Ahmedabad: Captain Alastair Cook led a remarkable England fightback with a heroic unbeaten 168 as the defiant visitors wiped out India’s mammoth first innings lead with a gritty batting display to raise hopes of saving the first cricket Test here today.
The 27—year—old Cook displayed immense concentration and skill to not only notch up his 21st Test century under pressure but also keep his team in the game as he steered England to 340 for five at close on the penultimate day which saw the Sardar Patel track ease out quite a bit.
The England captain found an able ally in Matt Prior (84) as the duo put on an unfinished 141—run partnership to leave the Indians frustrated.
The spinners, who were expected to do the bulk of the damage, found it difficult to get the wickets.
England, who conceded a mammoth 330—run first innings lead and were asked to follow—on, have now taken a lead of 10 runs, setting the stage for an interesting fifth day’s play tomorrow with all three results possible.
India will look to claim the remaining five wickets as quickly as possible tomorrow and push for a 1—0 lead in the four—match series.
England, on the other hand, will try to bat as much as possible and may even put pressure on India by taking a substantial lead on a tricky fifth day track.
Resuming at the overnight score of 111 for no loss, England lost the wickets of Nick Compton (37), Jonathan Trott (17), Kevin Pietersen (2), Ian Bell (22) and Samit Patel (0) but it was Cook who stood like a rock to hold the English innings together showing superb endurance.
Cook batted the whole day with exemplary patience, determination and composure to remain unconquered.
Cook, who has faced 341 balls and struck 20 fours, was given splendid support by Prior, who was not out on 84 that came off 190 balls and contained 10 fours.