India 521-8 dec. England 191 & 340-5 lead by 10 runs
Here’s a message to all the Indian fans who post on cricinfo. I’m not talking about the mature, respectful and insightful ones, I’m talking about the childish ones with a chip on their shoulder: this is what ‘fight’ looks like.
In times gone by, England teams would have folded in these circumstances – much like India folded meekly in their 4-0 thrashing in England last year. When presented with a huge first innings deficit, and conditions as alien as it’s possible to get, most teams fold like a vegetarian dosa. In fact, that’s what most of us expected England to do in Ahmedabad.
What nobody counted on, however, was Alastair Cook. What a marvellous, incredible, sensational knock. I don’t have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to be honest. It was ‘fight’ personified. Not to mention supreme fitness and incredible mental strength.
Cook batted through the whole day – and he rarely looked troubled. He’s currently batted over 500 minutes for his unbeaten 168. What a way to start your tenure as captain.
At the final drinks break, the Indian fielders looked exhausted. They sat in a circle, wiped their brows, and shrugged their shoulders. That’s after spending two days in the field.
Here’s a statistic for you: Alastair Cook has been out in the middle for all but three hours of this test match. That’s almost four days straight in the Indian heat. What’s more, he still looks as fresh as a daisy.
England will probably still lose this test match. Unless Cook and Matt Prior can bat out the first session, and then the tail manage to hang around for another couple of hours, India should complete a hard earned and deserved victory.
However, at least England have shown some backbone – and proved that when it comes to facing orthodox spin, some of England’s batsmen do have the requisite skill and application.
Although England’s team selection in this game has been a disaster, and most of the batsmen have played like pelicans with brains the size of peas – yes, I’m talking to you Bell and Pietersen – we’ve at least showed some pride and great professionalism.
Cook and Prior have also shown that England cricketers can be versatile. Prior reined in his usual flamboyance and got his head down.
Whereas show-ponies try to excuse untimely dismissals by shrugging their shoulders and saying “that’s the way I play”, Prior did what true soldiers do: he dug in and played the situation brilliantly. He remains one of the best batsmen in the side – and indeed, one of the best players to watch in the world.