The hosts again exposed the inadequacy of the Indian bowling attack, declaring on a staggering score of 710-7, after Cook and Morgan piled on the runs on the third day. Cook was finally dismissed for 294 after occupying the crease for an astonishing 12 hours, prompting Strauss to declare. This test match has been the tale of two talented openers, with one finding his form in the series with his best test score, and the other returning to test cricket with a king pair.
Cook continued to bat intelligently when play resumed, scoring a boundary off his first ball to third man. Praveen Kumar’s look of disgust, with his hands placed on his hips was becoming an all too familiar sight, present after a dismal effort on the boundary by Amit Mishra. Morgan soon brought up his fifty and made the Indians pay for their two dropped catches.
England’s vice-captain and reliable run machine brought up his second test double century with two runs away to long leg, as another painful day it the field loomed for the tourists. India were relieved when a mixture of rain and what the umpires deemed, bad light, caused delays in each session, rightfully booed by the capacity crowd.
However, this did not deter England’s batsmen, as Eoin Morgan recorded his second test century with a watchful knock, placing the ball in the gaps, with the occasional boundary. What’s notable from his batting in test matches, is he’s far more careful than in limited overs cricket, when he is constantly looking to manipulate the field and dominate the bowlers. Morgan looks to have cemented his place in the test side, proving how adaptable and mentally strong he is.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Ravi Bopara, who was dismissed for just seven, after being trapped lbw by Mishra. At the beginning of the summer he was competing for the number six spot with Morgan, who outscored him for the England Lions and today, with 104. Prior top edged his sweep shot, which was brilliantly caught by Tendulkar, as the Indians at least partly atoned for their dismal fielding display on day two.
Cook was still unmoved, registering another milestone: his highest test score, with unbelievable concentration without breaking sweat. Bresnan became the aggressor, smashing Sharma into the stands to record successive fifties and again show the value of a talented all-rounder. The maximum pushed England’s score past 700, for the first time since 1938. India placed all of their fielders on the boundary, which tempted Cook into his first loose stroke, as he cut directly to Suresh Raina, departing six runs short of a triple ton.
India were back on the ropes after the second ball of their second innings, as Sehwag was back in the pavilion with a king pair. Anderson enticed him into driving without moving his feet, and Strauss gleefully took the catch at first slip. Swann was introduced into the attack in the tenth over and as expected, looked threatening from ball one. His first ball just evaded Gambhir’s outside edge and the left hander should have been dismissed leg before, only for Steve Davis to turn down England’s deafening appeal. Pietersen bowled the final over, which caused Dravid problems due to huge turn and bounce from KP’s height.
Undoubtedly, India face a daunting challenge in saving the third test and clinging on to the number one test ranking. They failed to deal with England’s seamers in the first innings, coupled by cracks in the pitch, benefiting Swann and even Pietersen, a part-time offspinner. England’s attack have already caused more problems for the Indian batsmen in 12 overs, as India did in 188, reflecting the gulf between the two sides.