring up the 150 partnership. These two have now spent 59 overs together, which is a terrific effort. India’s left-arm bowling duo are operating with accuracy and discipline, but they remain frustrated.
4:23am - The first lbw shout of the morning is a hugely optimistic one from Ojha against England’s wicketkeeper-batsman. Prior is beaten by sharp spin later in the over, before his skipper moves on to 169 with a single off Zaheer.
4:13am – Matt Prior resumes his innings against left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who has taken seven wickets in this match so far. A back-foot push into the covers brings the first run of the day and Prior then thumps Zaheer through backward point for four.
4:05am - Zaheer Khan, who offered good variety yesterday, starts us off and forces a play-and-miss from Alastair Cook first ball. Solid defence sees out the remainder of the over.
3:55am – Irrespective of the outcome in Ahmedabad, India certainly know they have a fight on their hands now. Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin can be expected to pose a stiff threat on a surface that has favoured spin throughout, but England were able to limit the impact of the slow bowlers yesterday and must believe they can do so again.
3:45am – Although Cook and Co have already survived for 128 second-innings overs, they still have plenty of work to do if they are to pull off a truly great escape. I suspect England will need to bat until around tea today.
3:40am - Cook has so far batted for 501 minutes in reaching 168, the longest innings by an England batsman following on. The skipper has shared 141 with Prior, who needs 16 more runs to complete a seventh Test century.
3:30am - When England folded to 191 all out in their first innings to bring about an early tea on day three of the opening Test with India, I did not expect to be needed for live text duty on Monday morning. But here we are! Thanks to a remarkable fightback, led by the indefatigable Alastair Cook and sustained by a defiant Matt Prior, the tourists retain hope of saving this match. They will begin the final day on 340 for five, leading by 10.