Gutsy England grab lead

December 08, 2012 - 1:17:09 am

England batsmen Matt Prior (left) and Graeme Swann leave the field at the end of play on the third day of the third Test at Eden Gardens in Kolkata yesterday. England ended the day 509 for six wickets, a lead of 193 runs over hosts India.

KOLKATA: England skipper Alastair Cook missed out on a deserving double century as the visitors hurtled towards a decisive first innings lead on day three of the third cricket Test against India at the Eden Gardens here yesterday.

At 509/6, and 193 runs ahead of the Indians, England seem to be in a position where they cannot lose the match, while the hosts need to gear up for a grim fight for survival. 

With the four-match series now locked at 1-1, the winner at Eden Gardens will take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series.

Matt Prior (40) and Graeme Swann (21), who so far have stitched together 56 runs, were at the crease at the close of play.

Cook (190) fell 10 short of his third double hundred when he was run out for the first time in Tests, and that too in a bizarre manner. 

The left hander took evasive action and the ball hit the stumps while he still was away from the crease. The incident brought some cheers for the home crowd who had nothing much to applause till the dismissal.

Buoyed by the return of Cook - the highest run getter in the series so far - the Indians bowled well and tasted success, taking three English wickets.

Ian Bell (5) edged Ishant Sharma behind the wicket, Mumbai Test Man of the Match Kevin Pietersen (54) was trapped in front by offie Ravichandran Ashwin after completing a half century, while Virender Sehwag juggled before latching on to a thick edge offered by Samit Patel (33) off Pragyan Ojha.

Ojha (3/140) was the most successful Indian bowler while Sharma and Ashwin chipped in with a wicket each. 

Earlier, resuming at 216/1 overnight, Cook and Jonathan Trott (87) went from strength to strength crossing personal milestones. 

They remained together in the morning session as England reached 296/1 at lunch.

Cook notched up his 150 in the 89th over as England went past 250 runs. 

Trott hit consecutive fours off pacer Zaheer Khan on way to completing his 13th Test 50 in 63 innings. 

Luck smiled on Cook - then on 156 - when he lobbed a simple catch back to bowler Sharma, who could not hold on to the opportunity. 

This was the second reprieve for the southpaw as he was dropped at first slip by Cheteswar Pujara on 17.

Dhoni took the second new ball in the 89th over but the Indian bowlers tasted success only in the 120th when Ojha had Trott caught behind. 

Cook and Trott put on a 173-run partnership for the second wicket - the second century-plus stand of the innings after the 165-run stand between the England captain and fellow opener Nick Compton.

Cook, however, continued to grind runs, while hitting the occasional boundaries, and even clobbered Ashwin for a six down the ground demonstrating England’s urgency to step up the scoring rate.

With the wear and tear on the pitch evident, Dhoni started the post lunch session with his spin duo of Ojha and Ashwin who immediately settled into a good rhythm troubling the batsmen as the wicket afforded turn.

Meanwhile, an unfazed Cook went past 500 runs in the series, only the third batsman from his country to do so in a series in India after Ken Barrington and Mike Gatting.

With Indians showing positive intent, they were immediately rewarded with some good fortune with Cook departing just 10 short of a double century.

Along with West Indian great Vivian Richards and India opener Sehwag, Cook is one of the three batsmen to get out for scores in the 290s, 190s and 90s in Tests. IANS

Coach asks Watson to bat at number four

SYDNEY: Shane Watson  said yesterday he will be given the first chance to fill the vacancy in Australia’s batting order left by Ricky Ponting’s retirement and bat at number four in next week’s first Test against Sri Lanka.
Recalled Phillip Hughes is expected to bat at first drop in a re-jigged Australian top order for the Hobart Test, starting next Friday.
On the same day skipper Michael Clarke, speaking to reporters in Sydney, suggested the Test batting line-up was still undecided, vice-captain Watson confirmed in Brisbane that he would drop down one spot to number four in the Australian order.
“(Coach) Mickey Arthur talked to me at the end of the last Test to say the way it was looking, they were going to move me down to four,” Watson told reporters.
“It’s taken me a few days to get my head around that, but it means I can bowl a few more overs.
“In the last Test match, I know Michael (Clarke) in the second innings was a bit hesitant to bowl me a few times towards the latter part of their innings, just to give me the chance to be as fresh as I could going into bat.
“The ultimate is to be able to contribute with both bat and ball throughout the whole Test match and not be held back. Batting at four will give me that extra time to freshen up.”
In contrast, Clarke said the top order had yet to be finalised and that he was open to a move up the order. 
“I’ll speak to Mickey Arthur about that when we get into camp in Hobart,” Clarke said.
“As for where I bat, the number I bat doesn’t bother me. It’s about fitting in with what’s best for the team.”
Hard-hitting batsman David Warner, one of four openers in Australia’s new-look top six, said moving Watson to number four would be the optimal outcome for the Test side.
“As Shane said, (it would be great) if we can get the most out of him bowling. It’s going to be fantastic for him to get that little extra rest,” Warner said.
“Me and Ed (Cowan) are in a good space at the moment. They’ve told us where we’re at,” the 26-year-old added when asked whether Arthur had assured him Australia’s opening partnership won’t change.
“We always look forward to batting with each other, and we’re playing down in Hobart which is Ed’s home ground.” REUTERS