Cook, Morgan tighten screws

Cook, Morgan tighten screws

Openers 294 gives England 486-run lead; another first-ball duck for Sehwag

Cook, Morgan tighten screws

At close on the third day of the third Test here at Edgbaston, India were staring at another embarrassing defeat after struggling to 35 for the loss of Virender Sehwag for another golden duck. Rahul Dravid and Gautam Gambhir, who survived a close shout for leg before wicket off Graeme Swann, were holding fort for India. The visitors have an Everest to scale down -- 486 runs just to make England bat again. The hosts, overnight 456/3, declared their innings at a giant 710 for seven, the moment Alstair Cook fell after bringing up a monumental 294 (545b, 33x4).

India, all out for 224 on the opening day, haven’t even once managed a score of 300 in this series with their highest total so far being 288 all out. Cook alone has scored more than India’s best innings total and spent much more time -- 767 minutes -- than the entire Indian team (271 minutes) in the first innings.

There were periods of hope for the visitors when play was stopped twice in the morning session due to drizzle. And then there was a bit of a drama when umpires Simon Taufel and Steve Davis twice stopped play citing poor light; first in the post-lunch session when MS Dhoni brought back Ishant Sharma into attack and then in the last session when the Australian duo again deemed light wasn’t fit enough to continue play.

All these stoppages, amounting to just over an hour, may not count for much though. It was also quite bizarre to see umpires leading the players out though the floodlights, which were not working earlier due power outage, were very much on the second time around.

Two dropped catches of Eoin Morgan (104, 199b, 11x4) on Thursday came back to haunt India with the left-hander producing only his second Test hundred. The Irishman couldn’t go past his previous best of 130, but his partner Cook bettered his previous highest score of 235 not out against Australia last year. The tall batsman brought up the second highest individual score against India by an English batsman when he touched 247, going past Geoff Boycott’s 246 but stayed some distance away from his mentor Graham Gooch’s 333 in 1990 at Lord’s.

Cook batted in the same fashion as he did on Thursday morning, playing himself in though the Indian seamers looked far less effective on the third day. Praveen Kumar continued to swing the ball and Ishant Sharma came up with an odd surprise delivery but that wasn’t enough to shake off the two left-handed batsmen.

Cook, overnight 182, played on the patience of the Indian bowlers as their efforts to break the association remained elusive. That part-timer Suresh Raina had to bowl 28 overs was an indication of India’s bowling woes. Between three pacemen -- Praveen, Ishant and S Sreesanth – the trio bowled just 37.1 overs out of the 73.1 bowled by India.

If the 26-year-old was circumspect on the second day, he was extra cautious on the third morning. He scored just three boundaries till the tea break and the first two came 135 balls apart each other. But that is not to suggest he was drying up runs at one end.

Where Morgan collected runs through boundaries, Cook did so with singles, twos and sometimes threes. The Gloucester batsman, in fact, outscored his partner in the 140 runs they brought up together on the day. Overall, the duo added 222 runs for the fourth wicket before Morgan fell to Raina. The damage though had been done, irreparably perhaps.

Indians found more success when they removed three batsmen in the space of 22 balls, but Tim Bresnan (53, 75b, 6x4, 1x6) struck his second successive half-century to pile on India’s miseries. With close to 500 runs in the safety, England were just waiting for Cook to complete his maiden 300, which didn’t materialise.

INDIA (I Innings): 224 all out
ENGLAND (I Innings, O/n: 456/3):
Strauss b Mishra    87
(231m, 176b, 13x4)
Cook c Raina b Ishant    294
(767m, 545b, 33x4)
Bell b Praveen    34
(67m, 43b, 6x4)
Pietersen lbw Praveen    63
(105m, 78b, 9x4, 1x6)
Morgan c Sehwag b Raina    104
(247m, 199b, 11x4)
Bopara lbw Mishra    7
(11m, 15b, 1x4)
Prior c Tendulkar b Mishra    5
(9m, 11b)
Bresnan (not out)    53
(96m, 75b, 6x4, 1x6)
Extras (B-11, LB-34, W-3, NB-15)    63
Total (for 7 wkts decl, 188.1 overs)    710
Fall of wickets: 1-186 (Strauss), 2-252 (Bell), 3-374 (Pietersen), 4-596 (Morgan), 5-605 (Bopara), 6-613 (Prior), 7-710 (Cook).
Bowling: Praveen 40-13-98-2 (w-1), Sreesanth 36-4-158-0 (nb-4), Ishant 37.1-1-7-159-1 (w-2), Mishra 43-2-150-3 (nb-11), Raina 28-1-83-1, Tendulkar 4-0-17-0.
INDIA (II Innings):
Gambhir (batting)    14
(56m, 41b, 2x4)
Sehwag c Strauss b Anderson    0
(1m, 1b)
Dravid (batting)    18
(49m, 30b, 3x4)
Extras (LB-1, W-2)    3
Total (for 1 wkt, 12 overs)    35
Fall of wicket: 1-3 (Sehwag).
Bowling: Anderson 5-1-18-1, Broad 2-0-7-0 (w-2), Brasnan 3-0-4-0, Swann 1-0-4-0, Pietersen 1-0-1-0.