England eye up famous series win

Mon, Dec 17, 2012, 00:00

England can scent a famous series victory, their first in India since 1985. If they can bat for two more sessions they surely cannot be beaten in the final Test and the 2-1 lead will be intact.

At the close of the fourth day England were 165 runs ahead with seven wickets in hand. The hosts have almost been blocked into submission in Nagpur, having been outplayed in their own conditions in Kolkata and Mumbai.

After the high drama of the first three Tests we have reverted to the bad old days. Yesterday the first hour was the worst. There was ghastly cricket from both sides. Initially, Ravi Ashwin declined singles against deep-set fields until a message was sent out from the dressing room to change tack.

Meanwhile, Alastair Cook, betraying England’s anxieties, set fields for Pragyan Ojha as if he was Brian Lara.

Eventually Monty Panesar bowled Ojha off his glove and there was no hint of celebration, not even from the bowler. It was almost as if not taking wickets was part of England’s plans.

After an hour and 29 more runs MS Dhoni had had enough and he declared. So a proper contest of sorts began. Cook was just as becalmed as in the first innings with Ojha, sharing the new ball, bowling very straight to him with a packed onside field. Cook’s first two runs took 53 balls.

After batting almost 30 overs Cook was adjudged to be caught behind off Ashwin by Kumar Dharmasena. Cook’s paralysis in this match when he has scored 14 runs from 121 balls is hard to explain given what princely form he has been in.

Jonathan Trott swept his first ball for four in conventional style. Soon after he swept a delivery that had dribbled out of the side of Ravindra Jadeja’s hand before trickling down the pitch.

It became apparent later that India were not amused by Trott’s hunger for runs since the modern convention is to ignore such a delivery and let the umpire call “dead ball”. In this instance Dharmasena called “no-ball” since the ball had bounced so many times before reaching Trott.

The final session was spicier. First there was the dismissal of Kevin Pietersen and there was at least no doubt about that. Pietersen shouldered arms to Jadeja and watched the ball hit his off stump.

Soon after, Trott essayed a cut at Ishant Sharma and the bowler and the wicketkeeper appealed in unison. Trott was unmoved; so too was Dharmesena. Virat Kohli was moved to advance upon Trott and to give him a piece of his mind. In a tranquil series here was evidence that frustrations were mounting.

Guardian Service

ENGLAND: 330 (J E Root 73, K P Pietersen 73, M J Prior 57, G P Swann 56, P P Chawla 4-69) 161-3 (I J L Trott 66 no)

INDIA: 326-9 dec (V Kohli 103, M S Dhoni 99, J M Anderson 4-81)

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