- Virat Kohli at a training session in Ahmedabad, November 13.
India has beaten England by nine wickets in the first Test of the winter series in Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat.
Virat Kohli hit the winning runs soon after lunch on the final day, with man-of-the-match Cheteshwar Pujara at the non-striker’s end. After scoring an unbeaten 206 in the first innings, the 24-year-old Pujara notched up 41 not out in the second.
England had no answer. Only Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann offered any real resistance over the five days, but it was always going to be a battle just to get a draw after the English were bowled out for 191 in their first innings, 330 runs short of India’s 521 for eight declared.
Cook and Prior led a fightback on Sunday that took the match into the final day. Cook amassed 176 runs, the highest score by an England captain in India, before being bowled by Pragyan Ojha, who had a marvelous match, taking five for 45 in the first innings and four for 120 in the second. Prior also fell to Ojha, caught and bowled on 91.
India wrestled back control early Monday, bowling England out for 406, leaving a target of just 77 runs. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni described it as a “fantastic performance by the whole team,” as the pace bowlers Umesh Yadav and Zaheer Khan also got five second innings wickets between them.
In the absence of Gautam Gambhir, who flew back to New Delhi after the death of his grandmother, Pujara and Virender Sehwag guided India most of the way home with a partnership of 57. Sehwag was caught by Kevin Pietersen, his teammate in India Premier League team the Delhi Daredevils, nearly toppling over the boundary. Kohli then came to the crease and finished off the job with Pujara.
It was a clinical performance by India, who will take great confidence into the next Test, which starts Friday in Mumbai. England, on the other hand, has many questions to answer. Cook and Prior scored two-thirds of the team’s total runs, while Swann took two-thirds of the wickets. England will need more than three players to show up at Wankhede Stadium.
Pietersen’s troubles against left-arm spin continue, and Jonathan Trott fell to spinners in both innings. Ian Bell was out for a golden duck in the first innings and scored only 22 in the second. Samit Patel scored just 10 runs and took only one wicket in the entire match, a performance that will surely see him dropped for Mumbai.
Patel did at least catch that city’s favorite son, Sachin Tendulkar, in India’s first innings. The crowds will come out in force to see the Little Master later this week, hoping that he will star in a match that takes this series beyond England.