Dec 172012

The English dressing room is elated, hugging and fist-pumping and smiles all around, there is a lot of emotion there, while there will be some serious faces and more serious discussions in the Indian dressing room later on. Right now, it’s time for Cook and co. to celebrate what has been, barring a few hiccups and THAT one day in Ahmedabad, a comprehensive victory. England have outplayed India in all departments, and it’s a series they would cherish for long. 

No other team has bounced back from a Test down to win the series in India, and all the hype of a revenge series, as it was being touted, has backfired on the hosts. For Cook, in his first series as official captain, this is a moment to remember forever. 

So, it’s all over, and England have ended India’s eight-year run without a series defeat at home. They last won in 1984-85, they came back from a Test down to win that series, led by David Gower. They have come back from a defeat here now, led from the front by Alastair Cook. That was a 2-1 win in five Tests, this is a 2-1 win in four Tests.

End of play, match drawn

Over 154: England 352/4; Bell 116, Root 20And finally! An hour before time, England finally declare, the match is called off, and Gambhir will go on the scoreboard as the man who bowled the last over in this series that England have won so comprehensively.

Over 152: England 337/4; Bell 103, Root 18England have not declared and India have decided to have some fun here. And so, Gautam Gambhir comes on to bowl, his very first bowl in Tests. A little turn, and a single.

Over 151: England 336/4; Bell 102, Root 18That’s it! Bell gets his 100. His third longest Test innings in terms of balls faced. Gets there with three runs off Ashwin past backward square leg. His first three-figure mark in India, and well-deserved. 

Over 145: England 316/4; Bell 89, Root 11One run to Bell, courtesy a slight push off Ashwin to covers, and that’s one more run to the elusive 100.

Over 140: England 310/4; Bell 87, Root 7Jadeja to Bell after tea and India would, in fact, be hoping for him to get the 100 quickly so that they can all go back in. But it’s a maiden.


Over 139: England 310/4; Bell 87, Root 7Ashwin bowls the last over before tea, and surely England will get India to bat for one final session? Can Bell get his century here in this one over? But Root is on strike, and he plays out a maiden. No declarations yet, so England will still come out to bat in the final session.

Wicket: Trott c Kohli b Ashwin 143

Over 135: England 304/4; Bell 87, Root 1India get a wicket. Finally. This partnership, of 208 runs, is broken by Ashwin, and Jonathan Trott walks back. On the leg stump and he gets bat on to the ball, guiding it to Virat Kohli at leg slip. Joe Root has to walk out a second time. On the flip side, does this mean England will still wait for a Bell century, since the 300-mark for England is already come and gone? 

England on the verge of 300, Bell closing in on 100, the 200-partnership is up — there’s a lot happening out there (hell, who am I kidding?) But really, it’s good of England to let Bell get his ton — he has been out of form all through this series, so these runs would do him a lot of good.

Over 132: England 294/3; Trott 139, Bell 82Jadeja to Bell, three dots but makes up with a huge six over mid-off to enter the 80s. Guess England are waiting for him to get to his 100. If they are, we only wish Bell gets a couple more of these monsters and gets it over and done with.

Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott take a single on Day Five.

Over 129: England 283/3; Trott 135, Bell 75Chawla to Bell and Sehwag drops! Not that it would have made much difference to the result of the game but still. The ball took an edge and went straight to Sehwag at slip, an awkward height but Sehwag seems to have been caught unawares, unable to hold on. Maiden. 

Is this the time to just remind ourselves and anyone who might want to be bothered about it that these two are now the two highest scorers for England in this Test? Pietersen and Root got 73 each in the first innings, so this partnership is the highest as well for England in Nagpur this time. Oh well, guess trivia are the biggest support for those waiting for this day to get over.

Over 125: England 274/3; Trott 127, Bell 74Chawla gets the first ball to turn appreciably but it’s very slow, low and passes through the big gap between Trott’s bat and pad as he pushes forward safely to Dhoni, who whips off the bails for good measure even as Trott’s back foot is firmly planted on the ground. It’s a maiden and Trott’s not bothered to even react. Drinks.

Over 120: England 265/3; Trott 120, Bell 72Ojha comes to bowl and England get two runs. Yawn. The only excitement in this match will probably come when there is a changeover between innings, as and when England decide they have had enough fun in the middle. Or maybe a little bit when Bell gets his 100. Whatever!

Over 117: England 261/3; Trott 117, Bell 71Chawla to Bell, fuller delivery, straight in and punched through the overs on the back foot for four off the first ball. The second goes through covers as well for another four, timed perfectly. Defended the rest. Ahem. 

The lead for England is now past 250. Surely they can think of declaring and letting India bat two sessions? Or maybe not. Maybe they will declare on 300.

But perhaps, Ahmedabad’s where it all started to unravel India as well, specially in the second innings that showed this English team can fight back, hold its nerves, not lose its head and get along with the business of playing a Test, even as all the energy on the Indian side was concentrated on the kind of pitch they wanted to play on.  

It honestly doesn’t matter hereon on what happens in this Test. The series is over, England have won 2-1 and they have ended a 28-year wait for that. There were not too many who gave them a chance of doing that here, specially after that thrashing in Ahmedabad.

Over 112: England 249/3; Trott 115, Bell 61Chawla to Trott, a single.

Over 112: England 248/3; Trott 114, Bell 61Ojha comes on to bowl now and just a single.

Over 111: England 247/3; Trott 113, Bell 61Chawla to Trott and starts with a four, seems the break has had no effect on the batsmen here. A full toss, smashed through midwicket. Then a length ball nudged off pads for three runs towards deep square leg. 

Back after lunch, Chawla continues. 

Off course, the official declaration of a series win for England will only come at the end of the day. Can a vintage Sehwag innings wrest back the game? Remember, a draw will still not be enough for India, they HAVE TO WIN.  


Over 109: England 240/3; Trott 106, Bell 61Ashwin gets the last over before lunch. Full on off, pushed to midwicket. Flighted, defended back to the bowler. Two runs glanced to fine leg to end the session. 

These two came together when England were showing the first signs of a panic attack and have now got a ton and half ton each. The first session is 15 minutes away from completion, England are ahead by 237 runs and they can order the Anthony D’Mello Trophy to be packed to specifications for the long flight back home. A 28-year-old for wait for England is all but over now, and Cook and co. have successfully replaced David Gower and co. as the last team to win a Test series in India.

Over 105: England 233/3; Trott 103, Bell 57Piyush Chawla has been brought on to attack and is taken to the cleaners. Yes, by these two, even on a pitch like this. 13 runs came off that over, three boundaries included. Starts with a ball flighted outside off and Trott drives it between short cover and extra cover for four. Another one driven between mid-on and mid-wicket for another four and that brings up Trott’s century in some style. Standing ovation from the English dressing room. A single brings Bell on strike, and he decides to join the party with a four of his own, bottom-edged between Dhoni’s legs.

Over 102: England 219/3; Trott 94, Bell 52Ashwin to Bell and the out of form batsman muist be relieved to get his maiden fifty of the series. Half-volley on off and driven between stumps and mid-on for four. Another single to round up the over.

Over 100: England 210/3; Trott 90, Bell 47Ashwin to Trott, starts with a flick down to gully for a single.

Ravindra Jadeja bowls on Day Five.

Might be immaterial here but am I the only one who is not amused by the dancing and laughter in the India camp during drinks? Not exactly the state of a team one would expect is on the verge of a historic defeat. Then again, who am I to deny the players from some harmless fun? 

Over 97: England 206/3; Trott 87, Bell 46Ojha to Bell, outside off, defended. A single off a flighted delivery to bring on drinks.

Over 93: England 197/3; Trott 82, Bell 42Ojha to Trott, three runs. And with this, the England lead has crossed 200.

Over 88: England 185/3; Trott 79, Bell 33Jadeja to Trott, fired into pads and swept for four. And the half hour is up, which means five and half hours to go before England return with the Anthony D’Mello Trophy.

Over 83: England 173/3; Trott 71, Bell 29Sharma continues to Bell and starts with a short of length, wide off no-ball. Next ball, wide, goes for four driven between mid-off and extra cover. Then a single pulled away to square leg. A single from Trott to round off the over with the first boundary of the day.

Over 82: England 162/3; Trott 67, Bell 24Jadeja to Trott, maiden. How many times have we read/seen/written “a maiden” in this series? The 100th maiden came up yesterday, by the way.

Over 81: England 166/3; Trott 70, Bell 24India take the second new ball and throw it to Ishant Sharma. Straight on off, and left alone. Then one on middle and leg and Trott works it through midwicket for easy three runs.

Over 80: England 162/3; Trott 67, Bell 24A quiet start to the day after the fireworks — strictly verbal, not with the bat or ball — and a single for Trott.

Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell walk out for what may well be the last time in this series. Ravindra Jadeja with the ball. The brief war of words yesterday between the Indians and Trott was a rare outburst of frustrations, but the Indians might have picked on the wrong man to unsettle.

Scoring is a chore on this wicket, so if England put on another 100 by lunch, they may as well call off the game. 250-odd runs in two sessions will be impossible on this wicket. Then again, there is Sehwag.

It’s down to this final day of the Test series, which will decide if there will be a winner or the series end in a draw. On a pitch that was expected to fall apart by the third day but is still as hard as they come, England still need to put on a few more runs before they can sit back and relax. They also need to bat out the first session today to ensure they will go back with a first series win in 28 years and the Anthony D’Mello Trophy.

India Today brings you live coverage of the fourth and final Test between India and England from the VCA Stadium, Nagpur.

Dec 162012

Virat Kohli and Jonathan Trott exchange words on day fourNagpur: Virat Kohli and Jonathan Trott were involved in a verbal duel during the fourth day of the final Test between India and England here on Saturday.

Trott, batting on 43 in England`s second innings total of 123 for three, tried to cut a short delivery from pacer Ishant Sharma which was taken behind by Mahendra Singh Dhoni who threw it up high in the air in delight only to see his claim and that of other team members rejected by umpire Kumar Dharmasena.

Following Dharmasena turning down the confident appeal, Kohli ran up to the batsman for an exchange of words after which square leg umpire Rod Tucker summoned Dhoni and spoke to him.

It was not clear from TV replays whether Trott had edged Sharma or not.

Earlier, Cook had stood his ground when he was declared out caught behind for 13 by Dharmasena and left the field reluctantly after his first twin-failure in this four-game series.

He was out for one in the first innings here.


First Published: Sunday, December 16, 2012, 17:31

Dec 162012

England keep India`s desperate victory attempts at bayNagpur: A desperate India`s push for a series-levelling win was met with a dogged resistance from England who rode on Jonathan Trott`s gritty half-century to overcome a nervous phase as the fourth and final cricket Test seemed headed for a draw here on Sunday.

India batted for one hour in the morning before declaring their first innings at 326 for nine, four runs behind England, but could not make sufficient inroads as England reached 161 for three at close of an absorbing fourth day`s play.

The hosts needed quick wickets but the fourth day track at the VCA stadium did not show any signs of deterioration as England batted out the day without seeming to be under any major discomfort.

Trott (66) and Ian Bell (24) were batting at stumps, with England having an overall lead of 165 runs.

With just one day let in the game, a draw appears to be the likely result though all four outcomes — an Indian win, England win, tie and a draw — can still be possible.

India will need to dismiss England as quickly as possible tomorrow and score the required runs to entertain hopes of a series-levelling win. England will be quite content with a draw which would be enough to give them their first Test series triumph on Indian soil in 28 years. The David Gower-led England team had last won a series in 1984-85.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni kept shuffling his bowlers in a bid to break through the England innings but the English batsmen applied themselves well to keep the hosts at bay, much to the disappointment of a sizeable holiday crowd.

England were at a shaky 94 for three at one stage with captain Alastair Cook (13), Nick Compton (34) and Kevin Pietersen (6) back in the pavilion but Trott and Bell ensured that there were no further setbacks with a defiant 67-run partnership.

Trott was however a little lucky as a confident appeal for caught behind off Ishant Sharma was turned down by umpire Kumar Dharmasena, leading to some heated words being exchanged between Trott and Virat Kohli after the over.

Cook was controversially declared caught behind after making a painstaking 13 in 105 minutes, to Ravichandran Ashwin, while his opening partner Compton was given out leg before to Pragyan Ojha to leave England at 81 for two at tea.

The England skipper seemed to have clearly missed edging the ball to Dhoni, but was given out wrongly by Kumar Dharmasena for the second time in the match.

Replays also showed that Compton had been given out off an inside edge by Rod Tucker, though the ball was caught at slip by Virat Kohli at gully on the full.

Soon after tea debutant Ravindra Jadeja disturbed Pietersen`s off stump when the England batsman offered no stroke expecting the ball to turn away.

The visitors, clearly aiming to draw the match, added only 64 runs in 33.4 overs between lunch and tea after they were 17 for no loss in 13 overs at lunch. They were more attacking in the last session, scoring 80 in 32.2 overs.

Before their debatable ejections from the crease, both Cook and Compton were bent upon defending everything.

Runs came in a trickle though Cook was a bit fortunate.

A delicate leg glance off Ojha struck Cook`s counterpart Dhoni`s right pad and went in between lone slip Virender Sehwag`s legs for his first four.

In the same over, he tried to drive the left-arm spinner and missed the ball completely, but was lucky as it bounced over the stumps for four byes.

Cook`s deadpan defense was always fraught with danger as Ashwin made a ball turn across the face of his defensive forward stretch and earned a caught behind decision in India`s favour.

After Cook`s ouster, both Compton and Trott were also keen on defending rather than scoring runs, barring one occasion when a ball slipped out of Jadeja`s hand and was rolling wide when Trott hammered it for a `free` four. It was clearly against the spirit of the game.


First Published: Sunday, December 16, 2012, 17:21

Dec 162012

England on course of historic series win against IndiaNagpur: Some resolute batting by Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell in the last session of the day four of the fourth Test has inched them close to a historic series win here at the Jamtha Stadium today.

India who are 1-2 down in the series and desperately looking for a series levelling were at sea as the Trott-Bell safely put up a 67 run partnership for the fourth wicket to guide the visitors to 161-3 and have taken 165 runs lead.

Trott was unbeaten on 66 off 153 balls including nine boundaries while Bell was batting on 24 off 67 balls laced with four boundaries.

England started off well and even though they did not score freely, they put up great resistance. They went to lunch for 17-0.

But India had a good post lunch session and dismissed both the openers. Ravichandran Ashwin got the first breakthrough after he had the dangerous Alastair Cook caught behind. Compton and Trott then put up a good partnership for the second wicket.

But Compton’s (34) resistance was cut after Pragyan Ojha trapped him plumb in front of the stumps.

Pietersen fell soon after the tea and that was the last wicket to fall in the day.

Earlier India starting the day on 297-8, never showed any intent. They batted for one hour but could add only 29 runs to their overnight score before declaring their innings on 323-9. Pragyan Ojha was the only batsman to get out in the day so far after he played on Monty Panesar’s delivery onto his stumps.

James Anderson was the wrecker-in-chief for England and returned with figures of 4-81.

Brief scores:

England 330 and 161 for 3 (Trott 66*, Bell 24*) lead India 326 for 9 dec (Kohli 103, Dhoni 99, Anderson 4-81) by 165 runs

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Dec 162012

Nagpur: Openers Alastair Cook and Nick Compton safely saw off the first session of day three of the fourth Test at the Jamtha Stadium here today.

England were 17 for no loss at lunch with Cook on 1, while Compton was batting on 14.

Earlier India who started the day on 297-8 added 29 runs to their overnight score before declaring their innings on 323-9. Pragyan Ojha was the only batsman to get out in the day so far after he played on Monty Panesar’s delivery onto his stumps.

James Anderson was the wrecker-in-chief for England and returned with figures of 4-81.

By Indian Sports News Network 

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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

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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

Nagpur: A brilliant partnership between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli took India to 227/4 at tea on day three of the fourth Test being played at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur.

India started the afternoon session at 146/4 with Kohli on 46 and Dhoni on 31. Kohli soon went past the fifty run-mark as England took the new ball in the 81st over. Dhoni raised the tempo as soon as the new ball was taken and played some fabulous strokes to reach fifty.

Both batsmen played superbly and raised the rate of scoring to take the Indian score past two hundred. Soon the two had a partnership of 150 runs.

India at tea were trailing by 103 runs with Dhoni unbeaten on 75 and Kohli on 77.  

By Indian Sports News Network

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Dec 142012

England 277 for 7 (Root 65*, Swann 19*) v IndiaLive scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Joe Root scored 28, Mumbai A v England XI, Mumbai, 1st day, November 3, 2012Joe Root’s impressive Test debut continued on the second day © Getty Images

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The final Test continued to develop in slow-motion on the second day in Nagpur, but England will have been content with their morning’s work as they kept India in the field. Joe Root and Matt Prior, who both reached vital half-centuries, carried their sixth-wicket stand to 102 before India had two swift breakthroughs. But Graeme Swann remained with Root until the interval to maintain England’s ambitions of passing 300.

Root’s highly accomplished Test debut, which began shortly before tea on the first day, spanned 200 deliveries by lunch. His half-century came from 154 balls and even the loss of two quick wickets did not shake his concentration. If anything, it prompted a few more attempts at innovation with some deft paddles and sweeps that would have made Graham Thorpe proud. His one nervous moment came on 64 when he had to dive full-length to beat a direct hit from Gautam Gambhir at cover.

Swann, meanwhile, played a sensible innings to ensure the innings did not fritter away. Off the mark with a meaty clip through square leg, he twice lofted boundaries over deep midwicket against the spinners – the first a full delivery slog-swept and the second as he chipped down the pitch at Ravindra Jadeja.

England resumed on 199 for 5 and the familiar pattern of dead-batted blocks was the order of the day. The first boundary came via an outside edge from Prior against Ishant Sharma which summed up the state of the surface as the nick carried half to MS Dhoni, who was already standing reasonably close.

Sharma’s first spell lasted three overs – he could only operate in short bursts – then it was a return to all-spin which prompted both batsmen to remove their helmets in favour of England caps, Prior’s slightly more worn and sweat-stain than the crisp, fresh-out-of-packet, version Root was wearing. This really could have been Test cricket out of the 1980s in the subcontinent.

Steadily, though, England did begin to make useful progress. Any width was latched onto by both players as Root cut Piyush Chawla through point and Prior repeated the effort against Jadeja and another took him to his fifty. Curiously, both Jadeja, and more so Chawla, were given a bowl before Pragyan Ojha, but in the end the breakthrough came from the man who now appears the fourth-choice spinner having begun the series tipped to be the major threat.

R Ashwin switched his line to around the wicket and floated a straight delivery past Prior’s outside edge. Prior was aghast that he had managed to miss the delivery while Ashwin’s celebrations were those of relief as much as joy.

Although this isn’t a surface where anything is likely to happen quickly, India produced back-to-back wickets as Dhoni, in one of his more alert and innovative pieces of captaincy in what has been a passive series for him, immediately withdrew Ashwin from the attack in favour of Sharma.

Barely before Twitter fingers and commentators had started to question the move, Sharma found reverse-swing to trap Tim Bresnan in front of middle and leg. Sharma, though, could not bowl long spells and the movement he found reinforced the feeling Dhoni would have been better served with another seamer.

Dec 142012

Piyush Chawla gets ready to bowl at the nets, Colombo, September 25, 2012Piyush Chawla said the umpiring mistakes were part and parcel of the game © AFP

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Piyush Chawla believes the Indian batting hasn’t failed, the bowling unit has been doing well, and that there is no need to panic. Replying to England’s 330 on a tacky surface, India – 2-1 down coming into the decider – were 87 for 4 with prospects of batting last on the pitch that can start breaking up any time.

“We have lost a few wickets, but we have two quality batsmen [Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni] at the crease,” said Chawla. “They are having a good partnership, they are seeing the ball really well, and hope for the best because the way these guys are middling it, we will like to have a good session in the morning.”

Asked if the batting failures have affected the bowling unit’s morale adversely, Chawla said: “There are phases. It’s not as if they have flopped a lot. We’re still we are scoring 300-350 every match. I don’t think it has affected the bowlers much. We are doing well as a bowling unit.”

Chawla said it was just one partnership – between Joe Root and Matt Prior – that thwarted them otherwise they restricted England well. England began the day at 199 for 5, and Chawla said they would have been happy if they had bowled India out for under 300. “We thought if we get one wicket at the start, we can stop them around under 300, but Prior and Joe Root batted really well,” he said. “Once we broke that partnership, we recovered well.”

Asked about how disappointing conceding lower-order runs were – England having been 139 for 5 at one stage – Chawla said, “As I said before, they got one big partnership, but after that we restricted them well.”

Chawla, who took 4 for 69, made a surprising comeback to the Test side in a season that he has averaged 54.30 with the ball. His first-class averages over the previous two seasons have been 40.61 and 41.04. He said the stats were bad because he has bowled on seaming tracks, and he hasn’t been getting long spells.

Chawla was asked – citing Cheteshwar Pujara’s disappointment at being given out caught off the elbow and pad – if it was high time that India agreed to using DRS. “Replays suggested that it was not out, but it is part and parcel of the game,” Chawla said. “At the end of the day, umpires are also human, so you can’t really say.”