Cook, Prior keep England hopes alive

Ahmedabad, Nov 18 (IANS) A brilliant 141−run partnership between skipper Alistair Cook and Matt Prior helped England wipe out the deficit and score 340 for five at the end of play on the fourth day of the first cricket Test at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, here Sunday.

Cook (batting 168) and Prior (batting 84) led England's fightback as the visitors took a 10−run lead.

England looked headed for an innings defeat when the pair met with the score on 199 for five. Both batted patiently, managing to negate any threat from India's spin twin Pragyan Ojha (2/102) and Ravichandran Ashwin (0/104) −− the later going wicketless in the day.

The pitch slowed down further with the ball taking very slow turn and giving the batsmen ample opportunity to play late.

Ashwin was not patient enough and tried too hard to get a wicket −− though the lanky spinner bowled in good areas, beating the bat on more than one occasion.

The visitors lost Ian Bell (22) and Samit Patel (0) in post−lunch session, both departing on successive balls off speedster Umesh Yadav (2/60).

Following−on after India had bowled them out for 191 in the first innings, England put on a much better show in the second.

Pragyan Ojha (2/102) and Zaheer Khan (1/38) struck for India in the morning session.

England, who resumed the day at 111 for none, lost Nick Compton (37), Jonathan Trott (17) and Kevin Pietersen (2).

Compton was the first to go, adding only five more runs to his overnight score. Zaheer took his second wicket of the match and his first in the second innings, trapping the 29−year−old plumb in front of the wicket.

Trott was coaxed by an Ojha ball that spun viciously and bounced and was caught behind by India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Pietersen's woeful form against the spinners continued as he once again fell to the guile of Ojha.

Pietersen walked too far across the stumps and tried to sweep a full ball only to be castled.

Ojha continued his dream run in the Test taking his wicket−tally to seven in the match even as Ashwin failed to make an impact.

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