Ahmedabad: As India chased victory and England battled for a draw, many magical moments came our way throughout Day 5 of the first Test match between India and England.
Cautious England, desperate India
Alastair Cook and Matt Prior begin their partnership on Day 5 at 141*. All was looking hunky dory for the visitors to start with. The only factor against them probably was their scoring rate. Meanwhile Zaheer Khan was toiling hard for India and bowled probing lines and lengths to the pair. England skipper and wicket-keeper although seemed calm on the crease, scored only 16 runs in the nine-odd overs they were at the crease together on Day 5.
It is that man again
Many might have believed that R Ashwin would be the pick of the bowlers for India but Pragyan Ojha is rising up the ladder quite unnoticingly. Very classical in his approach, the left-armer was pedestrian on occasions but always in the hunt. He has looked leaner and meaner this time around and may be that has begun to pay further dividends.
On Day 5, Ojha had one ridiculous appeal against Matt Prior but apart from that was bowling way too full and straight to Cook. The Day 5 pitch had rough marks on the sides and was getting lower as was to be proven soon. Sachin Tendulkar had a chat with the youngster and it brought results pretty quickly. Ojha started landing the ball a tad bit shorter and one stopped on Prior, who was approaching a century. The caught and bowled was not without drama though as a bird flew past immediately and those seeing on television must have felt that the catch was dropped. No real drama though as Ojha straight away ran to hug none other than the 'Master Blaster'. The plan had worked may be.
Nine runs later, Cook had just defended a ball off the backfoot and Dhoni removed the backward-point. Possibly a tactical decision but what was to follow made it a masterstroke. Cook stayed back again to a shortish Ojha delivery trying to work it away for a single and this time the ball never got up. India had got their man on 176 but effectively England were 35/7.
India sniff it and go for it
By now, India were all over England with the crowd too backing the players in grand style. They had got the main men from the opposition and victory was within touching distance. Team India still had to contend with Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan. Broad, against India, had scored as much as VVS Laxman did on the England tour, 182 runs but at thrice the average. Tim Bresnan has scored 154 runs against India on that disastrous tour, more that what Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina had managed then.
Cut to Day 5 of Ahmedabad Test, India could not get complacent now. And thankfully, they did not. The young quickie, Umesh Yadav, was impressive in the first innings and continued that in the second one too. He got Broad out, again the ball stopping a bit and a simple return catch was the result.
Go for it Swanny!
Bresnan was batting decently at one end and the ever enterprising Graeme Swann joined hands to thwart the Indian attack as much as possible. As is the case generally, Swann was not going to die wondering. He batted out of the crease, hit slog sweep, reverse sweeps, switch-hits and poof! He was a gonna! A reverse sweep had fetched him four off R Ashwin but a switch-hit went way too far. Ashwin followed the tried and tested formula. You miss, I hit!
And the quest for a revenge starts
Zaheer Khan, deservedly so, got the last wicket that of Tim Bresnan. His form will be crucial for India's chances and if the second innings is anything to go by, all seems good.
There was not too much drama after this. Gautam Gambhir had obviously not made it for the match and so, Cheteshwar Pujara went in to open with Virender Sehwag as India chased 77 runs. Sehwag, in typical fashion, hit out as soon as he sensed the presence of spinners around. And very typically, he lived by the sword and died by it. Not that it mattered today but in larger context it could hurt him.
Pujara on the other hand, was as confident and assured on the crease as one could be. He hit genuine shots and at one point looked to outpace Viru. May be the Najafgarh warrior needs to take a leaf out of his book.
And then the other youngster, who would have been itching to get out after the first innings disappointment, Virat Kohli, completed the formalities in style.
It is yet not over
A special mention at the end to Pragyan Ojha and Stuart Broad. When Broad had got out to Yadav in the 2nd innings and tapped his bat smack in the middle of the pitch, Ojha was seen making animated gestures to the Englishman. In a way, it was nice to see some aggression from the Indian spinner. Remember, Broad was all over the Indians when India toured them in 2011. When the match got over and teams were engaging in the customary handshake though, Ojha and Broad 'buried the hatchet'. India 1, England 0!