India need another miracle

Nilankur Das

Kolkata, Dec. 8 -- Former India opener WV Raman keeps telling his trainees to switch off the mind between deliveries and when at the non-striking end while playing a long innings. It keeps the mind active when facing and helps in quick decision making. Alastair Cook must have been doing the same in his 377-ball innings.

For a little over eight hours at the Eden Gardens, the England skipper had made decisions and made them right. Well, almost. But he must have switched off at the non-striking end. It was an hour after lunch on Day 3.

So, when Virat Kohli's throw came towards him, he was indecisive. Kohli had the presence of mind to turn around and throw at the non-striking end after he had picked up a push by Kevin Pietersen on the leg side.

Cook, who had backed up was on his way home when he saw the ball coming towards him and took evasive action.

The ball went through the gap he created and hit the stumps with Cook caught short. Jonathan Trott said at the press conference that Cook was quiet but disappointed. And it was definitely not because it was the first time he was run out in first-class cricket.

Missed out

All he had to do was plant the bat once inside and then move away and even if was out of his crease, he would not have been out as he was trying to take evasive action. But he let the ball go past first and then put his bat down.

Umpire Rod Tucker consulted India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and then checked with the third umpire to find out whether Cook had grounded his bat first and then moved away.

He had not and so the batsman, whose back the Indians want to see now, had to walk back just 10 runs short of his third Test double century.

What was Cook thinking? Dhoni had called back Ian Bell in Trent Bridge after a bizarre run out last year. There wasn't much chance of that here.

Eden Gardens has seen freakish run outs before. Most remembered at least two. Kris Srikkanth had lost his bat and was run out against Imran Khan's Pakistan in 1989 in an ODI, triggering a collapse which led to defeat.

Sachin Tendulkar was given run out after a collision with the bowler, Shoaib Akhtar, in a Test match in 1999. The crowd protested violently and the Test was ultimately completed in front of empty stands.

Showing fight

On Friday, the stands were not as empty as the second day, but a standing ovation was still there. Cook's dismissal changed things quickly in the middle.

India suddenly looked more purposeful. The bowling looked more improved. The ball began to beat the bat more often. But then the follow-up ball was not there.

Ishant Sharma beat the outside edge repeatedly and drifted the next ball into the pads. So did Pragyan Ojha. He got appreciable turn from the rough Zaheer Khan had created.

But he did not hit that spot frequently enough to create doubt in the minds of the English. Monty Panesar watching from the dressing room must be raring to go again.

That the Indian bowlers did not manage to bowl to their field was proved by the 62 boundaries they have already conceded along with five sixes.

And the England innings is still not over. The lead is 193 now going into the fourth day and the visitors are quickly getting into a position from where they cannot lose this Test.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.