Bowled Over – India Strike First – By Luqman Liaqat

India struck first blood in the four-test match series after wrapping up an emphatic nine wicket win in Ahmedabad.

The hero was rising batsman Cheshawar Pujara who was a class apart from the England middle order claiming man of the match.

Virender Sehwag welcomed England by laying the platform for India with a blistering century as they made the most of winning the toss and opting to bat on the opening day.

Sehwag and Ghautam Ghambir put on an opening stand of 134 inside 29.5 overs leaving the England bowling department wicketless.

Graeme Swann finally made the breakthrough for England by bowling out Ghambir but this did not stop Sehwag from playing his shots, as he brought up his 23rd Test hundred. After reaching his century he was removed by Swann when he misjudged a sweep and was bowled around his legs. India however continued to attack and ended day one on 323-4.

England’s seam bowlers on the whole had two miserable opening days, but finally in the 158th over James Anderson had his first wicked when he dismissed Zaheer Khan.

But Pujara continued his marathon batting display reaching the 200 mark from 380 balls, tiring the limbs of the English bowlers as Dhoni quickly decided to declare on 523-8.

England slumped to 41-3 as they started a response to India’s daunting total as debutant Nick Compton lost his wicket to Ravichandaran Ashwin who opened the bowling for the hosts, Pragyan Ojha removed Night-watchman Anderson for two soon after.

Jonathan Trott completed the agony for England when he fell for duck caught at short leg by double centurion Pujara.

England resumed on 41-3 on day three, but Kevin Pieterson’s nightmare against left arm spin continued when he was bowled around the legs by Praghyan Ojha for 17. In the next ball, Ojha struck again, Bell held out to Sachin Tendulkar at mid-off.

Cook battled his way to 41, when he edged a full delivery from Ravi Ashwin straight to Virender Sehwag at slip.

After England continued on 110-7, Matt Prior scored 48 with some support from Stuart Broad who scored a handy 25. But, Ojha claimed his fourth five-wicket haul in Tests polishing England off for 191, as India put England back in.

Alastair Cook and Nick Compton put on a solid opening partnership for England in their second innings leaving them 111-0 at the end of day three.

Nick Compton added three runs to his 34 from overnight; Zaheer Khan trapped him LBW with a ball over the wicket. Trott made a start getting to 17 before he edged to keeper MS Dhoni who held a smart catch. Kevin Pieterson was bowled by Ojha for the second time, as he departed for two.

Alistair Cook shrugged the pressure of seeing himself reach 168 not out at close of play on day four. England were in trouble at 199-5, before Prior and Cook engineered an unbroken partnership of 141.

England started the final day on 340-5, with a ten run lead. Cook and Prior’s sixth wicket partnership off 157 was however over quick as Ojha struck in quick succession.

Graeme Swann tried making a late fight back scoring a quick fire 17 but to no avail, when Ashwin bowled him off an attempted sweep. Broad and Bresnan folded under pressure leaving India an easy target of 77.

The first innings star Cheteshwar Pujara continued where he left with an unbeaten 41 to help India chase down a mediocre target inside 15 overs after Virender Sehwag fell to Swann for 25.

All in all, it was a bad test for England, but there were some indiviudal positives to take out of it as Cook and Prior showed the Indians can be played against in their own back garden.

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