England's brave fightback eventually came to nothing in Ahmedabad as India reasserted their dominance of the opening Test by completing a nine-wicket win on the final day.
Following on, England managed to post 406 in their second innings and however creditworthy that was, it left India the simple task of knocking off 77 to win, which they achieved for the loss of Virender Sehwag's wicket.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who hit a double-century in India's first innings of 521 for eight declared proved his versatility by opening in the absence of Gautam Gambhir and guiding India to victory with 41 not out.
Alongside him was Virat Kohli on 14 as two of India's new guard confirmed a victory that puts them 1-0 up in the four-match series.
England began the last day with Alastair Cook and Matt Prior stone blocking everything, almost as if they hadn’t even gone off at stumps.
The overnight score was 340 for five in 128 overs and for nearly 10 overs, the Indian bowlers again toiled on a pitch that offered no amount of pace or turn to the bowlers. The wicket had changed much from the first day and it was revealed amply over the last two and a half days.
Just when things seemed immovable, Pragyan Ojha once again got the breakthrough, proving why he was the outstanding bowler in this Test match. Prior had made his way to 91, adding only seven runs to his individual tally, as he spooned a return catch back to the bowler.
It was a very soft dismissal, in complete contrast with the stoic defence he had put up for much of the fourth day. It allowed India a foot in and they couldn’t be stopped.
Three overs later, Ojha got one to keep low and jag back into Cook, and his stumps were broken. His mammoth innings lasting 556 minutes had finally come to an end, during which he scored 176 runs with 21 fours but more importantly faced 374 balls.
From thereon in, it was a matter of when and not if. Tim Bresnan (20) and Graeme Swann (17) were involved in a 28-run partnership to delay the inevitable but England’s last four wickets fell to India’s four main bowlers, representing how wholesome their attack has been on this docile pitch.
Ojha was once again the pick of the bowlers, finishing with four for 120, a haul of nine wickets in the match. Umesh Yadav (3-70) was the other bowler who hurt the visitors with his pace. Zaheer Khan was impressive with his reverse swing, taking two for 59 while Ravichandran Ashwin finished with one for 111.
England were bowled out for 406, after their first innings effort of 191. India’s first innings score of 521 for eight declared meant they had to chase 77 runs to go ahead in the series.
In the absence of Gambhir due to a family bereavement, Pujara was promoted to open the batting with Sehwag and the duo put on fifty runs on the board in quick time. India raced to the half-century mark in eight overs, showing how conducive to batting the pitch had become.
Sehwag (25) though couldn’t see out the match, holing out to Kevin Pietersen at long-on off Swann (1-46). Kohli (14) then took India home in 15.3 overs, with Pujara for company.
India’s new number three batsman was unbeaten on 41, taking his tally from the match to 247 runs without conceding his wicket to the English bowling. He was declared the man of the match for his fine effort.
The second Test of the series starts on Friday in Mumbai.
Alastair Cook on England’s efforts and what lies ahead: "We had good preparation. We have all our plans in place. Obviously we are disappointed that we couldn’t put them in place during the match but we will have to wait until they are executed properly in the middle.
"For sure, we have to look at selection. For this Test, we thought we had picked the best 11 to win us the game but it wasn’t the case. For Mumbai, we will see what changes we can make in order to take 20 Indian wickets."
On his batting effort, he said: "I can say technically it was my best innings, given the conditions and match situation. But we did lose the match, so I don’t think any comparison with Michael Atherton’s innings versus South Africa are fair. He saved the match for the team, I didn’t.
"In that way, I would say my 230-run innings against Australia at Brisbane was my best effort. We were able to draw that game and it was very important in the context of the series."
Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the Ahmedabad pitch and what he wants going ahead in the series: "I did not like this pitch. After the first two days, it was dead and had no bounce or turn. Neither the spin bowlers nor pace bowlers could do anything here.
"We had to work very hard in the second innings as compared to the first innings, so it is a good thing we had a good score on the board and ample time to bowl at them. I don’t want to see such a pitch going ahead. I would rather have a pitch that has consistent bounce till the third day atleast, even if it spins from session one on the first day. I want the toss to go out of equation."
© Cricket World 2012
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