India win first Test by nine wickets

2012-11-20 00:00

AHMEDABAD — India made light of Alastair Cook’s resistance to beat England by nine wickets after dominating day five of the first Test in Ahmedabad yesterday.

The home side finally cleaned up the second innings for 406, with Pragyan Ojha accounting for Matt Prior on 91 and Cook for 176.

Cook had batted for over nine hours to edge England into a lead, but India needed less than an hour to knock off the target of 77 after lunch.

Cheteshwar Pujara, star of India’s first innings with an unbeaten 206, was 41 not out in the second innings to cement his man-of-the-match performance.

The hosts take a 1-0 lead into the second Test, which begins on Friday in Mumbai.

England had recovered on day four from an abject position in the game to merely a poor one, but still had plenty to do on day five if they were to escape with a draw.

And with the ball misbehaving more on day five, particularly for the spinners, England were unable to score with pace or fluency.

Prior was denied a deserved century — having blocked Ojha stoically all morning; he was early to a ball which held up in the pitch and spooned a tame return catch to the bowler.

Four overs later, it was the captain’s turn to exit. Cook faced 374 balls over the course of nine hours, spanning three days, in his marathon second-innings effort, but could do nothing to keep out a ball from Ojha that both kept low and turned back in.

Stuart Broad (three) offered a return catch to Umesh Yadav via a leading edge, while Graeme Swann (17) reverse-swept with cavalier abandon until he missed one and handed Ravichandran Ashwin his first wicket of the innings.

Zaheer Khan wrapped up the innings, with substitute fielder Ajinkya Rahane pouching a low catch offered by Tim Bresnan (20) in the covers.

The total was meagre, never likely to trouble India, but the chase was all too easy.

Spinner Swann was used to open the bowling, but each of his first three overs cost nine runs.

Samit Patel, thrown in after a couple of docile overs from James Anderson, served up a waist-high full toss which Virender Sehwag dismissed for six.

It was a disheartening finish, with only Sehwag perishing, deftly caught by Kevin Pietersen at long on off the bowling of Swann.

By the time Virat Kohli hit the winning runs, Ian Bell had already left the ground for a flight home to attend the birth of his child. He will miss the second Test — and the focus will turn to whether he is only the first of several changes England must make to be more competitive in Mumbai.

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