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Around India in 80 days

Posted in England in India 2012-13

Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook leaves for India with 20 Test tons. He returned with a record 23

It is more than three months since England’s Test squad left the UK for the first part of the trip to India, during which the tourists have been to all four corners of the vast country.

Initially they headed to the ICC Global Cricket Academy in Dubai for a short training camp before arriving in Mumbai on October 29.

Three fascinating series followed, with an aggregate score of 5-5 should all of India and England’s wins be combined.

The visitors famously came from behind to take the Test rubber 2-1 before the Twenty20 mini-series was shared 1-1 and England book-ended a 3-2 one-day defeat with victories.

Few predicted England’s first Test triumph in India for almost 28 years, particularly when they were convincingly beaten by nine wickets at Ahmedabad in the first Test of four on the back of Cheteshwar Pujara’s double-hundred.

However, Alastair Cook’s stubborn second-innings 176 in his first international since succeeding Andrew Strauss as Test captain hinted at the fightback that was to come.

With Monty Panesar recalled as a second specialist spinner at Mumbai, he and Graeme Swann memorably shared 19 scalps in a 10-wicket success that included another Cook ton and Kevin Pietersen’s imperious 186.

Cook’s England record 23rd Test hundred and fifth in five Tests as skipper - his first two were in Bangladesh during 2010 when Strauss was rested - came at Kolkata, the tour’s most eastern venue. His commanding 190 set up a seven-wicket victory in which James Anderson continued to shine with six scalps.

That left the visitors needing a draw, which Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell’s second-innings centuries emphatically secured at Nagpur. Cook ended the series with 562 runs while Swann took 20 wickets and Panesar 17, the latter having played just thrice.

The T20 internationals soon followed and, after India’s five-wicket win at Pune despite Alex Hales’ fine fifty, stand-in captain Eoin Morgan’s last-ball maximum secured a six-wicket victory in Mumbai. Morgan’s 49 augmented Michael Lumb’s half-century.

Following time at home over Christmas and New Year, England ended a run of 13 one-day internationals in India without victory. Cook and Bell’s 158-run opening stand underpinned 325 for four and James Tredwell’s four wickets aided a nine-run win at Rajkot, the most western point of the trip.

The world champions responded resoundingly at Kochi, deep in the country’s south, and Ranchi where the hosts’ sub-160 scores led to heavy losses.

Despite an improved England batting display in Mohali, thanks chiefly to 76 each from Cook and Pietersen, a five-wicket defeat gave India series victory with a game to spare.

Bell restored pride at Dharamsala, so far north it is in the Himalayan foothills, with the first hundred of the rubber. His unbeaten 113 and Tim Bresnan’s 4-45 earned a seven-wicket success.

On leaving India tomorrow, those who featured in all three series - Bresnan, Morgan, Samit Patel, Pietersen and Joe Root - will have been on tour for more than 80 days.

For 22-year-old Root, who made his international debut in all formats, that time of exploration has been life-changing.

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