India v England: Lessons learned as Alastair Cook stars on day two
India v England: Matt Cansick takes a look at the key talking points from day two of the third Test in Kolkata
Despite brief resistance in the morning session from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, England were able to take the last three wickets with relative ease, with Monty Panesar finishing with 4-90 in another impressive display. Eventually bowled out for 316, India were indebted to their captain as his knock of 52 took them to a respectable score, but the rest of the day belonged to England. Openers Alastair Cook and Nick Compton were untroubled as they built a partnership that reached 165 before Compton fell for 57 to the bowling of Ojha. This came just after Cook had completed his 23rd Test century, and he and Jonathan Trott (21 n.o.) reached the close of play without any cause for concern. Compton will be disappointed not to build on his maiden Test 50, but there appears to be a good deal of potential in this pairing at the top of the order. An overnight score of 216-1 will be all the more galling for India after Cook was dropped by Pujara off the bowling of Khan when still on 17.
Cook breaks record
The England Test records now list Alastair Cook as the leader in centuries made, and surely there are many more to come from the Essex left-hander. He has moved clear of Geoff Boycott, Colin Cowdrey and Wally Hammond, and his only current competition comes in the form of Kevin Pietersen, who is five years older. In 86 Test matches, Cook averages a shade over 50, and in compiling his record-breaking hundred he also became the youngest player to reach 7,000 Test runs. It was apt that he broke this record against an Indian side containing the previous holder, Sachin Tendulkar, and if he continues at the same rate then his statistics will be worthy of comparison with the great man himself. The next target will be Graham Gooch’s record of 8,900 Test runs, but of more immediate concern will be turning his unbeaten 136 in to what he and Gooch like to call a ‘daddy hundred’. With centuries in three consecutive Tests, he is rediscovering the form of the 2010/11 Ashes series in which he looked like he would not get out unless he made a mistake.
India need to respond
With England’s batsmen looking comfortable on a benign surface, India face a crucial third day. The series is now well and truly in the balance, and another three sessions of chasing leather could be the tipping point in this series. India’s bowlers need to step up and make things happen, as they are going to get very little, if anything, from the pitch. Pressure in the field is crucial, as a run-out could spark the rest of the team into life. If the bowlers are struggling to perform then limiting runs is the only way to unsettle the batsmen, but the problem India now face is that they are up against two batsmen in Cook and Trott, who rarely feel compelled to score. They will quite happily play out consecutive maidens if there are no runs to be had, so it will fall to Dhoni to be creative with his field. England were comprehensively outplayed in the first Test, and whilst it is unlikely that they will be in such a position again now that they have settled on an appropriate XI, India need to rediscover some of the ruthlessness that put them 1-0 up in the series.