India news from ESPN

Oct 182014

‘A lose-lose situation’ – Cozier

Commentator Tony Cozier has said West Indies could fail to send a squad to their upcoming tour of South Africa as well as the 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand if the standoff between the West Indies Cricket Board, West Indies Players Association president and CEO Wavell Hinds and the West Indies players’ movement spearheaded by ODI captain Dwayne Bravo remains unresolved.

“The BCCI are very upset that the West Indies board and the players should have called off the tour at this stage,” Cozier told ESPNcricinfo in a telephone interview from Barbados on Friday. “Now having done that, meaning that this tour is finished, they were scheduled to go to South Africa right after. They’ve got three Test matches in December, five one-day internationals in January and a Twenty20 and then they are scheduled to move straight from South Africa to the World Cup in Australia in New Zealand. I can’t see that happening if the standoff remains.”

Tony Cozier at a post-match presentation, Barbados, April 21, 2007Tony Cozier has criticised the WICB’s handling of the conflict between the players and the WIPA president Wavell Hinds © Getty Images

Cozier characterized the abandonment of the West Indies tour of India as a “lose-lose situation” and stated that both the players and the board shared responsibility for letting the dispute get out of hand. Cozier believes the players should have made their stand prior to leaving the West Indies for the start of the tour, but that once they were in India the WICB should have intervened after the situation escalated on tour with Bravo calling for the resignation of Hinds.

“The West Indies board really should have got involved and said, ‘Look, we can sort this out. Let’s wait for the tour to finish, play all the way through and then we’ll go with what your demands are. We’ll talk about it. If it needs negotiating, we’ll agree with that. But we have to talk about it,’ not to abandon a very important tour, a very significant tour virtually before it started.”

Cozier also lamented that another blow had been delivered to cricket fans in the region now that they can no longer watch their team on tour going up against the reigning World Cup champions. Spectator attendance at grounds throughout the West Indies has been in decline for some time and this latest incident will not help resuscitate what Cozier describes as a waning level of support for West Indies cricket.

“The fact of the matter is that the West Indies, under the ICC rankings for Tests and ODIs, they’re eighth in the list and only above Bangladesh and Zimbabwe,” Cozier said. “The interest in cricket here in the Caribbean on the field has certainly waned to a large extent. The Test matches against New Zealand, a very good series here back in June, a good tight series New Zealand won 2-1, you looked at the crowds then and you had maybe 200-300 people at the ground. The biggest crowd perhaps was in Barbados where you had about 1000. That just reflects the exasperation of the supporters here in the Caribbean. They can’t understand why this should be happening over and over and over. You wonder if they’ve all given up on it now.

“In any situation when you have an employer against an employee, which is the board and the players, that public sympathy would be inclined more to the employee who happens to be the players and of course they are the ones who go into the middle. They are the stars. All the same, there are other sports which have come up and challenged West Indies cricket, which after all has been the bedrock of unity within the Caribbean for the better part of 120 years. Whether it will continue, well that’s another question.”

Dec 172012

Virat Kohli celebrates his third century in Tests, India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 3rd day, December 15, 2012Sunil Gavaskar says Virat Kohli’s responsible ton showed he has grown © BCCI

Related Links

Players/Officials: Sunil Gavaskar | Virat Kohli
Matches: India v England at Nagpur
Series/Tournaments: England tour of India

Virat Kohli, the 24-year-old batsman, is ready to take over the India Test captaincy from MS Dhoni, according to former India captain Sunil Gavaskar. Gavaskar’s comments came in wake of India’s 2-1 Test series loss to England, their first at home in eight years.

Kohli’s dogged century in Nagpur, which helped lift a wobbling India to within four runs of England’s first-innings total, showed he was ready for the added responsibility, Gavaskar told NDTV. “Till the fourth day of the Nagpur Test, I would have backed Dhoni. Now that Virat has come up with a hundred under trying circumstances where he curbed his natural game, he discovered a good part about himself.

“He is ready to take on the mantle of Test cricket [captain]. That needs to be looked at in a positive manner by everyone concerned, as that is where the future lies.”

India were looking to win in Nagpur to deny England their first Test series win in India in 28 years. Instead, England finished on a comfortable 352 for 4 on the final day and the Test ended in a draw. It was an impressive comeback from England: India had won the first Test of the series in Ahmedabad by nine wickets, before the visitors rallied and completely outplayed them in the next two. This series loss rounds off a poor 18 months in Test cricket for India, during which they were whitewashed in England and Australia.

In this must-win Test, after India’s lower-order inexplicably batted at a slow pace on the fourth morning, they could take only three England wickets in 79 overs on the day. England went to stumps 165 ahead, and could still have been under pressure had India struck early on the final day. However, India managed only one wicket in the day, that too in the final session.

In view of their dire need to win, Gavaskar said, India should have been proactive. “India could not get enough wickets on day four. Also, they doodled around in the first hour on day four. If India had wanted to win the Test, they could have shown some intent by declaring on the overnight total [on day three] or by asking the tailenders to play slam-bang cricket.

“Yes, England batted well. But you do not position a forward-short leg or silly point to get a catch there; you do that to force a batsman to give a catch some place else. Trott or Bell might have done something stupid then. India could have attacked more. But that’s not the only reason India lost. Our bowlers were by and large ineffective.”

Gavaskar also hinted at some of the senior India players not valuing Test cricket enough. “Looking at the Jadeja’s, the Kohli’s … you can easily see there is recognition, an appreciation there for Test cricket. It is some of the guys who have been around, who have done well in the past that are being a bit casual about it over the last couple of years.”

Dec 172012

Maharashtra 3 for 0 and 196 (Bawne 58, Narwal 3-35) lead Delhi 193 (Rawal 65, Fallah 5-67, Dhumal 3-32) by six runsScorecard

Delhi needed two wins to give themselves a chance at squeezing into the Ranji knockouts. But at the Roshanara Club, they were far from a dominant position to force the win against Maharashtra. An unheralded bowling attack on a wicket that is made for accuracy and length had Delhi all out for 193 late into the second day. At stumps, Maharashtra were 3 for no loss.

In theory, Delhi can still win the match, as two innings have been completed and two days of play remain. Maharashtra’s first innings lasted just over 55 overs, and Delhi’s more lauded batting survived all of 77. It was proof enough of Maharashtra’s control that the run-scoring was neither fluent nor easy.

This is a match played in fast forward, and so far, it appears Maharashtra’s first innings may not mean much. They have the advantage, though, on two grounds.

First, they know that should bad weather wipe out chunks of the remaining two days, they have done enough to be the team ahead. Overnight rain and a morning shower delayed play by two hours this morning, and at stumps only 54 overs could be bowled in the day.

Secondly, at all costs, Delhi will have to win this match with the bat, chasing any half-reasonable target on a wicket that is made for bowlers with discipline and accuracy.

One of them would be left-arm pace bowler Samad Fallah, who picked up 5-67 in the 29 overs he bowled in three long spells of eleven, ten and eight overs running through the Delhi innings. It is his tenth five-wicket haul in his 40th first-class match, and not the first time he has bowled at the Roshanara. He picked up five wickets in his first match here two years ago and so knew how to bowl on this wicket.

When play resumed, Manhas and Rawal played for most part of an hour, before Manhas tried to force the issue, playing across the line to the parsimonious Fallah. He was the first wicket to fall in the day, but it was the departure of the other Delhi stalwart Rajat Bhatia that signalled the end of Delhi’s frontline batsmen. Fallah came around the wicket to Bhatia and nibbled at his glove as he went forward defending, and wicketkeeper Motwani took the catch. He said his team thought of him as the bowler of the big wickets, and remembered getting Suresh Raina out for a duck against UP. “I relish the challenge of bowling to the best batsmen in a team. The others that are not that good, they play and miss.”

The latter half of the Delhi innings was wrapped up by Nikit Dhumal, a debutant for Maharashtra in this game. It was a performance that Fallah appreciated. “Nikit made his debut in the under-25s for Maharashtra this season. And when we saw him here, it wasn’t like he was making his debut at this level. He brought us back into this game.”

Dhumal picked up the wickets of Delhi top scorer, Vaibhav Rawal, blocking off the midwicket, which produced a stylishly lofted flick that landed in the hands of Anupam Sankelcha at deep-backward square leg. He then removed Sumit Narwal and Pradeep Sangwan, bowlers who were capable of exuberant innings that could have shrunk the score. It would be possible to defend any sizeable target that Maharashtra can set Delhi. The reason said Fallah, with a smile, was “because they’re desperate.”

Dec 172012

Vidarbha 302 for 2 (Ubarhande 129*, S Shrivastava 84*, SS Das 53) trail Karnataka 619 for 8 dec by 317 runsScorecard

Amol Ubarhande hit his maiden first-class hundred to lead Vidarbha’s strong reply to Karnataka’s huge total. The Vidarbha openers Faiz Fazal (22) and Shiv Sunder Das (53) could not go on to make big scores but Ubarhande and Shalabh Shrivastava had put on 209 runs by stumps. Ubarhande was more aggressive of the two, hitting 18 fours in his 129 while Shrivastava was unbeaten on 84 off 218 deliveries. The visitors had chosen to field on a grassy Mysore pitch and Karnataka’s KL Rahul had said the hosts would have done the same, but so far, there have been a double hundred, two centuries and four fifties in the game.

Baroda 208 and 116 for 4 (Kaushik 3-23) lead Tamil Nadu 230 (Prasanna 75, Aparajith 62, Vahora 4-36) by 94 runsScorecard

Things slowed down at the Moti Bagh ground after Tamil Nadu gained a 22-run lead, but there had been plenty of excitement before that. Resuming the day on 166 for 6 in pursuit of Baroda’s 208, Tamil Nadu slipped to 182 for 8, before R Prasanna and No 10 M Rangarajan steered them past the hosts’ score. Tamil Nadu eventually made 230, Murtuja Vahora ending with 4 for 36. J Kaushik probed away when Baroda came out to bat, and dismissed the first three Baroda batsmen after each of them had got starts, the highest being Aditya Waghmode’s 39. None of those batsmen had a strike-rate above 40 and Ketan Panchal’s 38-ball duck summed up Baroda’s approach. The captain Ambati Rayudu was battling it out on 18 off 57 deliveries at stumps.

Uttar Pradesh 227 and 217 for 4 (T Srivastava 73) lead Haryana 276 (Dewan 93, Joginder 65, Rajpoot 6-68) by 168 runsScorecard

Uttar Pradesh recovered from an iffy 121 for 4 in their second innings through the efforts of Parvinder Singh and Eklavya Dwivedi in Lucknow. UP had already conceded a 49-run lead to Haryana, who could add just five runs to their overnight 271 for 8 before being dismissed. The fast bowler Ankit Rajpoot took his best figures of 6 for 68, his maiden first-class five-for. Tanmay Srivastava made 73 upfront for UP, but Mukul Dagar, Mohammad Kaif and Suresh Raina went cheaply, with Mohit Sharma and Amit Mishra sharing the wickets. Parvinder and Dwivedi, though, added an unbeaten 96 for the fifth wicket to ease the hosts’ nerves.

Maharashtra 196 and 266 (Khadiwale 96, Bawne 55, Narwal 3-48) lead Delhi 193 by 269 runsScorecard

Delhi have a daunting 270-run target to chase on a lively Roshanara Club pitch against Maharashtra on the fourth day. The Delhi team was guilty of allowing Maharashtra to surge to 266 in the second innings with major contributions from Harshad Khadiwale (96) and Ankit Bawne (55).

For the full match-report, click here.

Dec 172012

Bengal 116 (A Das 73, Anwar 5-44, Ashish Reddy 5-51) and 183 for 6 (Banerjee 56, Saha 52*) beat Hyderabad 115 (Shami 4-36) and 181 (Akshath Reddy 49, Ashish Reddy 42, Shami 6-71) by four wicketsScorecard

Bengal overcame early and late wobbles in their chase of 181 to seal victory over Hyderabad by four wickets at Eden Gardens. Bengal were 47 for 3 at one stage, before opener Rohan Banerjee and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha revived the innings. Hyderabad kept chipping away, though. Anwar Ahmed had Banerjee caught behind and bowled Laxmi Shukla to reduce Bengal to 167 for 6, but Saha was around to guide them to victory. Bengal nearly doubled their points tally from seven to 13, and had to thank the fast bowler Shami Ahmed for that. After taking four wickets in the Hyderabad first innings, Shami grabbed six more in the second innings as the visitors could add only nine runs to their overnight 172 for 7 this morning. It was 22-year old Shami’s second ten-wicket haul in 15 first-class games.

Punjab 148 and 354 for 8 (f/o) (Yuvraj 131, Jiwanjot 103, Amitoze 52, G Yadav 4-86) lead Madhya Pradesh 323 by 179 runsScorecard

Yuvraj Singh, back to the domestic grind after being left out of the Test squad, and Jiwanjot Singh, the in-form opener, hit centuries as Punjab fought back in their follow-on innings in Gwalior. Jiwanjot hit his fourth hundred of his debut season, while Yuvraj smashed 15 fours and four sixes on his way to 131 off 150 deliveries. The duo knocked off the deficit of 175, and had started to build a lead when Jiwanjot fell to Gaurav Yadav, playing his second first-class game. Yadav removed the Punjab captain Mandeep Singh and Uday Kaul cheaply next. When Anand Rajan had Yuvraj caught, Punjab were 277 for 6, a lead of 102. Amitoze Singh hit a breezy fifty and ensured Punjab had a decent lead of 179 by stumps.

Rajasthan 135 (Anureet 5-40) and 152 for 3 (f/o) (Chouhan 51) trail Railways 405 by 117 runsScorecard

Railways medium-pacer Anureet Singh took a five-for as Rajasthan were blown away for 135 in their first innings in reply to Railways’ 405 in Bhubaneshwar. The highest any Rajasthan batsman managed was 27, by Ashok Menaria. Ranjitkumar Mali picked up 3 for 42, including the big wickets of Menaria and Rashmi Parida. Railways, with only seven points from five games and in search of an outright win, enforced the follow-on. Rajasthan batted much better the second time, opener Sourabh Chouhan leading the way with a fifty. Robin Bist and Menaria had put on an unbroken 44 for the third wicket by stumps, but Rajasthan still needed another 117 to avoid an innings defeat.

Saurashtra 248 for 8 (Vasavada 83*, Jaydev Shah 60) trail Mumbai 606 for 5 dec (Tare 222, Rohit 166, Jaffer 79, Nayar 69*) by 358 runsScorecard

Mumbai were set to take a huge first-innings lead on a slow day in Rajkot as Saurashtra lost eight wickets in pursuit of the visitors’ mammoth total. Ajit Agarkar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Javed Khan and Iqbal Abdulla took two wickets each. The home captain Jaydev Shah made 60 and there were a couple of thirties but the major contribution was from Aarpit Vasavada, who was unbeaten on 83 off 231 deliveries. But unfortunately for Saurashtra, there is little support left for him at the other end.

Dec 172012

Services 221(Paliwal 120, Sarabjit 40, Dayal 5-71) and 71 for 4 (Yashpal 40) trail Jammu and Kashmir 85 (Yadav 4-35) and 269 (Dayal 62, M Gupta 58, Ian Dev 52, Nishan 5-73, Yadav 4-79) by 63 runs


Services have inched close to secure a comfortable victory against Jammu and Kashmir in what has been an intriguing battle in Delhi. J&K managed to put up a fight in their second innings, adding another 133 runs to their overnight 136 for 6, and sniffed an opening when their bowlers reduced Services to 7 for 3. But Yashpal Singh and Soumya Swain arrested the slide, and put their side firmly on course for victory, when they ended the day on 71 for 4, needing another 63 runs.

J&K, after being virtually out of the contest on the second day, began the third day positively as their unbeaten batsmen Manik Gupta and Ram Dayal stuck for the first 22.5 overs of the day. Both batsmen got to half-centuries but couldn’t carry on. A target of 134 didn’t seem likely to test their opponents, but Services’ top three departed quickly, before the recovery. J&K’s first-innings capitulation – they were bowled out for 85 – seems to have proved the difference.

Goa 347 for 8 (Pinto 85*, S Asnodkar 81, Desai 59, Rahul 4-71) lead Himachal Pradesh 338 A Kumar 86, M Sharma 73, Gawas 4-109) by nine runs


In a tight battle for first-innings lead, Goa emerged ahead of Himachal Pradesh by ending the third day on 347 for 8, nine runs ahead of Himachal Pradesh’s 338. Middle-order batsman Reagan Pinto and opener Swapnil Asnodkar played two crucial knocks — of 85 not out and 80 respectively — to help Goa inch past their opponents’ total. But the lead looked unlikely when they lost five wickets for 33 runs to be 193 for 6 at a stage in the innings.

Asodkar and No. 3 Aamod Desai resumed at a strong 118 for 1 in the morning, and had progressed to 160 for 2 when Asnodkar got out. This led to a slide, but vital stands between Pinto and Shadab Jakati, and later Pinto and Saurabh Bandekar helped them recover.

Tripura 127 (Manukrishnan 6-37) and 70 for 3 (Warrior 2-16) trail Kerala 400 (Prem 170, Chanda 4-77) by 203 runs


Tripura face a tough final day, but are in with a chance of saving the game against the dominating Kerala. They face a deficit of 203 runs to make Kerala bat again, after a poor day at the Maharaja Bir Bikram College Stadium. Pacer Unnikrishnan Manukrishnan registered his best figures in his short first-class career when he added two more wickets to his overnight tally of four wickets, and with another newcomer Sandeep Warrior, who took three wickets, helped bowl Tripura out for 127.

After being enforced the follow-on, Tripura were again in trouble at 7 for 2, but a 63-run stand briefly halted the one-way traffic, before another wicket fell. Sreesanth, coming back from surgery to his toe, took his first first-class wicket since November, 2011.

Jharkhand 257 (Tiwary 119, Nadeem 51, Sahabuddin 4-39, Vijaykumar 4-55) and 20 for 0 trail Andhra 410 (Muzumdar 180, Shivkumar 57, Pradeep 56, Rao 4-98) by 133 runs


Andhra’s middle-order batsman Amol Muzumdar scored his third century in this Ranji season to firmly put his team in command after the third day of the game against Jharkhand in Dhanbad. Resuming at 132 for 4 , Muzumdar struck useful stands with AG Pradeep (who had stuck with him since the previous day), Duvvarapu Shivkumar and Rajesh Pawar. This helped Andhra put up 410 before being bowled out, giving them a handy 153-run lead. Jharkhan were 20 without loss at stumps.

Muzumdar struck 20 fours and two sixes in his 275-balls innings of 180. He is now among Ranji’s top ten run-getters this season.

Dec 172012

Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell added 208 for the fourth wicket, India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 5th day, December 17, 2012The partnership between Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell calmed any England nerves © BCCI

Related Links

Report : England end 28-year wait for win in India
Players/Officials: Alastair Cook
Matches: India v England at Nagpur
Series/Tournaments: England tour of India

Alastair Cook left the presentation in Nagpur overladen with trophies after England completed their first series win in India for 28 years.

Not just one series trophy but two, plus individual recognition as man of the series, completed a perfect start to Cook’s England Test captaincy.

Add his unofficial stint as Test captain in Bangladesh when he stood in for Andrew Strauss and he has already twice led England to victories in subcontinent conditions which they have often found so alien.

“It is obviously a very special day; a special tour,” he said. “We will have great memories. It’s an incredible achievement.

“After the first Test it would be easy to let our heads drop but when we realised it was a result-wicket in Mumbai that gave us a lift.”

England’s celebrations were a world away from their misery in Ahmedabad less than a month ago when they were beaten by an innings in the opening Test; their frailties against spin again apparent.

Since then, Cook has taken particular pride in England’s ability to adapt to whatever conditions have been thrown at them. His own run tally of 568 in the series set the example with the bat as England conquered India’s spinners and also unveiled two superior slow bowlers themselves in Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.

“We have played on four very different wickets,” Cook said. “We didn’t handle the Ahmedabad wicket so well, but the other three wickets were all very different in subcontinent style. Everyone in this squad can be proud of what they achieved, especially the way we bounced back after the heavy defeat in Ahmedabad.”

Nagpur was the oddest test of all, a pitch that was strikingly slow and uneven at the start and which gradually became more docile, a perfect surface for an England side prepared to bat with discipline to avoid defeat and so win the series.

“We were slightly surprised by the pitch at the start, how low and slow it was,” Cook said. “We thought it would get worse but actually it got better. We knew when we were batting in the second innings it was going to be very hard for India to take those wickets and if we applied ourselves with not too many soft dismissals it would be very hard to bowl us out.”

England’s authority on the final day was unshakeable as the Warwickshire pair of Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell took their fourth-wicket stand to 208 in 79 overs before the sides shook hands on a draw with England 352 for 4 and celebratory hugs broke out on the England balcony.

“I can’t credit the batters enough for fronting up and taking on that challenge,” Cook said. “Normally there are a few nerves on day like this but the calm way that Trotty and Belly batted was just fantastic.”

Dec 152012

On days like this, with England for a long period looking as if they would spend a day in the field without taking a wicket for just the fourth time in their history, their bowling coach David Saker could be forgiven for contemplating different challenges.

Like the chance, for instance, to replace Ashley Giles as Warwickshire’s director of cricket. Saker has not applied for the position, but he has confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he would be interested in exploring the opportunity if he was approached. Warwickshire are understood to be keen to talk.

“In many ways it would be ideal for me,” Saker said. “But I have an amazing job with England that I love and I would hate to leave it before the 2015 World Cup. Maybe it comes a couple of years early, but I would love to have a conversation with them.”

The attraction for both parties is obvious. Saker, appointed as England bowling coach in April 2010, is highly regarded in the England set-up, has an excellent relationship with England’s Warwickshire duo of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott and is keen to broaden his coaching horizons beyond the limits of specialised bowling coaching.

He also lives near Birmingham and has a young family that he sees all too infrequently due to the demands of touring – the same sort of personal issues which caused England’s coach, Andy Flower, to negotiate his withdrawal from day-to-day involvement in the limited-overs formats.

A straight-talking, good-natured Australian whose ability to mentor and communicate with players is in contrast to some modern, laptop-based coaches, he would appear to be a very good catch.

Warwickshire have attracted several other very good candidates. The 2012 county champions have an excellent stadium, a strong squad and, despite a difficult year financially, pay well.

Giles, who resigned to become England’s limited-overs coach in the New Year, is known to have favoured an internal appointment – probably the club’s current bowling coach, Graeme Welch or perhaps the club’s academy coach Dougie Brown – but the chief executive, Colin Povey is keen to explore the market in more detail.

Povey was reluctant to be drawn on the subject but, when asked about Saker replied: “People have to pick up phones and have conversations.”

Saker’s departure would be a blow to England. Not only do the bowlers speak highly of his help in analysing opposition batsmen’s weaknesses, but it was Saker who instigated the successful recall of Chris Tremlett ahead of the Ashes of 2010-11 and Saker who is credited with helping Steven Finn develop from a promising but raw youngster into a world-class fast bowler. England’s record this year is far from unblemished but, with one or two exceptions, it has been the batsmen who have let the bowlers down.

His departure to follow that of Flower would be unlikely to destabilise a settled dressing room unduly, but it might serve as a warning to the ECB about the unsustainable burden they are placing on the shoulders of players and coaches in expecting them to fulfil a relentless international schedule.

England’s touring programme might also limit the number of potential candidates applying to replace Saker. It just may be that Giles’ relationship with Welch, the former Derbyshire and Warwickshire allrounder who has performed such sterling work developing Warwickshire’s excellent crop of fast bowlers, could effectively engineer a job swap: Saker to Warwickshire and Welch to England.

There is little Saker could have told his bowlers that would have made much difference on the third day at Nagpur. England did not bowl badly. They simply came up against admirably determined opposition on a desperately slow wicket. James Anderson and Graeme Swann, in particular, could feel pretty satisfied with their performance, if not the results of it.

Tim Bresnan, however, endured a chastening day. Perhaps it is harsh to judge a man by his performance on such a track – this remains a desperately poor Test wicket – but it was hard to avoid the conclusion that Bresnan no longer looks like an effective performer at this level. It was not just that he lacked pace – that is not a huge issue on this surface – but that he drifted on to the batsmen’s legs or pitched short noticeably more often than any of his colleagues.

Thirteen months ago, Bresnan looked to be at the start of a long international career after producing valuable performances in the Ashes and against India. England won the first 13 Tests in which he played and, at that stage, he possessed a Test bowling average of 25.46 and a Test batting average of 40.22.

But an an elbow injury necessitated surgery in December 2011 and, despite his best efforts, he has been unable to recover that bit of nip that made him such a valuable member of the side. Since his return, he averages 55.43 with the ball and, since the start of the series with South Africa, he averages an eye-watering 210 runs per wicket. Perhaps due to falling confidence, his batting has also fallen away and, in 2012, he is averaging just 17.14.

It is hard to understand what he did between Ahmedabad and Nagpur that justified his recall. While Finn and Stuart Broad are absent with injuries, Graham Onions, in particular, must wonder why he was brought on the tour. There were also other options with the England Performance Programme – Stuart Meaker, in particular – who could easily have been called-up. There is a great deal of affection and respect towards Bresnan in the England camp but it is becoming hard to ignore his dip in form.

Bresnan may still have a role to play with the bat in this game. While India did not start the day in a great position, Virat Kohli and MS Dohni played the hand they were dealt perfectly. The fact that both demonstrated the discipline to reign in their natural, aggressive game was testament to their dedication and maturity and while Dhoni may be disappointed not to reach his century, his sadness should be more than assuaged by the knowledge that he has revived his side’s chances of squaring the series.

If England do hold on, or even win, it may prove once again that their superior fitness and fielding made the difference. Alastair Cook’s direct hit to run-out Dhoni was another example of the difference between the sides: England have now conjured three crucial run-outs in India’s last three innings.

Ultimately England will probably have to bat for four sessions to ensure they win the series. It should not prove beyond them on this pitch. But it should not have proved beyond them to save the Test at The Oval on a flat track or win the Test at Abu Dhabi when casing a small total. Remember the wobble in Kolkata, too.

One thing is certain, though: when they set off for this tour almost two months ago, they would have jumped at the chance to bat four sessions to win the series. They are in sight of the summit, but have one last, tough climb ahead.

Dec 152012

India 146 for 4 (Kohli 46*, Dhoni 29*, Anderson 3-31) trail England 330 by 184 runsLive scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Virat Kohli was a study of concentration, India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 3rd day, December 15, 2012Virat Kohli, who has had a poor series, ground it out for India on the third morning © BCCI

Related Links

Matches: India v England at Nagpur
Series/Tournaments: England tour of India

India had the wicketless session they desperately needed on the third morning in Nagpur although it was slow progress by Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. However, the pair had little option but to be cautious due to the combination of India’s poor overnight position, the slow pitch and accurate bowling. By lunch the deficit was still a significant 184 with the match approaching the half-way mark.

As with many players in the India team both Kohli and Dhoni are men under pressure; Kohli because of a lean series at the end of a profitable year and Dhoni because he is leading a side that is underperforming while his own returns have not been overwhelming. So it was to their credit that they resisted during the session, shelving the free-flowing scoring they are known for. It was another example, as with Joe Root, that survival is not the main issue on this surface.

The intensity of the previous evening had diluted somewhat although the England attack offered precious few scoring options during a session that yielded 59 runs in 32 overs. James Anderson, the star of the second evening, began with a four-over spell – surprisingly his only bowl of the morning – during which he found Dhoni’s outside edge through an empty slip cordon but as with so many in this match it would not have carried except to a ridiculously close catcher.

There was the occasional boundary to punctuate the dot balls. Kohli elegantly drove Tim Bresnan wide of mid-off and later picked off one that was a touch wide from Monty Panesar. There was one delivery that got England, and Graeme Swann, excited when Kohli received one which bounced and was glanced through leg slip.

Alastair Cook fiddled with his field during the session, having catchers on the drive in various positions but against batsmen intent largely on survival it was mighty tough work to make an impression. It highlighted, if that was required, the brilliance of Anderson the previous day. The new ball is due in seven overs and that should signal a push from England.

Dec 152012

The second Twenty20 international between India and Pakistan, originally scheduled for December 27 this year in Ahmedabad, has been postponed by a day, the BCCI has confirmed. The game will be played on Friday, December 28, at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium.

According to reports, the PCB requested the BCCI to reschedule the game, as December 27 is the death anniversary of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007.

The rest of the itinerary remains unchanged. India and Pakistan play two Twenty20s and three ODIs between December 25 and January 6.