Sprinters in a walkathon


During that time, India clawed back from a hopeless position in this match, and raised ambitions of a comeback in this series. But once the fifth wicket stand was broken, England made the shortest of work of Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla, keeping this match in the balance for the penultimate day. Thirty-three runs arrears of England's first innings and with two wickets in hand, the finale will now be decided on a second innings play-off over 180 overs.

The day proceeded timelessly through sessions, with the two players and the opposition on show cut from vastly different fabrics. Kohli: spongey and resistant, Dhoni: tough like horse-hide, England: innocuous as bubble-wrap — once the swellings burst, its went flat. For the first hour of the day, a few bubbles were still alive — as Alastair Cook corked up all of Kohli's scoring areas, hoping the youngster would asphyxiate. It was furthest from the truth, the move only gave India's new number five a lesson in breathing under pressure.

Clawing back

Yes, at first, Kohli tried fruitlessly to drive Monty Panesar through the off and dab Graeme Swann through midwicket. It didn't work. So he learned to cut. Or play from deep within his crease and allow the ball to come to him, only to meet it with a dead bat.

Dhoni was the exact opposite. He trusted his instinct to push at the ball, charging it with his forearms on pitching. Like with Kohli, it didn't give him runs but it didn't get him out either. By the first drinks of the day, India had added 26 runs in 17 overs. With little change in either of their approaches until lunch (India were going at exactly a run rate of two in 73 overs), the focus shifted to England's second new ball. Cook took it three overs after it was due, and perhaps regretted it two over later.

... contd.

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