Cook and Compton show guts and gumption in England’s second essay

The post-tea session on Saturday — when the England captain Alastair Cook and Nick Compton showed guts and gumption after being asked to follow on — was quite a contrast to their team’s capitulation for 191 in the first innings of the first Test against India in Ahmedabad.

At the press conference later, Matt Prior said that the pitch was far from a snake pit, although there was a bit of turn and bounce, while Pragyan Ojha said the pitch’s behaviour during Sunday’s first session would be crucial to India’s further advancement at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium.

Cook used his feet and the depth of the crease to record his 30th half century with 13 boundaries while Compton held his nerve as England wiped out 111 of the 330 runs in arrears.

India did not claim a wicket in the 38 overs it sent down in the last one and half hours and the home team will enter the field on the fourth day with some anxiety. India still holds the advantage of being ahead by 219 runs.

Stirring action

Stirring action that started in the first over itself set the tone for the day at Motera — Ojha’s conventional left-arm beat Kevin Pietersen hands down off the first ball followed by the English batsman’s readiness to take the gauntlet and show some adventure in the same over.

It was just the kind of first delivery that was needed to cause confusion in the batsmen’s minds and to excite the fielding side looking to separate the overnight pair.

The field set around the batsmen — a full leg trap, slip, silly point, short leg and a silly mid off with a short cover — was quite intimidating with Mahendra Singh Dhoni deciding to begin the proceedings with a double spin attack.

Ravichandran Ashwin then sent down four maiden overs and in between Dhoni missed a difficult leg-side stumping of Pietersen.

Looked upon by his teammates to lead the rescue act after the fall of three wickets on Friday evening, Pietersen appeared to have won the ongoing skirmish with the left-arm spinner when he whipped him for a boundary, but Ojha had the last laugh when he uprooted Pietersen’s middle stump.

Dead-bat defence

Cook either offered a dead-bat defence or dropped his wrists to keep the ball down and showed no overt intention to stroke the ball beyond the centre square.

Some poor work behind the stumps resulted in the England scoreboard making some progress by way of leg byes before Ojha struck in his eighth over.

Ojha first outwitted Pietersen and then drew a first-ball error from Ian Bell whose inside-out lofted attempt found Sachin Tendulkar at deep mid-off.

Cook then departed edging Ashwin to Virender Sehwag at slip — the off-spinner’s second spell read an impressive 4-3-8-1.

Ashwin was a trifle unlucky with Zaheer Khan and Sehwag putting down catches that delayed enforcing the follow on by at least 90 minutes. Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad put up some resistance before Ojha’s fifth wicket, that off Prior, closed England’s first innings.

Brief rally

England rallied briefly through a 47-run stand between Prior and Bresnan. Prior made the most of the life when Zaheer dropped him at deep square leg. Thereafter Sehwag at slip dropped Bresnan on 6, again off Ashwin.

Eventually Ojha evoked an edge from Bresnan and Zaheer, after putting up a poor effort in the field, dismissed Broad.

Earlier Umesh Yadav, introduced in the 48th over, won a leg before appeal to end Samit Patel’s near one hour cautious approach mainly to offer company to his captain.

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