Unbeatable Cook leads England fightback on Day 4

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , ,

England tour of India
1st Test: 15-19 November
Day 4
Brief scores: Ind 521/8 dec. Pujara 206*, Sehwag 117, Yuvraj 74; Swann 5, Anderson, Pietersen, Patel 1 each; Economy rates: Anderson 2.77, Swann 2.82, Patel 3.09, Pietersen 3.12, Bresnan 3.84, Broad 4.04
Eng 191 Prior 48, Cook  41; Ojha 5, Ashwin 3
Eng 340/5 Cook 168* Prior 84*; Yadav 2, Ojha 2
Alastair Cook is trying to ensure this series is not a re-run of previous England tours to India. Showing utmost strength and patience, he led the England fightback on Day 4 as a captain leading from the front. Scoring hundreds in both of his previous Tests as captain as well as today, he becomes the only captain to score a century in first three Tests.

Some of the best Test matches are those which are drawn by fighting back from a terrible position. England has been featured in its fair share of such matches. In these games, the lower order and keeper Prior have stepped up to the plate, Cook has been a run machine for the past 3 years, Collingwood played his part when he was there, Jonathan Trott scored runs consistently from the start of his career (Aug '09) till the end of last year but Kevin Pietersen has failed when it has mattered the most. How does his batting average matter then? Your best players are those who win and save the most matches for you, who can handle pressure when it matters most.

The game at Chennai in '08 is an unforgettable one. Kevin Pietersen was England's captain back then, and he set India a target of 387, declaring at 311/9 with 29 overs to go on Day 4. Sehwag made this feat easy, not only achievable with 83 from 68. Sure, the following batsmen had some work on their hands but with such a flashy start, there can be no lack of confidence. Players like Jonathan Trott mostly care about their personal performance, but they are valuable because they care too much about it. There is no doubt about Kevin Pietersen's ability to demolish a team on his own or to be one of the most entertaining but to be a valuable asset in Test cricket, he needs to bat better when it matters. And not just score 40 something, but save the game like Cook and Prior are doing in this Test. Test matches are games of big runs. At least in one of the innings, the team must score 400+ to win or to draw. And this task is for the main batsmen, the middle order.

Coming back to today's play, Nick Compton played 128 deliveries but scored only 37. This is something to be worked upon. There isn't much use of surviving so many deliveries if you aren't scoring many runs. All his hard work didn't account to much considering England must score 500+ to save the match and 37 doesn't make a big part of that. Cook was unbeatable, he was unshakeable. The good thing is that he not only scores runs consistently but also scores big. His early centuries were between 104 and 127 but he now has scores such as 235* (vs Australia), 189 (vs Australia), 294 (vs India) and currently standing tall at 168* against India. Cook now has 21 centuries under his belt, which means he is only behind three Englishmen who have scored 22 tons each. He'll turn 28 next month and taking his career into account, it is unlikely that the ECB will drop him over a tiff. He probably has many more years of cricket left in him, so it is most likely he'll register his name in the list of top run getters and century makers in world cricket. English cricket is being taken to newer heights. Now England have a World Twenty20 championship in their kitty, Ashes '05, '09 and '10, Alastair Cook will probably become the first Englishman to reach 10,000 Test runs. The only feats remaining are the World Cup and a 400-wicket taker.

After the solid fightback from Cook and Prior, England should be able to save the game from here. I mean, it's still a tough task but it'd be disheartening to see England lose from here. Swann, Broad and Bresnan are pretty much all-rounders so I believe England will come through. That will give England the perfect start to the series. Though Bell is heading home for the birth of his child and Tim Bresnan needs to be replaced with Steven Finn or Monty Panesar so England will have some selection to do.

Catch the action live at 9:30 local time (4 am GMT). See you soon with hopefully some good news. Cheers.