India v England, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 3rd day November 17, 2012

England openers fight but India in command


England 191 (Ojha 5-45, Ashwin 3-80) and 111 for 0 (Cook 74*, Compton 34*) trail India 521 for 8 dec by 219 runs
Scorecard and ball by ball details

Ahmedabad has suffered a steep drop recently in the number of vultures circling the city, but those not affected by urbanisation and poisoning will find plenty to encourage them as long as England's malady against spin bowling persists.

India took England's last seven first-innings wickets by tea, with their spinners R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha hunting down eight wickets in the innings, and as the follow-on was confirmed, a lone vulture loomed overhead as if in expectation of a quick kill.

England sorely needed a remedy second time around that might not save the Test but would pronounce themselves still redoubtable opponents in the three Tests to follow. Alastair Cook and Nick Compton provided it with a contemplative, unbroken stand of 111 as the spinners failed to find the same purchase second time around.

India still lead by 219 runs with two days remaining, but here at last was an England batting pair, neither of them natural players of spin, working earnestly to come up with their own individual solutions. Cook was a captain leading by example, the more expansive as he picked off the bad balls; Compton, although more cautious, showed impressive resolve on debut.

Ojha came close to dismissing both, having Compton dropped in the gully on 23 by Virat Kohli, a tough chance by his boots, and seeing Aleem Dar refuse a convincing lbw appeal when Cook was 37. The BCCI will not accept DRS until it is 100 per cent efficient. Instead they got Dar, a fine umpire having a bad day, operating at a percentage he will wish to remain unrecorded.

England have no problems with spin. Psychologically, they have to say that. The evidence, though, remained contrary in their first innings as Ashwin and Ojha, taking four wickets on an exacting morning, became the latest combination to harry them to destruction in Asia.

Ojha, looping up his left-arm slows at a gentle pace, bowled Kevin Pietersen and had Ian Bell caught in the deep first ball - one of the most misconceived dismissals by an England batsman since Mike Gatting had a dabble at the reverse sweep in the 1987 World Cup final.

Ashwin accounted for Cook, whose accession to the England Test captaincy has come at a most unpromising juncture. Cook's methodical resistance took him to 41 before Ashwin caused him to reach for one that turned and edge to Virender Sehwag at first slip.

It was a gruelling morning for two highly-experienced umpires and with no review system in place the fear of giving a faulty dismissal in favour of the spinners seemingly soon crept into the consciousness.

Patel, on 4, looked stone dead, when he played across a delivery from Ashwin and was struck in front of middle. You did not need a predictive path, which the BCCI disallows television from showing, to know that Dar had erred. When Dar did give out Patel lbw to Umesh Yadav, in a flirting appearance of pace bowling, you did not need a predictive path to know that the ball was slipping down the leg side.

There had been enough clues on the second evening, never mind the past year, to suggest that England would face a troubled morning and so it proved to be. Ashwin and Ojha bowled splendidly on an increasingly responsive surface, finding more turn than Graeme Swann had achieved in what was virtually a single-handed assault for England on the first two days.

Right from the outset, England were up against it. Pietersen was at his most frenzied, bent upon using his feet to the spinners, but if he was constantly on the move it was not necessarily in the right direction. He nearly yorked himself in Ojha's first over and had to dive back into the crease as Gautam Gambhir tried to run him out from silly point. In Ojha's next over, he charged again and MS Dhoni missed a leg-side stumping.

When umpire Tony Hill turned down an lbw appeal from Ojha, he faced an interrogation from bowler and captain alike as to whether Pietersen had played a shot, probably on the grounds that a player of his quality could not conceivably miss the ball by such a distance.

It all ended when Pietersen, this time remaining in his crease, tried to stay inside the line of the ball and was bowled, missing one that turned only slightly by quite a distance. Left-arm spin gets into his head and likes what it finds.

Bell's first-ball dismissal was mental frailty dressed up as aggressive intent, an attempt to dance down the wicket to strike Ojha down the ground ending in a mis-hit off the bottom of the bat to Sachin Tendulkar at mid-off. To call it rabbit-in-the-headlights stuff was an insult to rabbits. It has yet to be proved that a rabbit sits in its burrow proclaiming: "I am going to be a tough rabbit, I am going to be an adventurous rabbit. I have no idea about the speed of the car or the lie of the road, I am going to take on this car from the start, come what may." Or maybe they do and they are the ones that get splattered.

Cook and Patel, although finding few scoring opportunities, did at least have the wherewithal to try to unravel India's spin-bowling mysteries. Cook's tendency to fall over on leg stump was probed, but he survived it, swept with certainty at times, and was the one England player who could be dismissed with pride intact.

England could also have lost Matt Prior to an inviting full toss when he pulled straight to deep-square leg where Zaheer Khan was unable to hold a running catch. England were at least spared that embarrassment.

Prior marshalled some late-order resistance against the old ball - 94 for the last three wickets - until he became the fifth victim for Ojha, bowled seeking a boundary to raise his fifty. Swann, the best player of spin in England's lower order, found himself coming in at No. 11 and faced two balls, his chief involvement to check with India if they intended to make England bat again.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on November 18, 2012, 9:11 GMT

    @GRVJPR on (November 17 2012, 14:43 PM GMT) DRS is about giving more correct decisions , not about giving bowlers cheap wickets. How do you work out that Ajmal gets cheap wickets due to DRS? If any bowler gets a wicket deemed incorrect by the batsmen then (provided the batsmen have not wasted both reviews) if he appeals it (and it is proven the batsman is right) will be given NOT OUT therefore denying the bowler the wicket and if a bowler appeals using DRS , it has to be nailed on to get the decision. Please publish this time

  • spirit on November 18, 2012, 6:33 GMT

    few fans here saying india sud'nt produce such pitches bcoz it will never help india abroad,now my question is does English Pitches help Eng to play better in Subcontinent?what is the use of making same kind of pitches everywhere?then there r no more challenges left to perform in different conditions and this is what cricket is all about i.e perform in different conditions and prove yourself..y is that instead of asking ur own english team to perform on different condition u English fans always moan about Subcontinent pitches?will u fans better ask ur player to perform rather than giving silly excuses..Thanks..cricinfo pls publish

  • Abu on November 18, 2012, 5:40 GMT

    Sehwag's test Averages: 35 in BD, 28 in ENG, 20 in NZ, and 25 in SA. Yeah, my last comment about him being a Flat Track Bully still stands! Let me give you Tamim's Averages: 67 in ENG, 50 in NZ, and 50 in WI. Tamim has better average away from home in faster pitches than he has at home. And BD produced a Tamim Iqbal within 12 years of playing test cricket. show me on Indian cricketer who averaged 67 in England in the first 12 years on India playing test cricket. I will give you the answer before you waste any time looking for this answer: there is none.

  • Dummy4 on November 18, 2012, 4:35 GMT

    @Htc-Android, yup mate...that's why India has been thrashing SL everywhere in all forms of cricket.

  • Mathew on November 18, 2012, 3:18 GMT

    Couple of positives from an Eng fan here. After being denied any spin or spin conditions we will have no excuse going into the rest of the series. Bell is off. As for this match, if Eng put together a few decent partnerships and make Ind bat again we could be in for a really good show. Odds are that we will go 1-0 down but who knows!! As for Ind, these tactics will assure them they remain a dominant force at home....and the opposite abroad.

  • Dummy4 on November 18, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    India will wrap up things before tea. Congrats India for the innings victory. Next game in Mumbai where lot of things have happened for the past few days. High security expected.

  • John on November 18, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    As I've said before, England have been good to create enough chances in most of their games lately to have held their own. One of their main issues is that they have not been good enough in the field to take those chances and, all credit to their opposition, they have been made to pay dearly. Pujara had a let-off early here and ended up with a double-hundred. The England openers have been fighting hard here but they have both had strokes of luck. They need to do what their opposition have been doing: really make it count. It's obviously going to take far more than just the openers doing well to pull this one out of the fire. If Ian Bell doesn't do well in this second innings and the his replacement, presumably Jonny Bairstow, does well in the next game, what will the England selectors do for the third game?

  • associate cricket fan on November 18, 2012, 1:01 GMT

    England will make hundreds on today and expose the weakness of these overrated spinners from india. Even club level spinners from Sl better than Indian spinners. at any given day i would rate herath better than Bhaji, ashwin, ojha.etc.

  • Ashok on November 18, 2012, 1:01 GMT

    @Meety: Cost & Reliability drive any product whether it be cars or DRS. Rahul Dravid was given out three times in the England Vs. India Test series during the Indian Tour of England last year despite DRS being used. In fact all 3 cases the decision was in conclusive even with DRS. How do you call it "Reliable" when the decisions are inconclusive?There are several interpretational matters still up in the air & third Umpire steps in to make a decison! The so called snickometer & ball tracking are very questionable. If you want more than 2 challenges you have to be 100% right every time you challenge. I would expect any good Umpire to be perfectly capable of Judging the "100% out decision" correctly. DRS used in borderline cases has not helped & there are literally dozens of examples in this category. Why not perfect it first before spending huge sums to use it? Let every National Cricket Board contribute a sum of money to perfect it.

  • Andrew on November 18, 2012, 0:14 GMT

    @dunger.bob on (November 17 2012, 23:05 PM GMT) - mate I 100% agree re: Yadav. There is something about the lad that impresses me. He looks like a bloke who won't do the sub-cont. thing & slow down. He looks physically stronger than any Indian cricketer I have seen too. IF India are ever going to earn respect overseas - him, Ishant & Zaheer need to be fit & firing 100%! I hope Yadav has an injuey free rest of his career, he's a good one IMO!

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