From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.34 :: Aug. 25, 2011

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CRICKET / EDGBASTON TEST

India outplayed in all departments

Alastair Cook was relentless, batting through every session as if it were his first, the strain not showing in the least. In all he batted 12 hours and 47 minutes, making his runs (294) calmly without ever feeling the need to step up the rate of scoring. S. Ram Mahesh reports.

The most damning statistic of the third Test was that Alastair Cook made 294 by himself; India, all its batsmen put together, couldn't make as much in either of its innings. The Indian batting failed six times in three Tests, and therein lies the reason for England's 3-0 win, with a Test to play. Andrew Strauss won the toss for the first time in the series. His bowlers didn't let him down, dismissing India for 224 in conditions that seemed ripe for seam and swing bowling, but weren't as bad as everyone estimated.

It wasn't unlike England making 221 on the first day of the second Test at Trent Bridge with some bold lower-order play. At Edgbaston too there was a late-order fight-back after a collapse following a solid partnership between Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid. M. S. Dhoni finally found both his touch and the right blend of caution and attack. He'd looked out of sorts in the first two Tests, and while his glove-work didn't improve significantly, he played his best Test innings of the year.

England had ambushed India in the second Test, Stuart Broad taking a hat-trick, but India's bowlers couldn't manage the same. They came up against Cook, who simply refused to get out until he got to within a stroke of 300. The left-hander had allies: Strauss finally got some runs after threatening to all series; Kevin Pietersen had a century for the taking before falling lbw to the admirable Praveen Kumar; Eoin Morgan made certain of his place with a century against a tired attack and spread fields; Tim Bresnan scored his second half-century in as many innings.

Cook was relentless, batting through every session as if it were his first, the strain not showing in the least. He'd been dismissed for low scores in the first two Tests, and he confessed after the second day's play, he was determined to make the start count. In all he batted 12 hours and 47 minutes, making his runs calmly without ever feeling the need to step up the rate of scoring. He paid tribute to Graham Gooch, saying England's batting coach had stoked the fires of his run hunger.

“We talk about trying to make ‘Daddy Hundreds', which is (a term from) from (Graham Gooch) Goochie and he doesn't really count anything under 150,” said Cook. “We have to keep working as hard as we have. You have a work ethic in our batters over the last couple of years since Goochie came on board. Since then results have gone through the roof but we have to keep our feet on the ground. We want to improve all the time.”

Cook's 19 centuries is the second most in Test history by a batsman before turning 27; Tendulkar had 22. The Englishman doesn't appear a genius, but he comprehends the craft of making runs, a not commonly appreciated aspect of batting.

England's 710 for seven declared was its highest score in a five-day Test match, and the pressure it exerted on India in the second innings was immense. Sachin Tendulkar was the only one in the top six to make at least 40, as India tottered on 89 for six. James Anderson did most of the damage with his control of swing and sharpness of pace.

England's bowlers got more out of the Edgbaston wicket than India's did, for they hit it with more intent and energy. Dhoni was again defiant, making an unbeaten half-century. Praveen Kumar, who had played a cameo in the first innings, biffed a few big blows after being struck on the thumb, but all this rearguard action did was reduce the margin of defeat slightly. India had been outplayed in all departments.

With the defeat, India lost both the series and the No. 1 ranking to England. Strauss was understandably overjoyed. “The wickets have been shared around the bowlers and the pressure they have applied has been relentless, I don't think there are many better in the world right now,” said Strauss. “It was fantastic to get runs myself and then sit on the sofa and watch Cookie bat for two days. He has amazing concentration and determination, he's in this patch at the moment where he's very clear what his game was and he's an example for us all. Getting to No. 1 has been a goal for a long time and it fills me with a lot of pride to know we have completed something very special. We have had to work very hard and the guys have put a lot of hard graft to get to No. 1.”

Dhoni conceded that his team had been defeated by a superior side. “I can't really pinpoint the reasons why we didn't bat well. If it was that easy, we would have corrected it. The pressure kept mounting, and England played very well. We had to be at our best to defeat them. We needed all departments to click together. But we never managed it.”

THE SCORES

Third Test, Edgbaston, Birmingham, August 10-13, 2011. England won by an innings and 242 runs.

India — 1st innings: G. Gambhir b Bresnan 38; V. Sehwag c Prior b Broad 0; R. Dravid b Bresnan 22; S. Tendulkar c Anderson b Broad 1; V. V. S. Laxman c Broad b Bresnan 30; S. Raina b Anderson 4; M. Dhoni c Strauss b Broad 77; A. Mishra c Prior b Broad 4; Praveen Kumar c Prior b Bresnan 26; Ishant Sharma c Cook b Anderson 4; S. Sreesanth (not out) 0; Extras (b-4, lb-14) 18. Total: 224.

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-59, 3-60, 4-75, 5-92, 6-100, 7-111, 8-195, 9-224.

England bowling: Anderson 21.2-3-69-2; Broad 17-6-53-4; Bresnan 20-4-62-4; Swann 4-0-22-0.

England — 1st innings: A. Strauss b Mishra 87; A. Cook c Raina b Ishant 294; I. Bell b Praveen 34; K. Pietersen lbw b Praveen 63; E. Morgan c Sehwag b Raina 104; R. Bopara lbw b Mishra 7; M. Prior c Tendulkar b Mishra 5; T. Bresnan (not out) 53; Extras (b-11, lb-34, w-3, nb-15) 63. Total (seven wkts., decl.) 710.

Fall of wickets: 1-186, 2-252, 3-374, 4-596, 5-605, 6-613, 7-710.

India bowling: Praveen 40-13-98-2; Sreesanth 36-4-158-0; Ishant 37.1-7-159-1; Mishra 43-2-150-3; Raina 28-1-83-1; Tendulkar 4-0-17-0.

India — 2nd innings: G. Gambhir c Swann b Anderson 14; V. Sehwag c Strauss b Anderson 0; R. Dravid c Prior b Anderson 18; S. Tendulkar (run out) 40; V. V. S. Laxman c Prior b Anderson 2; S. Raina lbw b Swann 10; M. Dhoni (not out) 74; A. Mishra c Broad b Swann 22; Praveen Kumar c Bopara b Broad 40; Ishant Sharma lbw b Broad 0; S. Sreesanth c Pietersen b Bresnan 5; Extras (b-6, lb-6, w-7) 19. Total: 244.

Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-35, 3-40, 4-56, 5-87, 6-89, 7-130, 8-205, 9-221.

England bowling: Anderson 18-3-85-4; Broad 12-4-28-2; Bresnan 10.3-3-19-1; Swann 13-1-88-2; Pietersen 2-0-12-0.



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