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India wins by 9 wickets, Cook's epic knock in vain

After England’s dismal 1st innings performance, had anyone suggested England will go into Day 5 with a remote chance of winning, even the staunchest of England supporters would have laughed it off. But that was exactly how Day 5 started, with England at 340-5. However, things changed rapidly as England collapsed in the morning session and finished were all out for 406. Things got back as per script, India won at a canter and are 1-0 up in the 4 test match series.

Cook and Prior started the first session just the way they finished Day 4. In no hurry to score runs, they were looking to play away time. Zaheer Khan bowled a probing spell, but it was Pragyan Ojha who got the breakthrough. A soft dismissal for Prior, as he lobbed a catch back to Ojha, gone for 91. Bresnan came in next, and India were looking to tighten the screws. Cook’s marathon innings finally came to an end, as Ojha castled him in what turned out to be the turning point of the match. Cook made 176.

Broad joined Bresnan, and it was an ominous sign for England. The next wicket didn’t take long, as Yadav got Broad for 3. Swann joined Bresnan and tried to get some quick runs and extend the lead. They had a mini partnership going before Ashwin finally got his reward for 40+ overs of toil. Swann was bowled of a fullish delivery for 17. The final nail on the coffin was hit in the very next over, as Zaheer Khan had Bresnan caught at covers for 20. England were all out for 406, with a lead of 76 runs. Ojha the pick of the bowlers again, with 4 wickets. Yet again, at lunch, only one team would have had a good satisfactory meal.

India came into the post-lunch session looking to seal a comprehensive victory. Sehwag walked in along with Pujara, coming in instead of  Gambhir, in pursuit of the 77 runs required. Anderson started off proceedings along with Swann, the two bowlers most likely to make things happen for England. Both the batsmen looked in a hurry, and boundaries were flowing from both the blades. Pujara continued from where he left off, and Sehwag was having his usual fun. Sehwag tried one shot too many, and was caught at long on by Pietersen for 25 off Swann. Kohli walked in with 20 more runs required. The future of Indian cricket got together and knocked out the remaining runs without much drama, with Kohli getting the winning runs. Cheteshwar Pujara was deservedly declared Man of the Match.

Indian bowling looked a bit at sea on Day 4, but in the end they were deserving victors. England, or rather Cook and Prior, gave a much better fight in the England second innings. The rest of the batsmen still look massive suspects to spin. Andy Flower and Graham Gooch should look to work with the batsmen and try to iron out the issues. With Finn hopefully back in the next test, their bowling might turn out to be a bit more potent. England should also look to somehow fit in Panesar into their team.

India, on the other hand, look settled. Kohli and Sachin missed out, and will be looking to make amends in the next test. Apart from a barren period in England’s second innings, the bowling did its job well. I don’t see any changes being made in their team immediately. But personally, I would love to see Rahane getting a game in this series. Second test begins in Mumbai, on November 23rd. Can India take an unassailable 2-0 lead, or will England make a much better fight out of it?

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