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IND vs ENG 3rd Test – Day 1: Ballance, Cook Star For England On Day 1

By on July 28, 2014

England 247 for 2 (Cook 95, Ballance 104*) vs India…

At Lord’s Gary Ballance saved England the blushes in the first innings, while at Southampton he was measured in his captain’s company.

With sheer grit and a bit of luck, Alastair Cook ended his wretched run of 10 innings without a fifty, and more importantly, nearly 27 innings without a Test century as his 95 laid a solid foundation for England on the opening day of the third Test against India at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

IND vs ENG 3rd Test - Day 1: Gary BallanceTheir best opening stand of the series (58), and the consequential 158-run second wicket stand between the England captain and Gary Ballance, who struck his third century in six Test matches – two in two ever since posing topless at a bar in London – made India work hard as they finished the day on 247 for 2. Ballance was unbeaten on 104 while Ian Bell was batting on 16.

After taking a 1-0 lead with a 95-run victory in the second Test at Lord’s, India’s bowlers had little luck to begin with, as after Ishant Sharma was ruled out of the match on the morning of the Test, they kept beating the bat with the ball failing to find the edge too often.

Pankaj Singh, the 282nd man to play Test cricket for India, impressed on debut and should have had Cook for 15, only for Ravindra Jadeja to spill a simple chance at third slip.

His misfortune continued when he seemed to have trapped Ian Bell plumb in front in the first over with the second new ball, only for the umpire to rule it otherwise.

Pankaj produced a delivery too good for Bell as the ball pitched on leg stump and straightened, striking the batsman on middle stump. It was a ball that proved too good even for the umpire.

The only bit of fortune India had was when Cook managed a faint tickle down the leg side off Jadeja to MS Dhoni five short of a century, but by then the England captain had seen off a commanding first day.

With Stuart Broad scheduled to come in at No 10, England have plenty of batting strength to extend their advantage on the second day.

Even as Cook – unbeaten on 82 at tea – became cautious in the final session, Ballance grew in confidence. He was beaten repeatedly by India’s seamers but remained unfazed.

At Lord’s he saved England the blushes in the first innings, while at Southampton he was measured in his captain’s company. Ballance rode his share of luck too – replays after a stifled appeal for caught behind off Mohammed Shami on 10 showed there was a faint nick.

Like Stuart Binny, who could have had his first Test wicket at Lord’s only for Ballance’s outside edge to fly between Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan at first slip, Pankaj toiled but without result.

He bowled better than his 0 for 62 would suggest, as did Mohammed Shami, who on another day would have ended with figures better than 1 for 62 from his 18 overs. India, however, wouldn’t mind England being 247 for 2. Despite helpful conditions, they couldn’t score at a dominating pace.

Cook grew in confidence throughout the second session. Resuming the session on 48, Cook quickly raised his half-century with a pull to square leg and looked more assured in his footwork.

Against Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Cook began with a stance outside the batting crease, and made a pronounced movement in front to counter the swing, a far cry from the way he was batting in the previous innings.

Cook earlier won an important toss on a batting friendly Ageas Bowl wicket and gritted it out in the morning session. After being dropped by Jadeja and after surviving a shy at the stumps which could have found him short on 68, India would be cursing themselves for letting the under-fire England captain off the hook twice.

Cook went on to stitch together an important innings of 95, an innings he’ll look back with more fondness than many of his 25 hundreds.

Source: gocricket

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