After being set an improbable target on a pitch that was finally taking turn on the final day, Virat Kohli’s patient knock ensured that India took the draw on the final day of the first Test between India and England at Rajkot.
England had won the toss and elected to bat and made merry of the good batting conditions as three batsmen scored centuries as the visitors put on 537. In response, centuries from Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara and fifty from Ravichandran Ashwin meant India brought the deficit down to 48 at the end of their first innings.
England then scored 260/3 in the second innings before declaring and setting India a target of 310 to win from 49 overs thanks to another century from Alastair Cook in India. Although Murali Vijay spoke about being ready to chase any target after day five, soon after the fall of Gautam Gambhir, India settled for the draw and eventually finished on 172/6.
For his century and his impressive performance with the ball, Moeen Ali took home the Man of the Match. He said: "Very good pitch. Enjoyed batting with Rooty. We feel like we've prepared really well. Something I've developed over the past few years, in international cricket, the pace is important. I thought we played spin really well here.”
England captain Alastair Cook heaped praise on debutant Haseeb Hameed.
"Really tough five days, good toss to win. In India if you score 530, you're always in the game. good cricket wicket. Relentless with the ball, we didn't let India score too quickly. To keep them to 480, we did well,” he said.
“The way Has (Hameed) played was brilliant. Wanted to make them score something they couldn't get. Flat for the first three days, and then turned more and more. He (Hameed) looked the real deal in the first innings, we certainly found a batsman there, he certainly looks a good 'un. Adil stepped up another level.”
Indian captain Virat Kohli was glad the game gave him an opportunity to find out “new things”. He said : "Good opportunity to find out new things about your game. Couldn't get a better chance to practice other aspects of your game (towards the end). Important to convince yourself you can negotiate what's thrown at you. We could have been much better on days 1 and 2.
(Speaking about how things panned out) We dropped five catches. England are a side we are not going to take for granted. Good to get things done in the end. Need to correct the things we need to. England's bowlers put constant pressure. We need to accept what happened.”
England batsman Joe Root admitted that he was frustrated by the result. "Slight frustration, credit to Cooky and Has for setting the game. A lot of confidence going into the next one. We have to make sure we put the hardwork in for the next Test,” he said.
“We're doing some good stuff at the moment. So many chances that could have gone, that could have happened. We gave our everything in those 50 overs. That second innings score is not a fair reflection of the wicket, the top order was outstanding."
Here are the reactions from the cricket fraternity:
Another example of why Test cricket must remain a 5 day contest #IndvsEng— Alec Stewart (@StewieCricket) November 13, 2016
Fantastic test match and very good start to the series #IndvsEng— Eoin Morgan (@Eoin16) November 13, 2016
What a player Cook is!! Probably the most mentally tough cricketer out there, amazing powers of concentration! Englands best ever! #IndvEng— James Taylor (@jamestaylor20) November 13, 2016
England obliged to make a match out of it...they've started make a move. for Cook. Nobody has got more centuries vs India on Indian soil.— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) November 13, 2016