It was always going to be a huge mountain to climb for the Indians by the time the play had ended on the second day. By the time the third day’s play had ended between India and England at Birmingham, the mountain had turned into the Mt. Everest.
Alastair Cook ensured that his mammoth innings of 294 – which was 70 more than what the entire Indian team got in the first innings – propelled the English towards their highest score in non-Timeless Test match cricket and helped the home team lead by 486 runs by the time they had drawn the curtains on their innings.
And as if to make the Everest look a couple of kilometres taller than usual, Virender Sehwag completed a king pair in the match by slashing one straight to the slip fielder off the first ball he faced. Poor Sehwag had been flown in early from his rehabilitation in India to play in this game and his only contribution in the match was a couple of first-ball ducks!
It was always going to be that kind of a day for India, especially after the English side had ended the previous one at 456 for three, with Cook firmly perched on his way to a double century. To be fair to the Indian pace bowlers, they did a good job of restricting the English batsmen, not allowing them to get too many runs, but the wickets still did not come. A rain-filled first session saw the overs being reduced and England going into lunch at 503 for three.
Post lunch, Eoin Morgan brought up his century, not an entirely chanceless one given the two dropped catches in the knock on the second day, but a satisfying one alright – especially after his loss of form in the first three innings of the series. He was soon dismissed for 104 after he tried to accelerate the scoring to only find Sehwag at short cover.
The second session went on to become India’s most productive in terms of the wickets taken, as Morgan’s dismissal was soon followed by Ravi Bopara (7) and Matt Prior (5) not troubling the scorers too much. Bopara, who was making a comeback in this Test match, had to wait for almost 161 overs to come out to bat and lasted only 15 balls at the crease.
It was Tim Bresnan’s 75-ball 53 that allowed England to score some quick runs, even as Cook looked to get to his maiden triple century at the other end. The exhaustion would have probably been taking its toll as well, as he slowed down considerably towards the end before a rather rash chip over the cover field saw Cook hole out to the fielder at the fence. His long vigil of 294 was over and the declaration came simultaneously.
So India batted 12 overs in the rest of the day, lost Sehwag and ended on 35 for one. They are still at the foothills of the Everst and if they need to come out unscathed from this Test match, they will have to look at batting for five more sessions. Gauging by the fact that they have struggled to bat even three, the task will be a momentous one if they get there. Currently India trail by 451 runs.