KOLKATA: Having dominated the third Test for the first two days, England further firmed their grip on day three, reaching 509 for 6 and taking a 193-runs lead, with Alastair Cook making yet another big century (190), while Jonathan Trott (87), Kevin Pietersen (54) and Matt Prior (40*) also playing their part.
The Indian bowling looked much better than what it was on day two, picking up five wickets in the day’s play, but it couldn’t stop the visitors from posting another huge total in this series. After getting the wickets of Ian Bell (5), Pietersen and Samit Patel (33) after tea, India thought of wrapping up tourists’ innings below 500, but an aggressive innings by Prior made sure the momentum stayed with England till the end of the day’s play.
India could not have found any other way to get Cook than by way of a run out.
The England captain was run out backing up when Pietersen (29*) whipped Zaheer Khan to square leg where Virat Kohli threw the ball at the non-striker’s end. Cook was about to ground his bat, but then got himself out of the way of the ball as it hit the stumps. The England captain fell ten short of his second double hundred of the series, but ensured his team take the lead, reaching 381 for 3 at tea.
Cook’s dismissal came after India got the wicket of Trott, who was caught behind off Pragyan Ojha. Sensing Pietersen vulnerability against left-arm spinners and his history against Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni brought him into the attack. And the ploy almost worked when Pietersen almost dragged a wide delivery onto his stumps. But the batsman, who is coming into this match after his match-winning 186 in the Mumbai Test, hit two boundaries off Yuvraj straight after.
If it was Cheteshwar Pujara who dropped a straight forward chance of Cook on Thursday, Ishant Sharma went a step ahead yesterday, dropping the simplest of catches of the England captain who seemed to be going on and on, bringing up yet another 150 plus score and taking his side to 296 for 1 at lunch, just 20 runs short of India’s first innings’ total of 316.
Trott, who had come into this game with consecutive ducks, continued to make the most of the start he had got on Thursday evening. The Warwickshire batsman, who had a lean series with the bat until this innings, played some exquisite drives on the front foot and was equally dismissive of anything bowled at his legs.
It seemed like India came out on day three with more profound thinking as their bowlers kept England in check in the first ten overs. But as he has shown often in this series, Cook waited to get his eye in before breaking the shackles with a drive through covers for a boundary off Ravichandran Ashwin.
Trott too picked Ashwin’s carrom ball with good effect and drove it through covers for his first four of the day. India took the new ball in the 89th over, but neither Khan nor Ishant Sharma could get the ball move in the air.
Cook brought up his 150 with a four punched on the back foot to the wide of mid-on off Zaheer. Trott was also gifted two half volleys at his pads by Zaheer and the batsman obliged by hitting two back-to-back boundaries to bring up his 50.
The wicket-taking opportunity of the morning came to India when Cook lobbed a return catch to Ishant who couldn’t hold onto the simplest of the chances.