India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 3rd day December 7, 2012

England batsmen tighten grip on game


England 509 for 6 (Cook 190, Trott 87, Compton 57, Pietersen 54) lead India 316 by 193 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The feeling of helplessness that enveloped much of India's horrendous tours of England and Australia descended again on MS Dhoni's side on the third day at Eden Gardens, as two of the most bloody-minded batsmen in world cricket, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, set about grinding down toothless bowling in the morning. After lunch, India managed to dismiss both of them, but that didn't alter England's dominance of the match as Kevin Pietersen and the lower order stacked up some quick runs to stretch the lead towards a comfortable 200.

The moment typifying India's ineptness was Ishant Sharma putting down an absolute dolly off his own bowling when Cook was on 156. A rare Cook mistake sent the ball looping towards Ishant at waist height and at slow pace, but Ishant contrived to fluff that chance, the ball missing his palm and hitting the wrist. Ishant was left scratching his head in disappointment, while MS Dhoni maintained his famously expressionless demeanour.

Neither the old ball nor the new one swung, and though there was some uneven bounce - Cook was once surprised by a lifter from Ishant that struck the bat handle - the batsmen weren't tested much by the quicks as they wiped out the deficit.

India's spinners turned in a much-improved effort after Thursday's disappointing show, bowling accurately with the old ball in the first hour before getting some bounce and turn with the shiny one. In the second session, they got some help from the pitch as well, spinning the ball past the outside edge several times, and asking questions of the well-set Cook and Trott.

Nothing took the shine off Cook's golden tour, though, as he completed 26 hours of batting in the series, the longest day for India's bowlers. As usual there was no extravagance from him; he patiently blocked or left countless deliveries, before cashing in on those that were over pitched or on his pads.

Trott had missed out in the first two Tests, but not this time. He was cautious early in the morning, but soon helped himself to the gifts offered by India's bowlers, especially Zaheer Khan and Ishant. Zaheer gave him several deliveries on the pads to put away, while Ishant bowled plenty short and wide. Before long, Trott was calmly dispatching R Ashwin's variation, the carrom ball, for four, and walking out of the crease before driving.

When England's tailenders were out in the middle practising their batting during the lunch break, one wondered why they bothered, given how bleak India's chances of prising apart the Cook-Trott combination looked. The stand finally came to an end on 173 when Pragyan Ojha managed to get a flat delivery to spin away and take Trott's outside edge to Dhoni.

Trott fell 13 short of a hundred, but Cook seemed set for a double, given his massive powers of concentration, and unquenchable thirst for runs. However, Cook too fell short of the milestone, run-out on 190 after a brain-fade. After Pietersen clipped a ball to square leg, Cook took a few strides before turning back. The ball went to India's best fielder, Virat Kohli, who scored a direct hit after Cook jumped back and lifted his bat to avoid the throw. Cook hadn't grounded his bat, so there was no question of him escaping on account of evasive action, and he was run-out for the first time in his Test career.

Though India had removed both of England's accumulators, they still had to deal with the more aggressive threat provided by Pietersen. The Barmy Army, which had boisterously cheered the dogged-but-effective scoring of Cook and Trott, was treated to some flamboyant shots from Pietersen, who nonchalantly whipped balls from outside off to the leg-side boundary. With less than 10 minutes to tea, he launched Ojha for a straight six, and began the final session with three successive boundaries.

He was toying with the attack, dispatching the ball where he liked and galloped to yet another half-century. However, he missed a sweep soon after was trapped lbw for 54. Even that didn't lead to a slowdown as Samit Patel capitalised on a tiring attack, and crashed a brisk 33. His chance of making it into a sizeable innings ended when he nicked a catch to slip, where Virender Sehwag juggled before holding on.

On what was a depressing day for India fans, one of the most disappointing phases was the hour before stumps. After Samit Patel was dismissed, India needed just one more wicket to get into England's bonafide tailenders. Instead, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann pummelled 56 runs in the final 13 overs, the highlight of which was a majestic pull for six by Prior off Ishant.

India have not lost two home Tests in a row since early 2000, a streak that looks set to come to an end over the next couple of days, unless their faltering batting order finds someone to replicate Cook's marathon efforts of this series.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • narbavi on December 8, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    @Sinhaya: What a silly comment?? Does that mean srilanka is losing purposely to india? So if bangladesh can beat us then why couldn't srilanka win a test in india?? Statements without logic!!

  • Sharon on December 8, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    @James Wall on (December 08 2012, 03:56 AM GMT) You state that; "England have always the reputation to loose games when it matters the most and today will be no differrent". No mate - it is India, not England who have this reputation well earned. India earn it through 8 consequtive test defeat and now 2 in their own home....

  • Sharon on December 8, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    Krishna Gopaul on (December 08 2012, 03:51 AM GMT) You smell chicken do you??? I smell goose - cooked goose India style.

  • JJ on December 8, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    How mnay times had Swann take wicket(s) on his frst over ?... This is one of his greatest strength that subsequently put pressure on other batsmen for the rest of the innings...that's why Ravi S. commented on how he's so effective..!!

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2012, 3:58 GMT

    England taking this match 4 sure not a fan really just prefer England over India any day

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    England have always the reputation to loose games when it matters the most and today will be no differrent

  • t on December 8, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    come on england make it 3-1. hopefully you'll end a few undeserving fat cat's careers along the way. from an ex-india fan.

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    ridiculous !!! why are England still batting ???? they just beat India last week by a margin ! and they are trying to eek out more runs ?? seriously ?? call a declaration and get on with the match England !I admit India are not up to par this series but , I smell a chicken ,Alistair Cook .

  • subra on December 8, 2012, 3:48 GMT

    unless it rains in cacutta for the next 48 hours the result is known already-heaviset defeat for India.First none of the batsmen took responsibilty against a quality attack which was a sore point- as they are called flat track Bullies-but they were bullied by English bowlers.The bowlers added to the myster of india by not bowling with zest and conceded as many runs and no wickets at right time.The fielders have no discipline or faith in them allowing easy runs .so in all the teas failre is colective 316 is not adequate in I ininnigs as t is 600 runs wicket and India lost the heart straightaway with a shobby performance from the entire team.they need a new brain to think and act time to rest MSD as captain -Kohli not as captain may be viru or Gambhir to do 2 years before they give it to one oif the yungsters.It is time to look for laternative batsmen and Bowlers like Rahane Badri and other spinners than Ashwin and Ohja whom the england team are reading well.

  • gavin on December 8, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    England just have to get another 30-70 runs in the first hour then let the Indian bats carry on giving their wickets away. Mr Dravid might be called out of retirement for the last test, they need the wall!

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