Tag Archives: compton

County Championship 2013: Nick Compton"s rise highlights importance of domestic circuit

County cricket is back! And if you're in any doubt how relevant it is, just ask Compton

By
Richard Gibson

PUBLISHED:

22:26 GMT, 9 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:19 GMT, 10 April 2013

Anyone wondering whether the County Championship retains its relevance within the framework of 21st-century cricket ought to pose the question to Nick Compton.

In an age when Twenty20 offers the quickest route to fame and fortune, Compton took the sleepy backroads around the shires with Somerset to reach the international fast lane.

Perhaps held back in his early career by lugging a famous surname around, the 29-year-old has flourished since moving to Taunton in 2010.

Driving seat: Nick Compton hit back-to-back centuries in New Zealand to all but secure his Ashes spot

Driving seat: Nick Compton hit back-to-back centuries in New Zealand to all but secure his Ashes spot

Prolific: Compton averaged 99.25 last season

Prolific: Compton averaged 99.25 last season

Last season he achieved a Bradman-esque
County Championship average of 99.25 and, two Test hundreds in New
Zealand later, he holds an England place three months shy of the Ashes.

‘The County Championship provides the route to the England team and it is really important that message is projected.

'Compton is a fine example of someone who was banging out big runs to a degree where we could no longer not pick him,’ acknowledged England limited-overs coach Ashley Giles as county sides prepare for Wednesday's opening games of the Championship season.

‘In the end he selected himself by the sheer weight of numbers he was stacking up and that has to be a boost for all county cricketers out there.

'From my experience with Warwickshire, he was by far the stand-out guy we played against; by virtue of the fact you actually had to get him out.

'He exhibited the skills you look for in a top player as well. You can’t just do it by getting runs, you have to display the mental and physical attributes to play Test cricket.’

Mark Butcher, a predecessor of Compton’s as an England Test opener, added: ‘Compo’s thing is that he was not picked on the basis of one glorious summer. He has done it year in, year out and that as much as anything is the lesson for others.’

Recognition: England coach Ashley Giles believes Compton selected himself after his prolific run-scoring

Recognition: England coach Ashley Giles believes Compton selected himself after his prolific run-scoring

Championship cricket, with its
unrelenting schedule, remains the best gauge of a player’s credentials,
according to Giles, the director of cricket who guided Warwickshire to
the title last September.

‘Over
the course of a long season, take away all the variables of weather,
injuries to a degree, and it is the best signal of who is the best
cricket team in the land,' he said.

On Wednesday morning, the Championship
pennant will be hoisted on the pavilion at Edgbaston for the champions’
opening fixture against Derbyshire. But who does Giles view as the most
likely challengers this year

Champions: Warwickshire will begin their Division One defence on Wednesday against Derbyshire

Champions: Warwickshire will begin their Division One defence on Wednesday against Derbyshire

Addition: Middlesex have been strengthened by the signing of James Harris (left)

Addition: Middlesex have been strengthened by the signing of James Harris (left)

‘I think Middlesex will be a dangerous side,’ he said. ‘When we sat back at the end of last season and reflected, we felt they were the most similar side to us in how they played their cricket. If they had nudged us a bit harder last year I reckon they could have beaten us but they were quite tentative.’

Former Surrey batsman Butcher, meanwhile, said: ‘I will be keeping an eye on Yorkshire because they are a very talented group. They have some young guys in there so to go all the way might be beyond them because of that youth.

‘To me it’s no surprise that Warwickshire got into positions to win things over the past couple of years because of the average age of their team. They are a mature team, not an old team.'

Cups run over: All the trophies that will be played for this summer, and the Ashes in the middle

Cups run over: All the trophies that will be played for this summer, and the Ashes in the middle

Ashley Giles and Mark Butcher were talking ahead of this year’s LV= County Catch-up – A monthly online programme featuring news, player interviews and behind the scenes insight from the LV= County Championship circuit.

Steven Finn and Jonathan Trott help England draw first Test with New Zealand

Finn and Trott help save first Test as England bat their way to a draw in Dunedin

By
Paul Newman

PUBLISHED:

03:51 GMT, 10 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

03:51 GMT, 10 March 2013

Steven Finn took a big stride down this lifeless Dunedin wicket ball after ball to repel New Zealand and rescue England from first Test embarrassment today in one of the great displays of nightwatchman defiance.

Not since Alex Tudor made an unbeaten 99 in England’s victory charge against New Zealand in 1999 at Edgbaston has a bowler doing a batsman’s job for England made such an impact as a nightwatchman.

It seemed an excessively cautious act by England to send Finn in ahead of Jonathan Trott when Alastair Cook was out with just over two overs left on the fourth day but far from just seeing his team through to the close the big fast bowler went on and on and on today.

Unlikely hero: Nightwatchman Steven Finn hit 50 as England drew the first Test

Unlikely hero: Nightwatchman Steven Finn hit 50 as England drew the first Test

Finn outlasted Nick Compton, Trott and Kevin Pietersen to score his first half-century in first-class cricket and go a long way towards earning England a draw that will feel like a great escape after they were humiliated for an abject 167 in their first innings.

For whatever inexplicable reason England have again been slow starters in an overseas series but have got away with their first innings negligence here and will feel that they cannot bat as badly again at either Wellington or Auckland.

They owe much of that to Finn. If the man preferred to Jimmy Anderson as nightwatchman got out early on the fifth day it is probable that England would have been on the end of one of the biggest upsets in recent Test history.

As it was they were made to battle all the way by a New Zealand side who pushed hard for what would have been one of their greatest modern wins, having England421 for six, a lead of 128, when both Brendon McCullum decided that enough was enough at the start of the last hour.

Such had been the quality of the start of England’s second innings, Compton and Cook putting on 231 for the first wicket, that England knew they just had to bat sensibly on what was effect a fourth day pitch to survive.

But Compton, who played what may turn out to be a career defining innings to record his maiden Test century on Saturday, could add only 15 to his overnight 102 before he was trapped lbw by the impressive and ever persevering Neil Wagner to give New Zealand hope.

That brought in Trott who had the rare experience of outscoring his partner as he moved smoothly along towards a fluent half-century, the only surprise coming when he was athletically caught by Wagner off his own bowling.

Kevin Pietersen, still looking rusty after his extended break from first-class cricket, arrived on a king pair but eased his first ball through midwicket for two. It could have been the cue to calm Pietersen down but he never looked comfortable before inside edging his new nemesis Wagner through to BJ Watling and departed for 12. England can only hope he is more fluent is the second Test which begins on Thursday.

When England had moved on to 382 for four at tea, a lead of 89, that seemed all but safe but the trouble was that they had scored too slowly to be out of New Zealand’s reach, only 53 runs coming in the middle session.

Certainly when Finn’s long vigil was over when he was trapped attempting to sweep the left-arm spinner Bruce Martin, after facing 203 balls for his 56, there was the hint of a twitch for England. When Joe Root was then run out without scoring the wobble was very much on.

But the bottom line was that this was a lifeless University Oval pitch, which made England’s first innings capitulation all the more inexplicable, and Ian Bell and Matt Prior were able to negotiate the remaining overs for England without alarm.

New Zealand will be able to hold their heads up high after this match. They went into the series seemingly in turmoil internally and with very few players of genuine Test-class. Yet in Neil Wagner they seem to have found a left-arm seamer with considerable enthusiasm and no little pace and in Hamish Rutherford they have found an opener who has started off in the best manner possible.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that England, under-prepared after just one first-class warm-up match, were complacent here, even if it was sub-consciously, but they now know they are in a proper series.

The second Test follows in Wellington on Thursday and , after this experience, they will be backing themselves to do what they did in India and come back from a rotten first Test to win the series.

England lose Test warm-up game by three wickets to New Zealand XI

Watling's second half-century gives Cook and Co plenty to ponder ahead of first Test as England lose tour match

By
David Clough, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

07:33 GMT, 2 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:33 GMT, 2 March 2013

England suffered an unexpected defeat as BJ Watling's second half-century of the match proved too much for the tourists at the Queenstown Event Centre ground.

Watling (89no) followed his unbeaten 66 in the first innings with another telling contribution to help a New Zealand XI chase 334 to prevail in a tight finish with eight balls and three wickets to spare.

England, in their first red-ball fixture of a double-Ashes year in this warm-up for the first of three Tests in Dunedin, were losing in a first-class tour match for the first time in almost seven years – the last defeat came against an India board XI in Vadodara.

Trudging off: England captain Alastair Cook alongside Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad react after losing to the New Zealand XI

Trudging off: England captain Alastair Cook alongside Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad react after losing to the New Zealand XI

Watling finished with eight fours and two sixes from 122 balls, in a run chase which featured three other individual scores between 40 and 50 as England – without rested frontline seamers James Anderson and Steven Finn – paid for an unconvincing performance with the ball in particular.

Graham Onions lost his way, and it is hard to see him being considered as the go-to back-up Test seamer if needed after recording match figures of one for 213.

Inconsistent batting from the top six was also part of the problem – with Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Nick Compton all short of runs as the Test series looms.

There was no particular shame in losing to a team in which all but Carl Cachopa have international experience, and five – including wicketkeeper Watling – are in the squad to face England again next week.

It is hardly the start Alastair Cook would have wanted nonetheless as his side seek to follow up their historic series win in India with more success here over the next three weeks.

After England declared on their overnight 256 for nine, progress was initially unremarkable for both sides.

Openers Hamish Rutherford and Tom Latham began the chase with their second stand of 56 in this match, at four-an-over on a cloudy morning which yielded no immediate headway for Stuart Broad and Onions with the new ball.

Rutherford even climbed into an upper-cut which deposited a short ball from Broad high over point and into the enclosure in front of the players' pavilion for six.

Soon afterwards, Broad hit the same batsman on the head with a sharp bouncer.
But it was first-change Chris Woakes who made the first breakthrough when Rutherford cut him into the hands of point.

Woakes was rewarded for a spell which was much-improved from his first-innings efforts, and Broad also struck in the next over when he switched to a fuller length and bowled a static Cachopa for a third-ball duck.

Onions looked a slightly more likely wicket-taker too for a time, but no one could find a way past Latham or Neil Broom up to lunch.

Their stand had extended to 64 by the time Swann got Latham two short of his half-century, apparently caught-behind as he tried to sweep.

Then with the first ball after mid-session drinks, Broad saw off Broom lbw playing no shot.

When Dean Brownlie went too before tea, neatly caught low at second slip by Swann off the returning Woakes, the hosts were running out of frontline batsmen.

But Watling and Corey Anderson, who had battered England for a rapid century stand in the first innings, were once more in occupation.

They almost repeated the dose too, in a partnership of 82 this time which took the hosts to well within 100 runs of their target with more than 20 overs remaining.

Onions had suffered at Anderson's hands yesterday, and did so again today in two overs which cost 23 runs and contained three no-balls.

A much-needed wicket came from an unlikely source in Joe Root, who did Anderson in the flight as he aimed another big hit to leg and was bowled.

Swann, off the field for several overs previously, returned only to almost immediately drop Watling on 47 off Broad at gully.

It proved a costly miss – because, even after Jimmy Neesham had pulled a Root long-hop straight into Broad's hands at square-leg, Watling saw the job through against the second new ball in an unbroken half-century stand alongside Neil Wagner.

England v India: How Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Monty Panesar and co rated – Top Spin

From the brilliance of Cook to Broad's Tour nightmare… how England's heroes rated in India

|

UPDATED:

14:11 GMT, 18 December 2012

What better way to celebrate England's first series win in India since 1984-85 than by lavishing on Alastair Cook's heroes some marks out of 10 Here's the Top Spin's man-by-man guide to a famous few weeks…

Alastair Cook 9

Thank goodness there was no DRS: had Cook been given out lbw for 41 during his second-innings 176 at Ahmedabad, the knock which allowed the players to go to bed – Cook's own phrase – believing they could play India's spinners would not have materialised. Instead, England's new captain kept ramming home the point, with 122 at Mumbai and 190 at Kolkata.

/12/18/article-2249975-1690D5BF000005DC-242_468x328.jpg” width=”468″ height=”328″ alt=”Welcome back: England heroes Cook and Panesar arrive in London on Tuesday” class=”blkBorder” />

Welcome back: England heroes Cook and Panesar arrive in London on Tuesday

Top Spin

And he is now one of only four England captains – Douglas Jardine, Tony Greig and David Gower are the others – to have won a Test series in India.

Runs: 562, High Score: 190, Average: 80.28

Nick Compton 6

Amid the immediate post-match celebrations at Nagpur, Compton cut a slightly dejected figure, quietly reasoning that he had not contributed in the manner of some of his team-mates.

And yet four successive opening stands with Cook of 50-plus were a vital part of the team's ecosystem, and the partnership of 166 at Kolkata laid the base for series-clinching lead.

There was merit as well in the way Compton overcame a poor start to the warm-up matches, when the dual pressures of having a famous grandfather – feted in these parts – and keeping out Joe Root might have taken their toll. Only in his failure to pass 57 after making several starts counted against him.

Runs: 208, High Score: 57, Average: 34.66

Steady: Compton didn't contribute in the manner of some of his team-mates

Steady: Compton didn't contribute in the manner of some of his team-mates

Jonathan Trott 7

It was all OK in the end, because Trott was able to revel in his natural game both in Kolkata and Nagpur, and he was no longer playing down the wrong line to the spinners. But two ducks in his first three innings suggested he might embody England's 2012 struggles against Asian spin.

The things changed. His hands became softer, and the work of the opening batsmen and the bowlers – who didn't allow India past 327 after Ahmedabad – meant he didn't walk out under quite the same pressure again.

And while Trott was drawing what little sting remained from India's bowlers in the last day and a half at Nagpur, it's quite possible England felt they could not have chosen a better man for the job.

Runs: 294, High Score: 143, Average: 42.00

On form: KP was one of England's star performers in India

On form: KP was one of England's star performers in India

Kevin Pietersen 8

Pietersen's ascent from the ridiculous of Ahmedabad to the sublime of Mumbai was one of many beguiling tales offered by this tour.

In a series characterised by careful batting, that 186 at the Wankhede was challenged only by Virender Sehwag's curtain-raising ton.

Of course, we may be back into the realms of Steve Archibald and his now-hackneyed take on team spirit, but Pietersen's reintegration seemed genuine enough – not least when Jimmy Anderson ran all the way to point to leap into his arms after bowling Sehwag for a first-over duck in the fourth Test.

Just as revealing were two selfless fifties: in Kolkata, he immediately changed the mood of a turgid third day by hitting the first three balls after tea to the fence; in Nagpur, he ground out 73 when every fibre of his being must have urged him to be reckless.

Can people say England managed him badly now

Runs: 338, High Score: 186, Average: 48.28

Ian Bell 6

If he redeemed himself – and his mediocre career record in India – with a series-confirming hundred on the last day of the series, then it was not entirely clear whether Bell quite appreciated the trouble he could have been in.

His first-baller at Ahmedabad could have haunted him to the end of his career had Jonny Bairstow made runs in Mumbai, when Bell was back home with his new baby. But Bell returned immediately for Eden Gardens, where he made sure 8 for 3 on the final morning did not become a calamity, and then brushed aside a lame first-innings chip off Piyush Chawla at Nagpur to steer England stylishly to safety.

Runs: 172, High Score: 116*, Average: 43.00

Centurion: Bell saved his Tour with a series-confirming ton

Centurion: Bell saved his Tour with a series-confirming ton

And the good news for him is that England's 15 Tests in 2013 are all against either New Zealand or Australia, with their emphasis on seam bowling.

Samit Patel 6

He didn't do a lot wrong – the recipient of two poor decisions at Ahmedabad, he put together important cameos in the first innings at Mumbai and Kolkata, where Sehwag might easily have dropped the slip catch which cost Patel his wicket.

But the decisive contribution was lacking, and when it became clear that Monty Panesar's left-arm spin needed no back-up, Patel's early-tour status as one of England's most assured players of spin no longer counted for much. It seems harsh, but there is a good chance he will never play a Test match for England again.

Runs: 69, High Score: 33, Average: 17.25

End of the road: Will Samit Patel play for England again

End of the road: Will Samit Patel play for England again

Matt Prior 8

Prior's role in the life-affirming follow-on at Ahmedabad was easy to overlook while Cook was rewriting the record books, but the contrast throughout the series of his punchy counterattacks and the generally insipid offerings of MS Dhoni gave England heart and belief.

And his 57 at Nagpur, after England had slipped to 139 for 5, was a series-rescuer. If there remain some doubts about his glovework up to the stumps, his keeping standing back and his all-round selflessness were a reminder that there is no more valuable No 7 in Test cricket.

Runs: 258, High Score: 91, Average: 51.60
Catches: 6 Stumps: 1

Matt finish: Prior proved invaluable again for England

Matt finish: Prior proved invaluable again for England

Graeme Swann 8

So much for a steady decline. From the first day of the series, when Swann alone took the fight to India's rampaging top order, via Mumbai (where he was a canny foil to Panesar) and Kolkata (where he altered the mood of the fourth day by bowling Sehwag with the first ball after lunch) – from there all the way to Nagpur, where he took his series tally to 20, surpassed by no one, England's off-spinner was one their four most valuable players.

The extent to which he outbowled Ravi Ashwin – more tweak, more oomph, more accuracy – gradually eroded India's credibility. And he finally decided he fancied a bat as well: at Nagpur he made his first Test fifty for three years, and took England to 330, which was a basis for negotiation. One plea, though: please bin the reverse-swipe.

Runs: 98, High Score: 58, Average: 32.66
Wickets: 20, Average: 24.75

Spin kings: Swann and Panesar helped guide England to an impressive series win

Spin kings: Swann and Panesar helped guide England to an impressive series win

James Anderson 8

His improvement as the series went on was a joy to behold, and Dhoni would single Anderson out as the difference between the sides.

At Ahmedabad, his and England's failure
to find reverse-swing compared badly with India's success. At Mumbai,
the ball barely swung conventionally either, but Anderson exploited the
one that did, trapping Gautam Gambhir with the second delivery of the
match. And when he did find reverse, at Kolkata, he was sublime.

Beer we go: Anderson celebrates

Beer we go: Anderson celebrates

But no session exemplified his fitness, skill and stamina better than the third evening at Nagpur. Virat Kohli and Dhoni had batted all day, and India were thinking in terms of a handy lead. But Anderson roared in for the final hour to energise England. Four wickets fell, and India could never push on. It was world-class.

Runs: 17, High Score: 9, Average: 4.25
Wickets: 12, Average: 30.25

Monty Panesar 8

If English groundsmen could produce tracks like the Wankhede at the click of Panesar's weirdly long spinning fingers, he would end up with one of the great all-time Test records.

Instead, the shame is that we may need to enjoy him while conditions last. Because at Mumbai he was magnificent, driving the Indians onto the back foot with his pace, and thus opening up lbw against the right-handers.

When Pragyan Ojha protested that not every spinner could match the mphs achieved by Monty, he did so with a telling air of resignation. But he could defend as well, and Cook rightly called him a 'captain's dream' after he got through 52 uncomplaining overs for 81 in the final Test. He seems to be setting his own fields with conviction too. But when will we see him again

Runs: 5, High Score: 4, Average: 2.50
Wickets: 17, Average: 26.82

Stuart Broad 3

It was a tour to forget for England's vice-captain, who bruised a heel, scuffled with Ian Botham on Twitter, and failed to claim a wicket in 36 expensive overs. He was scolded publicly during a press conference with the normally phlegmatic bowling coach David Saker. He'll be back. But he won't be able to put this tour behind him quickly enough.

Runs: 34, High Score: 25, Average: 11.33
Wickets: 0, Ave: –

Road to recovery: Broad won't remember this Tour with much fondness

Road to recovery: Broad won't remember this Tour with much fondness

Tim Bresnan 4

Once England's talisman, Bresnan played only in the defeat at Ahmedabad and the draw at Nagpur, where he bowled his heart out but lacked Anderson's class. If Steven Finn can stay fit in the years ahead, Bresnan may revert to the place on the bench which some – perhaps rather too readily at times – always regarded as his destiny.

Runs: 39, High Score: 20, Average: 13.00
Wickets: 0

One-test wonders
Steven Finn 8

Who knows whether Finn might have flogged some life out of the Nagpur pitch, but his spell on the fourth afternoon at Eden Gardens fulfilled all the hopes and dreams the management had invested in him before he tweaked a thigh muscle on the opening day of the tour.

Runs: 4, High Score 4*
Wickets: 0

Joe Root 9

His remarkable debut blockathon spelled bad news for India's bowlers and possibly for Compton. And he had the nerve to unveil the reverse-sweep on the last day at Nagpur as well.

Runs: 93, High Score: 73, Average: 93.00

Alastair Cook is just shy of Ken Barrington"s 50 year old record

Top spin at the Test: Captain Cook just shy of 50 year record

|

UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 16 December 2012

Cook falls just short

Alastair Cook’s second iffy dismissal
of the Test — given out caught behind off Ashwin when replays showed he
didn’t hit it — meant he finished the series with 562 runs at an
average of 80. He didn’t beat Ken Barrington’s England record for most
runs in a series in India: 594 in 1961-62 (from five Tests to Cook’s
four). But Cook has now scored more Test runs in India in his career
than any other Englishman: 866, beating Mike Gatting’s 862.

Close: The iffy dismissal of Alastair Cook meant the England captain was just out of reach of Ken Barrington's record of must runs in a series against India

Close: The iffy dismissal of Alastair Cook meant the England captain was just out of reach of Ken Barrington's record of must runs in a series against India

One giant leap for Mankad

Ravi
Ashwin said he wouldn't ‘Mankad’ Jonathan Trott if he backed up too far
— a practice immortalised by India’s Vinoo Mankad when he ran out
Australia’s Bill Brown at Sydney in 1947-48. But India’s off-spinner has
previous. In a one-dayer against Sri Lanka at Brisbane in March, Ashwin
ran out Lahiru Thirimanne at the non-striker’s end — but only after
warning him about leaving his crease. It needed Sachin Tendulkar to
persuade then captain Virender Sehwag to withdraw the appeal.

Who bats at the top

What batting line-up will England plump for when they play three Tests in New Zealand in March The performance of Joe Root in the first innings suggested it can’t be long before he is asked to assume the role he fills at Yorkshire at the top of the order. But Nick Compton finished with a creditable 208 runs in the series at an average of nearly 35 — and must now hope for another chance to impress against the Kiwis.

Duel: Nick Compton (left) faces a battle with Joe Root for a spot at the top of the England order

Duel: Nick Compton (left) faces a battle with Joe Root for a spot at the top of the England order

History is against India

India will have to make history of their own if they are to win this Test today and square the series at 2-2. Discounting the 1999-2000 Test at Centurion between South Africa and England (later found to have been fixed by Hansie Cronje), only two teams have ever won a Test after declaring behind on their first innings, as MS Dhoni did here. Both games took place at Bridgetown, and on both occasions West Indies lost — to England in 1934-35, and Australia earlier this year.

Slow play stuns Anderson

India’s tactics in the first hour of play seemed designed to help England in their quest to limit the time they needed to bat in their second innings. In 12.5 overs, the Indians added only 29 runs for the loss of No 10 Pragyan Ojha, before Dhoni’s bold declaration. ‘We were a little bit surprised,’ admitted Jimmy Anderson. ‘We certainly thought Ashwin would come out and be more aggressive than he was. It took time out of the game, which was fine for us.’

Pleased: James Anderson (pictured) was pleasantly surprised by the slow over rate employed by India

Pleased: James Anderson (pictured) was pleasantly surprised by the slow over rate employed by India

We
are unable to carry live pictures from the fourth Test in Nagpur due to a
dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and
international news organisations.

The
BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies
Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

India v England: Kevin Pietersen leads recovery on day one in Nagpur

KP leads England recovery as slow-scoring visitors struggle on day one of final Test

By
David Clough, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

11:02 GMT, 13 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

11:52 GMT, 13 December 2012

Kevin Pietersen helped England recover from the loss of two early wickets to eke out 199 for five on a pitch of turgid low bounce on day one of the final Test against India.

Alastair Cook's tourists, needing a draw in Nagpur to close out an historic series victory, lost both openers – their captain and Nick Compton – to India's lone pace bowler Ishant Sharma inside the first hour.

But Pietersen (73) and Jonathan Trott then shared a hard-working stand of 86 in 39 overs after England had chosen to bat first.

Leading the recovery: Pietersen hit 73 off 188 balls at Nagpur

Leading the recovery: Pietersen hit 73 off 188 balls at Nagpur

Pietersen had to play a very
different game in his 108-ball 50 today to the century with which he
transformed proceedings in England's famous second-Test victory in
Mumbai last month.

Extreme conditions here at the VCA
Stadium dictated that patience and watchfulness were a necessity, even
for a batsman of his world-class talent.

The same will surely pertain all
match, and may well mean England have fared acceptably at least –
especially after a second 50 partnership, unbroken between Matt Prior
and debutant Joe Root – on a surface precluding fluent strokeplay.

Compton was the first to be undone in slow-motion when a short delivery produced only looping, disorientating bounce.

He set himself with reflexes trained
for a pitch somewhere within the usual pace parameters. As the ball died
off the surface, Compton's bat was therefore thrown into position too
quickly and resulted in a thin edge which barely carried to the
wicketkeeper.

No ordinary Joe: Root ended day one on 31 runs after facing 110 balls

No ordinary Joe: Root ended day one on 31 runs after facing 110 balls

Cook needed 15 balls to get off the
mark, as Pragyan Ojha took the new ball in the absence of a second
seamer and tried to out-bore the England captain with a seven-two
leg-side field and consequent negative line.

Trott contributed England's first
boundary, a straight-driven four when Sharma helpfully took the pitch
out of the equation with a half-volley.

But the No 3 was fortunate to survive on seven when he played too soon at a length ball and was hit on the pad.

Sharma was convinced the lbw was
stone-dead, but umpire Kumar Dharmasena made the marginal call that ball
had hit pad just outside the line of off-stump.

Cook found himself on the other side
of a similar ruling soon afterwards from Dharmasena – and although it
looked as if he was hit outside the line, this time he had to go lbw.
England were in danger of fluffing their lines just when they need one
more confident performance to complete their mission improbable on this
tour.

Take bat: Jonathan Trott led a fightback with Pietersen

Take bat: Jonathan Trott led a fightback with Pietersen

But Trott and Pietersen provided
some much-needed stability as they gradually attuned themselves to an
unfamiliar experience, even by sub-continental standards.

Pietersen became sufficiently in sync to loft leg-spinner Piyush Chawla over mid-on for two boundaries in one over.

By early afternoon, he was also leg-glancing Ravichandran Ashwin for his seventh four to reach his half-century.

Trott dug in too for 133 balls until a
misjudgment against slow left-armer Ravindra Jadeja saw him wave
through an arm ball which bowled him off-stump.

Ian Bell disappointed, making only a single in 28 balls before poking a straightforward catch to cover off Chawla.

Pietersen had escaped a half-chance
on 61, when Cheteshwar Pujara could not quite gather a tough low catch
at midwicket off Sharma.

He shepherded Root through to tea.
But there was to be no record-equalling 23rd Test century, Pietersen
neatly caught low down by Ojha when he again chipped to midwicket – this
time advancing to Jadeja.

It was the latest in a series of
apparently unforced errors which had led to England wickets. But it
would be missing the point to view them in isolation, without reference
to the arduous process of trying to make runs in between with so little
pace and bounce on the batsman's side.

Prior joined Root, and the struggle
continued – favourably for England, though – for the remainder of the
evening session. Prior, like Pietersen, was forced to bat against type –
while Root impressed with his defensive technique and willingness to
meet spin with bat rather than pad even in the absence of DRS.

By the close, the jury had to stay
out on which team was ahead of the game. For England, after their
decidedly sticky start, deferred judgment was a tolerable outcome.

Picture dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from the fourth Test in Nagpur due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

England choose Joe Root for final India Test

EXCLUSIVE: England turn to Root as replacement for Patel in final India Test

|

UPDATED:

00:42 GMT, 13 December 2012

England are set to spring a surprise for the final Test in India by handing a Test debut to 21-year-old Joe Root.

Root is in line to replace Samit Patel at No 6, ahead of fellow Yorkshireman Jonny Bairstow, in Nagpur later today.

Chosen one: Joe Root is set to be named in the England side

Chosen one: Joe Root is set to be named in the England side

Root lost out to Nick Compton in the first Test and was overlooked in favour of Bairstow for the second Test when Ian Bell flew home for the birth of his child.

But his 166 in a warm-up match for the England Performance Programme impressed and it now seems he will be given his chance.

Missing out: Nick Compton was also in the frame to play

Missing out: Nick Compton was also in the frame to play

England need a win or draw to clinch a series victory in India for the first time since 1984-5.

England beat India by seven wickets in third Test

England survive late wobble to secure famous win by seven wickets

|

UPDATED:

09:08 GMT, 9 December 2012

England overcame a last-minute wobble to complete a seven-wicket win over India at Eden Gardens this morning and take a 2-1 lead with one Test to play.

Ravichandran Ashwin (91no) remained undefeated after his valiant resistance last night, but on the final day it took James Anderson (three for 38) only four balls to see off number 11 Pragyan Ojha as India were bowled out for 247 in their second innings.

England were left needing only 41 for a thoroughly-deserved victory, yet then stumbled to eight for three against the spin of Ashwin and Ojha before they got over the line.

Relaxing after the win: Jimmy Anderson raises a glass after the win

Important runs: Ian Bell scored 28 runs as England won by seven wickets

Getting the job done: Jimmy Anderson puts his feat up after the win as Ian Bell sees England home with an unbeaten 28

Ian Bell and Nick Compton settled the nerves and the issue, and England can therefore no longer lose this series.

For India, it was a first defeat since the last millennium at this famous venue, and England will become the first tourists since 2004 to win a Test series here if they can at least draw the last match in Nagpur.

After dominating the first three days thanks to captain Alastair Cook's batting and Anderson and Monty Panesar's bowling, they endured a chastening first session yesterday but then took six wickets for only 36 runs in the afternoon.

Seeing England home: Nick Compton kept his calm as England got over the line

Seeing England home: Nick Compton kept his calm as England got over the line

Only Ashwin delayed them, as 88 runs were added for the last two wickets and prevented England finishing the game inside four days.

The number eight immediately counted two more boundaries this morning too, a high-class back-foot force past cover and a vicious pull past midwicket off Steven Finn.

But in the second over, Anderson snaked one into left-hander Ojha from round the wicket and – even while he was appealing for caught-behind – belatedly noticed he had in fact dislodged the off-bail to at last end a last-wicket stand of exactly 50.

Missing out: Kevin Pietersen was out for a duck

Missing out: Kevin Pietersen was out for a duck

Ashwin had been denied a second Test century, but got his own back when Cook came down the wicket to him in the first over of England's mini-chase and was stumped for only the second time in his first-class career.

When Jonathan Trott was then lbw pushing forward to Ojha, and Kevin Pietersen edged Ashwin behind in defence for a five-ball duck, the unthinkable seemed briefly and horribly possible.

But the previously out-of-form Bell, in particular, had other ideas.

Picture dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from the third Test in Kolkata due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.
The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.
MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Top Spin at the Test: Compton is all out of glove as Tucker puts premature end to partnership

Top Spin at the Test: Tucker's luck for Nick as Compton is all out of glove

|

UPDATED:

21:08 GMT, 6 December 2012

Nick Compton had already reached the non-striker’s end by the time umpire Rod Tucker — after a bizarre shake of the head — gave him out lbw on the sweep to Pragyan Ojha. But replays suggested Compton had gloved the ball and the batsman himself said later: ‘It hit my glove. It’s one of those things. I’m a bit disappointed, but from his position it was a very difficult decision, so that’s the way it goes.’

Openers look a dynamic duo

Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss are comfortably England’s most prolific opening pairing, adding 5,253 Test runs together in 132 innings at an average of 40, with 14 century stands. Cook and Compton have already put on 438 runs together at an average of nearly 110 in only three Tests. On only four occasions did Cook and Strauss put on more than the 165 managed yesterday between the new England captain and his equally new opening partner.

In the runs: Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss are England's most prolific openers

In the runs: Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss are England's most prolific openers

Finn delivers on demand

A glimpse of why England were so keen for Steven Finn to play from the start of the series. With MS Dhoni threatening to extend India’s first innings, Cook turned to Finn, who responded by removing him in his first over. The nature of the ball — dug in short of a length, before climbing to take the shoulder of the bat — was just how England imagined it before Finn picked up the thigh injury that ruled him out of the first two Tests.

Ashwin’s turn to look average

India may be wondering what has happened to Ravichandran Ashwin. Feted as a mystery spinner before the start of the series, he briefly appeared to fit the bill with two early wickets on the second evening at Ahmedabad. But since England’s first innings there, he has looked ordinary, taking only three more wickets by stumps on the second day at an average of 115. His line to the right-handers has been especially poor.

Panesar excels on the subcontinent

England would dearly love to pick Monty Panesar in every Test they play, home and away, but continue to regard him as an Asian specialist because of his non-existent batting and fallible fielding. But the two wickets he took on the second morning lifted his tally for the series to 15 at 20 apiece. Graeme Swann has managed 15 at 23 — but in one more Test. The other England bowlers combined, meanwhile, have picked up eight wickets between them, five going to Jimmy Anderson.

Spearheading the attack: Monty Panesar

Spearheading the attack: Monty Panesar (FILE PHOTO)

India v England: Alastair Cook takes command of third Test with record 23rd century

Cook breaks records and Indian hearts as England take command of the third Test thanks to skipper's 23rd Test century

|

UPDATED:

11:13 GMT, 6 December 2012

Alastair Cook became England's most prolific Test centurion when he completed his 23rd – and third in successive matches – at Eden Gardens today.

Cook (136 not out) is also the youngest batsman in history to 7,000 runs, a milestone he passed with his 88th this afternoon as he and Nick Compton took control in an opening stand of 165 on day two of the third Test against India.

/12/06/article-2243830-02374BA100000514-789_468x324.jpg” width=”468″ height=”324″ alt=”In command: Record-breaker Alastair Cook (right) and Nick Compton (left)” class=”blkBorder” />

In command: Record-breaker Alastair Cook (right) and Nick Compton (left)

Cook was dropped on 17 when he edged Zaheer Khan low to slip, where Cheteshwar Pujara could not hold the catch.

Otherwise, though, the most likely mode of dismissal appeared to be a run-out as Cook and his apprentice partner took chances with scampered singles and more than once were in danger of mid-wicket collisions as they kept holding the same line.

Cook is the greatest!

Captain Marvel breaks record for most Test tons aged just 27 – Read more…

Lawrence Booth: Pujara left to ponder drop on just 17 – Read more…

There were to be no such mishaps, though, and Cook duly reached his 179-ball century with a leg-glance off Ravichandran Ashwin – having previously also hit the off-spinner for one memorable straight six to go with his 14 fours.

Compton (57) had fewer obvious scoring options but also profited from using his feet, hitting Pragyan Ojha for a six of his own over long-on, on his way to a maiden Test half-century in 123 balls.

Grandson of Denis, and two years Cook's senior, Compton therefore claimed a notable milestone of his own – albeit on a reduced scale to his captain's – before Ojha got his revenge.

Awesome foursome: Monty Panesar (left) took another two wickets on day two

Awesome foursome: Monty Panesar (left) took another two wickets on day two

Cook was safely past his hundred when Compton missed an attempted sweep at the slow left-armer and was, eventually, given out lbw by umpire Rod Tucker just as the batsmen completed what they thought by then was a leg-bye.

Jonathan Trott had made two ducks in his last three Test innings, but did enough here to help Cook consolidate an advantage which gives England clear prospects of pushing for a second successive win over their hosts.

Monty Panesar had earlier finished with four for 90, to add to his 11 wickets in the series-levelling victory in Mumbai, as England picked up the last three Indian wickets for 43 runs this morning – despite some late belligerence from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (52).

The home captain made his intent clear immediately, up the wicket to the second ball of the day to crunch James Anderson past mid-off.

His overnight partner Zaheer was dropped by Graeme Swann off Anderson, but was soon gone anyway – lbw to a Panesar arm ball.

Thinking to do: India captain MS Dhoni hit a half-century but is now under the cosh

Thinking to do: India captain MS Dhoni hit a half-century but is now under the cosh

Panesar also made short work of Ishant Sharma, but the last-wicket pair frustrated England for more than half an hour.

Ojha made no runs but kept out 19 balls, allowing Dhoni to club Panesar for successive sixes over long-off and long-on as England brought the field up for the final two deliveries of one over.

The cat-and-mouse continued, with four consecutive maidens at one point, until Cook had to rest Anderson for Steven Finn.

It was a change which brought Dhoni's 50, with his fifth four from 113 balls crashed past cover, but then the end too when he gloved the next ball and Swann did well to make ground from slip to complete a diving catch.

England had done well to restrict Dhoni's attempt to alter the momentum of a match which was to swing still further the tourists' way thanks to the next historic tour de force from Cook's remorseless repertoire.

PICTURE DISPUTE

We are unable to carry live pictures from the third Test in Kolkata due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies. MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.