Alastair Cook, England cricket, England vs India, Graeme Swann, Ian Bell, James Anderson, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ryan Sidebottom, Sanya Michelangelo, Steven Finn
1st Test: 15-19 November
Brief scores: Ind 521/8 dec. Pujara 206*, Sehwag 117, Yuvraj 74; Swann 5, Anderson, Pietersen, Patel 1 each; Economy rates: Anderson 2.77, Swann 2.82, Patel 3.09, Pietersen 3.12, Bresnan 3.84, Broad 4.04
Eng 41-3 (18 overs) Cook 22*, KP 6*; Ashwin 2, Ojha 1
England vs India is usually exciting and the 1st Test at Ahmedabad is proving to be no different. Under Alastair Cook, England set out on a brand new mission - that of triumphing in India. England's record in India is not something to be proud of, but they have a better chance of winning this time. England were used to losing but their approach has been changing since Ashes 2005. The captaincy of Paul Collingwood has done them much good and they have cared more about winning in recent years. This is only his 3rd Test as captain but I believe Alastair Cook is a strong and stable person and he can replicate Collingwood. Ryan Sidebottom and James Anderson, who is still here, prospered by the faith showed by Collingwood and it seems Cook believes in his players as well. He is the one who played a big role in bringing Kevin Pietersen back for this series. KP must be raring to score big after his absence from England matches. India is also keen to win as they are seeing this as "revenge series". Their drubbing in England last year (Tests: England beat India 4-0; One-day: England beat India 3-0 in a 5 match series; Twenty20: England beat India 1-0) is fresh in their minds. Unfortunately, Suresh Raina, who commented he wants to give some pain back, is not playing.
The only England bowler who can be praised in this match is Graeme Swann. The man never fails to perform. He does what Trott does with the bat. Other England bowlers lacked lustre and clearly missed injured Steven Finn. As is often said, Nick Compton is tailor made for Test cricket and scored runs in the warm-up games as well. Cook and Compton looked like a solid pair and I won't blame Compton for getting out the way he did. Some deliveries are such that any batsman can be pardoned. James Anderson, who is the permanent nightwatchman for England, was sent in yet again, though he didn't last long this time. England always sends a nightwatchman in this situation nowadays but it definitely shouldn't be this way. I think a nightwatchman is sent when only a couple of overs are left and you can't afford to lose a wicket and perhaps to surprise the opposition, since they have plans for the big batsmen. But, this is a decision which should be taken on impulse. A nightwatchman is not always needed, like when you are trailing behind by 500 and can't let the opposition mentally dominate you. India celebrated the fall of three wickets today. And England were shaken up thrice. Now, when either side looks at the scoreboard, they'll see the wickets as three, not two, even though No.11s usually score less than 10.
Adressing the media after the play today, Samit Patel said Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell can smash big tons. I agree, these 3 are the key. Alastair Cook is most consistent, Kevin Pietersen can dominate and change the game on his own and Ian Bell has often succeeded in helping England to draw.