Birmingham: Run machine Alastair Cook prevailed with his bound and determined knock of 294, agonisingly missing his triple ton on Day 3 of the Edgbaston Test between England and India.
Eion Morgan also played his part in the run feast with a well compiled maiden ton putting up 222-run partnership with Cook to punish the listless Indian bowling attack for the second day running.
England declared their innings late in the day at 710 for 7 with a massive lead of 486 against India.
India needed to survive eighteen overs but the prince of Najafgarh, Virender Sehwag earned a king pair. Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid were once again in the middle, the withered ‘Wall’ was asked to stand firm till the close of the day, and he obliged.
India finished the ‘Alastair Cook day’ at 35 for 1.
Alastair Cook was composure personified as he had chipped away milestones after milestones with each of his runs for a majority time on Day 3.
When on 286, he broke the record of highest individual score at Edgbaston earlier held by Peter May. When he had crossed 258, he put himself among the like of Len Hutton, Wally Hammond and Graham Gooch as the top ten highest individual scores in Tests for England.
He never looked like in trouble and rarely was he beaten. His stroke play oozed of confidence and his running between the wickets seeped of hunger.
He seemed not at all bothered about the gloomy Edgbaston conditions nor was he distracted by the fancy costumes of the crowds. He appeared to be selfishly self-centred for accumulating as many runs as possible. Even when he neared the 290 mark there was no sign of nerves, neither did he look edgy with milestones looming around.
But alas, Alastair batting at 294, in a rare moment of lapse in concentration reached for a wider one from Ishant to hit it in the air, Raina ran in from deep point to complete the catch; wish Dravid would have been there to drop it.
That marked the end of one of the best innings on English soil against India, probably the best after Grahman Gooch epic 333, way back in 1990.
The day had started rather ominously for India as the pacers failed to make any early inroads.
Though, throughout the day, Praveen Kumar once again bowled relentlessly failing to strike any timber as Ishant Sharma clearly was out of steam from the battering he got the previous day.
Amit Mishra’s lack of effectiveness early on day 3 saw Suresh Raina bowling more overs than the leggie, though Mishra came back well late in the day to scalp two quick wickets.
Apart from Cook’s mammoth effort and Morgan’s enterprising ton, rain and power failure were probably the only worthwhile things that happened on Day 3.
With just three overs bowled in the day, play was stopped owing to slight drizzle which turned out to be just passing showers.
It seemed that the rain gods would finally intervene to put India out of the misery but it was not to be so as the game resumed after fifteen minutes.
Alastair cook was the epitome of concentration and he calmly went about his business of mounting up runs as he widened the gap of highest run-getter in Test in 2011.
It did not take Morgan and Cook much time to rack up the ninth century stand of the series for England as opposed to India‘s just one.
It was evident from the batting display that Morgan was enjoying his time in the middle and was given an open field (read as defensive field set) to score freely.
The duo started off rather cautiously trying to get their eye in and in the process waiting for the bowlers to lose their morning steam.
Just before another rain disruption which forced umpires to take an early lunch, Cook reached his double century in the 127th over with a leg side flick for two runs off Sreesanth. He raised his bat, took out the helmet, he did not grin, he did not smile, just a determined look before taking guard once again.
Two overs later they reached the 500-run mark.
After lunch, it seemed like England batsmen were facing a bunch of amateurs as Eion Morgan from being enterprising in his first half of the century decided to display his defensive prowess in the later half.
Dhoni persisted with Raina for over twenty overs and he did yield with the wicket of Morgan and tell you what he has been the best spinner for India so far in the series.
Morgan’s wicket came after India had bowled 45 overs in the day and his wicket lead to the downfall of Ravi Bopara and Matt Prior, both wickets taken by Amit Mishra. Mishra finally doing a tad better than Raina and far better than Harbhajan Singh.
But there was no respite for India as Tim Bresnan (53*) who is having a real ball with the bat as well swung his willow around at will to reach his second consecutive fifty. And mind you, he was not just swinging his bat around but he played solidly with proper cricketing shots.
Day 3 all over again ended with India being a distant second to not only England but to Alastair Cook as well. A rout seems inevitable for India, but for a change it could be by an innings. India have been blamed too much for being incompetent and various reasons have been dished out, but it’s time to praise the English feat wholeheartedly. The only rationale behind a dismal India showing is the far superior exploits by the hosts.