Monday, June 24, 2024
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India trounce England by 9 wickets to take 1-0 lead

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Ahmedabad: India broke through the stubborn England resistance with a morning burst of five wickets before surging to a comprehensive nine-wicket victory in the opening cricket Test for a 1-0 lead in the four-match series here on Monday.

Needing 77 runs to record their first win at this venue in seven years on a crumbling and dusty pitch, India achieved the target when they made 80 for one in 16.3 overs after lunch.

Earlier, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha prised open the victory door for the hosts when he broke through England’s resolute batting by packing off overnight batsmen Matt Prior (91) and Alastair Cook (176) in 12 balls.

The two had kept England afloat on Sunday with a partnership that had helped the visitors avoid an innings defeat and had raised their hopes of even saving the game. The pair remained unconquered on Sunday with the visitors on 340 for five, an overall lead of 10 runs.

Ojha’s two for 18 burst in 11 overs was complemented by Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Zaheer Khan who grabbed a wicket each as England slumped from 356 for five to 406 all out in just over 16 overs and in 113 minutes of play this morning.

Ojha emerged as the most successful bowler from the game, with match figures of 9-165.

Pujara, who made an unbeaten 206 in the first essay and opened the innings in place of a bereaved Gautam Gambhir, was the most successful batsman for India and was named Man-of-the-Match.

The victory broke the seven-year winless run for India at this ground. The team had last won here in December 2005, Sri Lanka being the losing side.

This was also their fourth win here in 12 encounters and their fifth in the last six Tests played at home going back to last season’s triumphant series against the West Indies.

The next match is in Mumbai, which starts on November 23.

England’s first innings collapse for 191 against Ojha and Ashwin was the root cause of their massive defeat, though they fought back well through captain Alastair Cook who batted for a marathon 560 minutes spread over three days.

But once Ojha broke the partnership between Cook and Prior at 356, England’s resistance started dwindling and the captain’s dismissal virtually ended it.

Indian skipper MS Dhoni credited the bowlers for his team’s victory, saying the spinners put in a lot of hard work on a wicket that did not offer much turn.

“There was something in the wicket to start with but as the game progressed there was low bounce but not much turn. It was hard work for the spinners. They bowled 70-80 overs. So it was a fantastic effort from them,” Dhoni said.

“Even if you misjudged the flight you had time to adjust. Ojha bowled a tight line and took extra responsibility.”

The India skipper also had good things to say about man of the match Cheteshwar Pujara who scored an unbeaten double ton in the first innings and was not out at 41 in the second.

“It was a fantastic game for Pujara. He has the temperament to play big innings and has shown that on the domestic circuit. He makes sure he converts fifties to hundreds. Overall it was a fantastic effort by the team,” he said.

Cook lauded the fighting spirit of his team and vowed to come back stronger in Mumbai.

“We can look at a number of reasons why we didn’t win, our first innings was not good enough. But it was a great fightback in the second innings, we were in a tough situation and there was always a glimmer of hope, it had to be something special,” Cook said.

“It was a challenge, we knew me and (Matt) Prior needed to do majority of the work and there was inspiration at the beginning of the day. The guys showed a lot of character.”

Pujara said the wicket was easy to bat on.

“The ball was coming nicely onto the bat. There was turn, but it was slow. As a team we knew we had to put up 500-plus and I had to hang around to play my role. (PTI)

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