India v England, 1st Test, Nagpur, Day Five

(Day one comments | Day two | Day three | Day four)

England 393 and 297 for 3 (Cook 104*, Collingwood 36*) lead India 323 (Kaif 91, Hoggard 6-57) by 367 runs

Who can believe it? England are on top. Alastair Cook, a debutant, is unbeaten on 104. Truly a funny game, this cricket thing. Shall attempt to get up even earlier tomorrow, although I’m expecting a draw. Chat away!

Alastair Cook’s maiden Test century

If he showed a glimpse of his class in the first innings, Alastair Cook proved it today with an innings of remarkable composure, restraint and maturity to give England a genuine chance of forcing the most unlikely of victories on the final day. First came Marcus Trescothick as England’s fresh-faced left-handed opener. Then Andrew Strauss, albeit in fortuitous selectorial circumstances. England have unearthed a third who, on the basis of one innings at Nagpur, could be better than both.

The prophets of doom, myself included, predicted nothing less than a 3-0 drubbing by India before the Test started; Michael Vaughan’s wonky knee, Trescothick’s undisclosed problems and a swathe of injuries afflicted England. Not even the most optimistic observer could have forseen the situation England find themselves in after four days.

He joins Andrew Strauss, with whom he opened in this Test, to make a fifty and a hundred on debut. Michael Clarke was the last to do it for Australia; Virender Sehwag for India; Scott Styris for New Zealand and Dwayne Smith for the West Indies. In fact, Smith’s highest score since that hundred against South Africa is 42. Against the might of Bangladesh. So it’s not a certainty that debutant centurions should forge a successful Test career but – and I’m willing to eat my hat, if I have one left, should this not be true – Cook showed he has more than enough ability and determination to succeed at Test level.

Against a true master of legspin, Anil Kumble, he was calm and in control, deftly back-cutting and waiting for a bad ball. Against Kumble’s partner in crime, Harbhajan Singh, he was flustered but was patient enough, and disconcertingly mature, to realise that eventually a bad ball would come. Singh, like his team-mates, didn’t have a day to remember – nor was lady luck smiling on them, or even grimacing. However this was Cook’s first outing at this level, and he coped with absolutely everything. Strauss’s debut against the West Indies in 2004 was one to remember, undoubtedly, but Cook’s magical knock today was technically superior and all the more astonishing given his late arrival; it was made in the second innings, too.

If England win this Test – and there’s an awful lot more work to do – it must surely be regarded as one of the best in recent times, given their pre-series disasters. If anything, it proves one thing: never write a team off, and left-handers have a bloody easy time of it :)

India v England, 1st Test, Nagpur, Day Three

(Day one comments | Day two)

Interesting day, yesterday. England fought their way to 400 (falling just short) and, thanks to the lower-order supporting him, Paul Collingwood hit a fine first century. He’s not Bradman, but he does have a lot of guts.

So India trail by 257 runs. At stumps yesterday, Rahul Dravid (40*) and Wasim Jaffer (73*) were batting quite serenely – but they still trail, and won’t be sleeping too easily. Were it not for Collingwood’s century, England would be in a mess right now. And while his knock has helped balance the scales somewhat, the ball is in India’s court. It could be a long day for the fielders.

Chat away, chaps.

India v England, 1st Test, Nagpur, Day Two

(Day one comments)

Despite Chris’ Burnt Bail comments that it’s a “nothing sort of score”, I think 246 for 7 is way below the mark. I suppose, given England’s farcical preparations, it’s about as good as they could expect. India, however, must be sitting pretty happy – especially given the ironing board-flat pitch. My Indian colleages at Cricinfo must be laughing their backsides off by now. Anyway, it’s day two – so by the time I wake from my pit, I expect to see a flurry of comments to keep me up-to-date! Chat away like the cricket-starved wallies you are.

India v England, 1st Test, Nagpur, Day One

I’m posting this in advance, just – well because. England are in a bit of a mess; India less so. Chat away!

Not long to go

Eeh by gum, it’s not long ’til the first Test. Just having an interlude from the drinking and merriment to put up a post which should appear about 3am, if any of you lot wish to chat among yourselves. I’ll try to catch the highlights…

Preview over at the other blog.

England’s tour dates for India 2006

The BCCI are acting like only the BCCI can, but today they’ve been poked into life and have announced, at the last minute, the tour schedule for England’s tour there in March 2006. More at Cricinfo:

First Test: March 8, Ahmedabad
Second Test: March 16, Nagpur
Third Test: March 25, Mumbai