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Cook's defiance not enough to save England

Alastair Cook will have bittersweet memories of his first Indian Test match as England captain. His heroic resistance by batting throughout the fourth day in Ahmedabad gave England hopes of escaping what had seemed like certain defeat. On the final day those hopes were dashed quickly as England were dismissed, and India made short work of hitting the winning runs.

Cook’s calm brilliance was all the more impressive given the failings of England’s other leading batsmen. Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott all succumbed to poor concentration, bad decision-making and rash shots. Samit Patel was once more the victim of some harsh umpiring.

Cook batted sublimely, finding a valuable colleague in the reliable Matthew Prior, who took the pressure off his captain admirably. While Cook defended impeccably, Prior was always ready to despatch the occasional poor delivery to the boundary. When Prior went unluckily to a ball that kept low, the resistance was over

Cook’s 176 was the highest-ever score by an England captain in India, and put to rest any concerns that the duties of captaincy might distract Cook from his batting. It was his 21st century for England, a tally that puts him level with Pietersen and his predecessor as captain, Andrew Strauss, at a much younger age. He attributes his powers of concentration to his time spent as a chorister in St Paul’s Cathedral.

England move on to the next Test in Mumbai with only four days to think about potential team changes. There is considerable speculation that spin bowler Monty Panesar will return to the side, and Steven Finn should be fit again. Ian Bell’s spot of paternity leave for that match has come at a propitious time for a player whose lack of focus was apparent in Ahmedabad. Eoin Morgan or Jonny Bairstow are potential replacements.

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