England Struggle After Pujara Masterclass

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AHMEDABAD – England made an appalling start in their efforts to save the first Test in Ahmedabad, despite being given a batting master class by Cheteshwar Pujara and Virender Sehwag for a good two days.

India consolidated a mammoth 521 for eight declared on the back of Pujara’s 389-ball 206 and a breezy 74 from Yuvraj Singh, who shrugged off all the criticism about his fitness with fluent strokes around the ground.

For England, though, it was anything but fluent, and when they came up against the proposition of facing 18 overs under fading light, what followed was pretty much expected. Captain Alastair Cook witnessed from the non-striker’s end as debutant Nick Compton, nightwatchman James Anderson and England’s rock in the middle, Jonathan Trott, all went in quick succession.

Cook’s men were immediately faced with the task of facing Ravichandran Ashwin’s bag of tricks and even slow left-armer Pragyan Ojha. The subsequent scenes seemed all too familiar.

A spitting off-break was too much for Compton, turning between bat and pad to hit leg-stump and gave Ashwin his 50th Test wicket in only his 9th outing, a record for India.

Anderson went bat-pad to Ojha an over later, and then in the next Trott fell likewise to Ashwin.

All-rounder Samit Patel who will be one of those called upon to avoid England from folding, said there was enough in the tank to provide resistance.

“We’ve got two world-class batsmen at the crease, Belly [Ian Bell] still to come, myself and Matty P [Matt Prior] – a lot of batting,” said Patel.

“There’s no question about how long we can bat. We’ve got the same potential of batting as India have – and we’ve got to keep believing that. You have to earn the right to get in first, and I think Cookie [Alastair Cook] and Kev [Kevin Pietersen] in the morning have got to set their stall out and bat well. We’ve put in the hard yards; we know what we can do we’re good players of spin.

“Tomorrow, we hope we can show what we’re made out of.”  Earlier, the hosts, resuming on 323/4, milked the listless England bowlers of whom Graeme Swann was the only successful one. He picked up 5/144.

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