There’s something about India that brings the best out of England. Throwing the form book out of the window, Alastair Cook’s team continued their domination of the subcontinent giants with another solid all-round performance as the first Test ended in a draw on Sunday, thanks to a solid show by Virat Kohli (SCORECARD).
India came into the game on the back of nine defeats in their previous 13 Tests against England, and only a gutsy, unbeaten 49 from skipper Virat Kohli saved the hosts from embarrassment. (HIGHLIGHTS)
On the final day, England got only two sessions to have a go at the hosts, but their spinners made it hell for the home batsmen at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
Set an improbable target of 310 to chase in two sessions, India were 172 for six when the two captains shook hands in the 53rd over to end a gripping day’s play.
England’s late charge was set up by skipper Alastair Cook’s fifth hundred in India and his 180-run opening partnership with with debutant Haseeb Hameed (82).
INDIAN SPINNERS OUTSHONE
What was the toughest to digest for the home fans was the England spinners outperforming Ashwin and Co even when there was help from the pitch towards the end. Kohli, well supported by R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as they salvaged a draw, endured a torrid period against the spinners. Moeen Ali and Co rubbed it in, attacking with as many as six close-in fielders.
Leg-spinner Rashid Ali was the pick of the lot, adding three wickets on Sunday afternoon to his four in the first stint.
The SCA curator stood vindicated. Under scrutiny for the batting-friendly surface on the first four days, the game came alive on Sunday afternoon thanks to the England bowlers’ intelligent display.
KOHLI’S RESCUE ACT
Wickets were falling at the other end, and there was chatting with a ring of fielders around the bat, but Kohli was unfazed. The India skipper is one batsman in the team not affected by pressure, whatever the situation.
He came into the game with a 60-plus average in the second innings and enhanced his reputation with another fighting display. The only false shot was an attempt to hoick Adil Rashid over the infield, in the penultimate over. By then he had guided his team to safety and the fifty was there for the taking.
RAHANE & GAMBHIR
When India picked five specialist batsmen, they were banking on Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to come good with the bat. Kohli and coach Anil Kumble will be pleased with the lower-order’s show. The only concern will be opener Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane for the manner in which they got out. The England bowlers can claim they have the two under pressure going into the second Test, starting in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.
India were also let down by poor catching with five chances grassed in the England first innings.
COOK REGAINS FORM
To add to their morale-boosting first innings showing, where they had three centurions, England will be delighted with Cook running into form. His fifth century in India is the most by an overseas batsman. West Indies’ Everton Weekes and Clive Lloyd as well as South Africa’s Hashim Alma have four each. He amassed 500-plus in four games last time in 2012, and the signs are ominous for the Indian bowlers.
A number of faces have changed among the two teams. However, India’s struggles at Rajkot proved it will take a lot more effort for them to shake off the psychological scars inflicted by England in the last three series defeats.
It will be Cook’s men, and not the home team, who will enter the second Test with confidence.