Sunday, December 16, 2012

India dismiss openers Cook and Compton at tea

NAGPUR, December 16, 2012 PTI

India broke through the stubborn England defense by dismissing rival skipper Alastair Cook and Nick Compton at the stroke of tea to leave the visitors at 81/2 in the fourth and final cricket Test at Nagpur on Sunday.

Cook was controversially declared out after making a painstaking 13 off 93 balls to off-spinner R Ashwin, while his opening partner Compton was given out leg before to left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha as England extended their overall lead to 85.

The unbeaten batsman at the end of the second session was one-down Jonathan Trott on 22 after facing 54 balls and striking three fours.

The visitors, leading 2-1 in the series, were clearly aiming to draw the match as they added only 64 runs in 33.4 overs between lunch and tea after they were 17 for no loss in 13 overs at lunch.

Both the openers were out to debatable decisions by the umpires. Cook was out after battling for 105 minutes during which he struck only one four, the same number hit by his opening partner Compton who batted for 166 minutes and faced 135 balls.

The England skipper seemed to have clearly missed edging the ball to his opposite number Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but was given out by umpire Kumar Dharmasena for the second time in the match.

In the first innings, India's scourge in the series had been declared out leg before for 1 to Ishant Sharma, another debatable decision by the Sri Lankan umpire.

The visiting captain, thus, had his first failure in both innings of a Test in this series after raking up three centuries on the trot in the opening three matches, though with some help from the umpires. And thrice in eight innings his wicket was grabbed by Ashwin.

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

Before their debatable ejections from the crease, both were bent upon defending endlessly before lunch and after the commencement of the second session too.

Runs came in a trickle though Cook was a bit fortunate twice in one over of Ojha before reaching double figures.

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

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

But his 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.

Cook and Compton, surprisingly the more adventurous of the two, added only 31 runs in the first hour after lunch off 17 overs.

Following Cook's ouster after his run crawl, both Compton and Trott were also bent upon defending rather than scoring runs, barring one occasion when a ball slipped out of Ravindra Jadeja's hand and was rolling wide when Trott hammered it for a 'free' four. It was clearly against the spirit of the game.

The duo continued in the same vein as India tried to break this stand without success till the stroke of tea when Ojha successfully appealed for a leg before the decision against Compton.

In the morning, India conceded a four-run first innings lead by declaring their first innings closed at 326 for nine after an hour's play.

The hosts, replying to the visitors' first innings score of 330 and resuming at the overnight 297 for 8, lost one more wicket -- that of number 10 batsman Ojha for 3 -- before applying closure to their innings.

Brief Scores:

England 1st Innings: 330 all out

India 1st Innings: 326 declared

England 2nd Innings: 81/2 in 46.4 overs (Nick Compton 34 batting, Jonathan Trott 22 batting, R Ashwin 1/19).
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