India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 3rd day

Cook's lapse does not cost England

It is a mark of the expectations England's captain has of himself that even 190 didn't feel like enough. Still, his team never let control of the match slip

George Dobell in Kolkata

December 7, 2012

Comments: 23 | Text size: A | A

Most batsmen would have been delighted to finish with a score of 190, but not Alastair Cook. The somewhat absent minded manner of his dismissal - failing to ground his bat as he avoided a hard and accurate throw from Virat Kohli - left him "deeply upset" in the words of Jonathan Trott.

Cook's century, his third of the series, helped England build a dominant position on the third day. It was not particularly exciting, it was not particularly pretty and it was not at all easy, but it was a day when England inexorably took a grip on this Test. Some tight bowling from India prevented England scoring at the run-rate they may have liked but a lead of 193, on a pitch beginning to offer more assistance to the bowlers, tightened their grip on India until it became suffocating. Boa Constrictors kill just as effectively as tigers.

While that, in time, will no doubt console Cook, he was disappointed at both failing to register the third double-century of his Test career and by failing to ensure, through his own actions, that England took advantage of their strong platform to establish a match-winning position.

"He was deeply upset and realised what an opportunity he had out there to still be batting tonight," Trott said. "That's the way he is. He'll be very disappointed.

"He's not one who will express too much emotion or disgust, but deep down I know he'll be very upset. He didn't really say anything. We just let him stew. I'd just put it down as a freak dismissal."

Cook need not have worried. Such was the strong performance of his colleagues that England did not squander their chance. They now have an excellent chance to inflict a second successive defeat on a side who have not suffered such an indignity at home in more than a decade.

Trott made his highest score since the Test in Galle in March, Kevin Pietersen provided valuable impetus and Samit Patel, Graeme Swann and, in particular, Matt Prior produced selfless performances to press home England's advantage and punish a weary attack. Even Ian Bell, who fell to an unworthy flail, could be partially excused as he did so in a bid to pick-up the scoring pace and earn enough time to bowl India out once more. England will, according to Trott, bat on in the morning, with India facing a fight to avoid an innings defeat.

Certainly Trott took encouragement from the obvious deterioration in the pitch over the course of the day. While it is no minefield, there were signs of far more turn for the spinners and some uneven bounce for the seamers. As Trott hinted, had India utilised the conditions a little better, batting could have been far more difficult.

Alastair Cook passed 150 on the third morning, India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 3rd day, December 7, 2012
Alastair Cook was ten runs short of being able to raise his bat again © BCCI

"It was pretty flat for the first couple of days," Trott said. "But now there's maybe a bit more turn and variable bounce. I had a few that I left that kept low. If they'd been straight it would have been quite tricky."

Well though India's spinners performed on day three, the suspicion remains that the sharper pace at which the England spinners bowl might prove more dangerous on this surface. England's seamers will also feel they can utilise the cracks in the pitch more effectively than their Indian counterparts.

The sight of India's players, exhausted and demoralised, lying on the outfield and receiving massage at stumps, will have done little to dishearten England. The fact that India face a seventh successive session in the field at the start of the fourth day will do little for their morale. India may be clinging to the memory of the miraculous victory over Australia here in the Test of 2001 and it is true that cricket would not be nearly such an entertaining game if it was predictable. But there is no Rahul Dravid or VVS Laxman now and the absent Harbhajan Singh is not the bowler he once was.

Indeed, when we come to reflect on this match, we may well conclude that strength, fitness and fielding has been the difference between the sides.

The two defining moments came in the first four sessions of the game. In the first, two England players, one a fast bowler who could have got away with a spell of grazing in the outfield, the other a somewhat corpulent fellow with little reputation in the field, conjured a run-out from nothing. Patel pulled off an excellent diving stop after a long chase to prevent the boundary and pushed the ball back for the supporting Steven Finn to produce the throw that ran-out Virender Sehwag. It was a moment that defined teamwork and commitment; a moment that spoke volumes about the importance of going the extra mile.

It was also a moment that stood in contrast to India's sometimes apathetic and listless display in the field. For in the second defining moment of this game came when a young man, Pujara, found himself at slip while still wearing shin pads and a chest guard from his spell at short-leg and dropped a man in the form of his life. On the third day, Sehwag showed the folly of his absence from the slips by taking the sharpest of chances to dismiss Patel.

Cook cared so much he struggled to deal with the disappointment of being out for 190. India cared so little they could not be bothered to get their best fielders in the most important positions or ensure they were dressed appropriately. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that if England win this series, it will because they wanted it more.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by JustIPL on (December 10, 2012, 17:47 GMT)

Nampally, Anyway, we have to praise cook for putting pressure on indian fielding and inducing fielding mistakes from them. It happens in cricket that overthrows are scored when fielding sides are under pressure. It is difficult for any side under pressure fieliding all right. Also, the same India side will field like Jonty Rhodes when there will be an opposition of weaker or similar strength. India even won the world cup when tendulkar was dropped 4 times. Simply, indian fielders do not want to toil in the field for five days when they can make it in 3 hours of T-20.

Posted by JG2704 on (December 8, 2012, 16:52 GMT)

@PhaniBhaskar24 on (December 08 2012, 10:52 AM GMT) Credit for your honest assessment there bud

@Moppa on (December 08 2012, 11:37 AM GMT) again an honest assessment but I'm sure PB24 agrees with what you say re the spin dept too.

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 12:41 GMT)

Indian team needs young blood and also an aggressive captain. Bring back Varun Aaron,Irfan Pathan,Abhinav Mukund,Sures Raina. Give break to batsmen like Kohli,Yuvraj and MSD. In my view MSD is not made for test cricket.

Posted by Moppa on (December 8, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

@PhaniBaskar24, not wanting to split hairs, but India's problems are way deeper than the recent retirements of VVS and Dravid, as good as those players were. Dravid has been admirably replaced by Pujara, and Laxman's output had been low for a while. Rather, 'Team India' is plagued by: an unreliable opening combination, a patchy middle-order, average keeping and batting, poor captaincy, embarassing fielding, half-hearted pace bowling and tight but uninspired spinners.

Posted by PhaniBhaskar24 on (December 8, 2012, 10:52 GMT)

Nampally@ We being indians..should accept the fact now, we are second grade team in tests post VVS & Dravid..hard to chew..but fact has to be accepted. Luck will always play a part in every Sportsmen life & the way it T20 extragavanza, we are killing the real cricket here..while i am writing this, Ashwin ( the bowler who can bat), scored 50 & saved us from innings defeat post 1974 by England in India..Well Played England..we would be ready for sure the next time with all the changes required ( though not for 4th test of this series)

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 10:50 GMT)

Where India go from here.... Drop Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Sachin, MS Dhoni..... If India want to win the Nagpur Test and draw the series.

Posted by JG2704 on (December 8, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

@Nampally on (December 07 2012, 20:45 PM GMT) Indeed he had luck but then by the same token I could say Compton was due a big score and had DRS been in play he'd have scored heavily or we could also go back to the 1st test when our fielders put down some of your run scorers earlier on

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

The Spin masters could not spin... So much to speak about the Indian spinners... Whether Shane Warne comes out of retirement for the Ashes or not... India needs Anil Kumble to come out of retirement... Many changes to be made to the team... MSD should give up captaincy... he has not be successful for nearly two years now... Replace the coach... We now need a proper bowling coach... I would prefer Jumbo... or Venky Prasad... Few matches played under Venky - India did very well... Sachin should retire and give way for some good youngsters... Get back Gary as well if possible as coach... So many things to do, and I think India will lose the T20 matches they way they play now, followed by the Pak ODI tournament, and AUS Test series...

Posted by Pathiyal on (December 8, 2012, 5:54 GMT)

another wonderful innings from the captain. on a lighter note i thought he felt there was not enuf challenge from the indian bowling/fielding side :-) having dropped twice early. Cook's captaincy also has been wonderful throughout the series.

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (December 8, 2012, 4:00 GMT)

@Nampally - by stating before that England only won 4-0 in England 2011 because of India "injury" and now by stating that Cook "lucky break" all you are doing is reducing your credibility even more. Don't you understand that it is India huge weakness that cause whitewash in England and then in Australia, defeat in Mumbai and now up against it in Kolkota? The reality is right in front of you luck have nothing to do with it.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (December 8, 2012, 2:29 GMT)

@Nampally on (December 07 2012, 20:45 PM GMT), there's no doubt that Cook has had his share of luck, but the key is that, as a batsman, when you get a stroke of luck, you need to go on and make the opposition pay. That's exactly what Hashim Amla and Alviro Peterson did for SA against England quite recently. Had England not dropped catches against SA then that series may well have been 2-1 to England. England did drop catches though, and SA beat them 2-0. I didn't see too many India fans expressing sympathy for England then, and rightly so. Many a big innings has been made after a stroke of luck. When you get right down to it though, is a lapse of concentration by a fielder in dropping a catch any more lucky for a batsman than a lapse of concentration by a batsman in getting out to a ball that didn't warrant it is lucky for a bowler?

Posted by Rahulbose on (December 8, 2012, 0:14 GMT)

Cook need not worry, he still could still have 3 innings to play against this insipid Indian side. At least 1 innings is confirmed in the 4th test.

Posted by Ram_O on (December 8, 2012, 0:00 GMT)

MSD should have NOT appealed for Mr. Cook's run out. what a shame!!! So what if India was drilled down? So what England was punching the final blow for this test? Mr. Cook was approaching the second double hundred and it'd have been a wonderful sportsmanship on MSD's part! Let's face it - After all Mr. Cook has become the YOUNGEST to reach the 7000-run mark, even beating MR. Tendulkar! That's a phenomenal achievement! Hope Mr. Cook get's another century or even a double in the fourth test and finish this series on his best! Because he won't NEED to bat in the second innings here in the GARDENS!!! Go, COOK, GO!

Posted by KarachiKid on (December 7, 2012, 21:41 GMT)

I think English players and support staff took their lessons from defeat against Pakistan. Even if Pakistan plays them again on the same tracks with Saeed Ajmal And Abdur Rehman fully fit, they will find a different English outfit altogether.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 21:34 GMT)

lol..India... sorry for u.... PLEASE CHANGE THE CAPTAIN and Fast BOWLERS....!!! Drop Zaheer, Ishant....!! Bring in fresh blood.... where is Varun Aaron...we need his pace..... Where is Praveen Kumar, his Swing will help...!!! Well... I dont mind to play even Agarkar as he got the pace and swing.... Even Balaji will get the swing...!! Please... this is stupid cricket in the home turf...!!!

Posted by Nampally on (December 7, 2012, 20:45 GMT)

Cook should consider himself lucky that Pujara failed to hold onto the catch after getting both hands on the ball. He was only 17 then. Had Pujara taken that catch, Cook & England would have been Minus 180 from the current total + may not have even overtaken Indian total. Talking of the runout, Cook escaped in the Mumbai test when Ashwin from hardly 20 yards at fine leg threw wide of the wkt. with Cook yards out.So he escaped another run out at Mumbai too. Again that match was lost by India on fielding blunder by Indians.When India keep giving such gifts to a guy in form, they lose the match. My advise to Cook is also to look from the Indian perspective- how much would pujara be cursing himself for the catch dropped costing the team 180 runs & a possible defeat!. Both the lucky breaks has boosted Cook's average hugely.

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (December 7, 2012, 19:18 GMT)

This is the measure of this great player - even 190 and getting out disappoint him. What committment! What a player....!

Posted by JustIPL on (December 7, 2012, 18:55 GMT)

Cook should not be dishearted at all as he single handedly cooked the indian bowling attack despite on and off the pitch tactics and did not get distracted. He took indian spin bowling and home advantage out of the equation and now India are left with a lot of soul searching to do. Despite being the richest board they are unable to muster a win. First test win for india was due to some tactics which cook clearly controlled. His innings is more important than the run out and we all know how selflessly he performed for India. So, no worries Cook there is 4th test for your practice on Indian pitches. Kohli has to bat and just one run out is not going to be enough for his stake in the Indian test side.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (December 7, 2012, 18:46 GMT)

Though he had two catches dropped, I would have loved him to get a double century and sap the energy (whatever is left over) of the elephants. Well played Cook. Take a bow! I hope he doesn't tour our country next time, looking at this thirst for runs. Just out of the world. What a masterclass at concentration!

Posted by VenkyN on (December 7, 2012, 18:01 GMT)

I have been a steadfast supporter of the Indian team for more than two decades now. I've been with them through the hapless times in the 90s when we were hard pressed to win a session leave alone a test abroad. And I've been proud with them to see the ascendancy that happened, first under Ganguly and then under Kumble, Dravid and Dhoni while playing abroad. But never have I ever felt that the Indian bowling is as toothless as it has been in this series. Nor have I seen Indian batsmen define cavalier and casual, and perpetually in denial as seen in this team today. It is almost as if having made their millions in T20 and the IPL they do will not deign to play serious test cricket. The team today lacks pride... I wish there was a character like Ganguly who would step up and give them a kick in the backside that they thoroughly deserve. Sandeep Patil is a pugnacious character. I only wish he has the guts to do the needful.

Posted by TamilIndian on (December 7, 2012, 18:00 GMT)

You are right George the Indian players simply don't care about test cricket.

Posted by Rohan-Lalpudha on (December 7, 2012, 16:19 GMT)

us Indians need to stop being delusional and acknowledge that we are better than only Bangladesh at the moment. Our bowling is arguably the worst amont the test plaing nations (yes, im including bangladesh as well) and even Pakistan have a better batting line up. We need to follow the route that pakistan are taking in blooding in the youth. Tendulkar is WAYYYY beyond his sell by date, Dhoni is a poor all rounder, sehvag is VERY inconsistent and Kohli is confused. we need to only retain ashwin, kohli, ojha, and pukara. get rid of the rest. Oh where are the Dravids and the Laxmans of this generation?

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 15:29 GMT)

That's a bit harsh about Patel - it's hard to deny he carries a bit of excess baggage a lot of the time, but he's generally an excellent fielder, not least because he can throw with either arm.

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