India v England commentary
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Last Updated: 25/11/12 11:15am
England's best day of Test cricket in 2012. Cook and especially Pietersen were absolutely magnificent in a double-century stand the value of which has been displayed in full glare by India's slump to 117/7 against the brilliance of Panesar and Swann. Pietersen has achieved many extraordinary things in his career; making this pitch look flat may be top of the list. India lead by a mere 31 runs heading into day four with just those three wickets remaining. Make sure your alarms are set for the morning.
Gambhir cuts Swann away for four to bring up a 50 that's worth roughly 273 in normal circumstances. Ashwin's swiped 11 the only other double-figure score in the innings, and Gambhir's is only the fifth score of over 30 in the whole match. I'll let you do your own maths to decide the value of Pietersen's 186.Harbhajan's the new batsman, but Gambhir sees out the over as the batsmen crossed while Ashwin's miscue was in the air.Ashwin gone! His tactics were clear and, to be honest, understandable. But maybe not with the close in sight. Advances again but doesn't get to the pitch this time and slices the ball high in the air towards cover where Patel pack-pedals and holds on. A second five-fer in the match for Panesar, who becomes the first England spinner to take 10 wickets in a Test in India since Hedley Verity in 1934. Good pick.Ashwin could be dangerous here. He advances at Swann and smacks him down the ground for six. There's risk involved but his arm-chancing might just come off and give India something to bowl at. Two overs left tonight.Good over for India. Ashwin works through midwicket for three and Gambhir skips down the ground to drive gloriously through the covers for four. Great effort this from a batsman well short of his best form. Another dangerous padding up on and around the off stump has England screaming an appeal, but with Panesar round the wicket to the left-hander and pitching the ball outside the off stump, the umpire's guessing as to whether it's spun back enough even if it spins big as this one assuredly did. India lead by 15.A leave from Gambhir here to file under 'dangerous'. Pads up to the ball pitching on off stump and just about gets away with it; spun too far and would've missed off.VVS Ashwin strides to the middle. He batted quite brilliantly in the first innings. India will still feel that one partnership can get this total towards something that has the potential to make England nervous. He's off the mark in confident style straight away, dancing down the track to hit mid-off.Cap or no cap, Dhoni is gone. Regulation left-armer's dismissal, drawing the right-handed batsman forward, finding the outside edge, slip snaffling the chance. Even Panesar's celebrations are nonchalant now: he expects to take these wickets. This time he just stands smiling and applauding the catcher. Trott certainly will have been pleased to hold on to one, even if it was a straightforward chance.Two singles from Swann's over. No huge problems for India's batsmen in at least the last couple of overs. The calming presence of their becapped captain at the crease, perhaps.A cut in front of square brings Gambhir three runs and levels the scores. A Dhoni single through point takes India into credit, at which point we as text commentators are contractually obliged to refer to the score thusly: India are effectively one for five.Three singles from Swann's over. India inching towards wiping out that deficit, but it's come at serious, possibly terminal, cost.Dhoni's the new batsman, and he's off the mark with a single to a deep-set mid-off. Sometimes field placings are strange. Panesar, Bairstow and co absolutely convinced they've got Gambhir caught off inside edge and thigh-pad now, but the crucial first contact was absent. Straight off the thigh-pad, good decision from Aleem Dar.Swann getting right-handers, Panesar getting left-handers. That's just all wrong. Regulation stuff this as the ball spins in to catch the glove and pop up to short-leg off the pad. It's Panesar's 150th Test wicket.Swann's given Gambhir a few chances to cut, and the batsman hasn't really taken advantage. This time he does, though, getting the ball between the two fielders in the point region and picking up four precious run. Deficit down to single figures as the last ball spins sharply past the outside and bounces alarmingly through to Prior who does well just to stop the ball at chest height.Yuvraj looking to defend Panesar into the offside, away from the close fielders. Cook responds by bringing in a silly point. Good move, but Yuvraj responds as well by back-cutting for two and then paddle-sweeping for four with no run-savers deployed behind square. Fascinating contest, it really is. Spinning pitches are fun pitches.Yuvraj avoids the king pair with a block, and the common-or-garden pair with a legside nurdle. Gambhir then beaten by sharp spin across him and past the outside edge. Two left-handers, turning pitch. Swann right in his element now.Yuvraj Singh in on a king pair. Swann to bowl to him...What. A. Gift. Kohli has thrown his wicket away in astonishing style here, miscuing a shin-high full-toss from Swann straight to mid-off where sub fielder Joe Root takes the easiest of catches. A disbelieving Kohli can barely drag himself from the field.Kohli whips a full-toss through midwicket for four before Kohli shoulders arms to a ball that misses the off stump by millimetres. It's so close that Prior is surprised by it and muffs the take to give away four byes. Panesar and England absolutely convinced they've got Kohli lbw in identical fashion to Tendulkar next ball, but Aleem Dar says no this time. Replays reveal an inside edge and an excellent decision. Kohli manages to get away from the danger with a single on the offside. Absolutely enthralling cricket.Maiden over from Swann, but not his best one. Gambhir's missed out on a few cuttable deliveries today and does so again here, picking out the man at point both times.Gambhir gets an inside edge past leg-slip for a single as Panesar continues to find sharp turn and bounce from all parts of this Mumbai pitch. No doubt that he and Swann have got more out of it than India's spin trio.India finally manage to rotate the strike as Gambhir picks up a single off Swann with a tuck into the legside. Kohli off the mark with a neat on-drive that Pietersen does well to half-stop at mid-on, saving two runs.Virat Kohli sees out the over. Worth noting that England have successfully managed to box in the batsmen at the 'right' ends in the last five or six overs with Swann bowling almost exclusively at the left-handed Gambhir and Panesar v Tendulkar.Got him again! Tendulkar plays back to Panesar and pays the price, hit on the knee in front of middle to fall palpably leg-before. Huge, huge moment as the Wankhede is silenced. India three down and stil trailing by 34 runs. That might just be Tendulkar's final dismissal in Test cricket here in Mumbai. Great breakthrough for England, but a sad way to finish here for SRT if indeed that is the case.Gambhir looking to defend off the back foot, so Swann occasionally slipping in a quicker, straighter delivery to try and pin him. Gets this one too straight, though, and Gambhir tucks it away fine on the legside for four. Gambhir forward to defend the next two before playing back to one that straightens and hits him on the knee in front of middle-and-leg. Huge lbw appeal and it's very, very close but Tony Hill says no. Swann has his head in his hands. Umpire's call says Hawk-Eye; clipping leg stump. The last ball of the over beats everyone, spinning and bouncing past Gambhir's outside edge and off Prior's gloves over Trott's head for two byes.This is just the very best kind of thing. Wonderful over from Panesar, expertly played by Tendulkar. Soft hands in evidence more than once as he steers a series of spitting, bouncing, turning balls calmly and quietly to the safety of the ground well short of the lurking catchers. Cricket, cricket, cricket. Cricket. Marvellous. Drinks.Maiden from Swann to Gambhir, who misses out on a couple of short, hittable balls by steering them straight at fielders. Tendulkar, meanwhile, is two short of 34,000 'international runs'. I think we can all agree it's the stat that will once and for all prove he is Good At Batting.Class is class. For all his struggles against Panesar here Tendulkar is still able to take advantage of any errors from the bowler. First Panesar slightly overpitches and is driven sumptuously through mid-on for four before he over-corrects, drags the ball down, and is whipped to fine-leg for four more. Panesar still hits back to spin the ball past the outside edge before the over is out, though.Panesar all over Tendulkar at one end, Swann all over Gambhir at the other. Ball spitting and bouncing, and some of these deliveries are close to unplayable. Gambhir beaten twice trying to defend before surviving an appeal for a catch down the legside. Thighpad.Close! Panesar almost has Tendulkar again as he briefly raises his back foot after being beaten defending but just manages to get his toe back down before Prior can get the bails off.Huge cheers from the Mumbai crowd in appreciation of that excellent Bairstow catch. Well, I assume that's what they're cheering. Sachin Tendulkar in at number four.That's the big wicket for England. Spin from Swann in his first over to find the inside half of Pujara's bat. The ball squirts into the legside off the pad and Bairstow dives to his left to take a really fine catch at short-leg. Pujara had just swatted a full-toss away for four, but Swann won't mind that now.Pujara's the new batsman, so it surely won't be long before India are two down.A couple of short balls from Panesar are cut away by Gambhir and Sehwag, but he gets it right after that with a perfect length ball that spins to take the shoulder of Sehwag's bat, and Swann takes a smart low catch at gully.Big lbw shout against Sehwag, but always sliding down leg. Gambhir drives through the covers but gets only three rather than four due to good work from Nick Compton.Another leading edge from Sehwag! Almost carries to mid-off, but not quite. Gambhir beaten on the back foot defending, and there's no doubt at which end batting is more troublesome for this pair so far, even if they are managing to pick up some runs off Monty.No swing for Anderson. Swann to Gambhir, Cooky. Swann to Gambhir. The obvious option can very often be the correct one.So much happening for Panesar here. First Sehwag gets a Bairstowian leading edge to point for a single before Gambhir gets an inside edge onto his pad and past Prior for a single. Still only two men round the bat for Sehwag, who takes the easy single to the point sweeper. In these opening overs, I can't have this field. If Sehwag wants to hit Panesar over mid-off or whack him through point before getting set then let him. Gambhir collects another easy single from the last ball of the over. Four runs from the over even with the defensive field, and at least two balls that might, just might have produced a wicket with a more attacking one. Can always move men back, but now is the time for attack. Cook just getting it wrong at the moment.Gambhir batting outside his crease against Anderson in a bid to avoid a repeat of the lbw from the first innings. Jimmy tries him with a couple of short balls, perhaps in response to that move from Gambhir. First one's excellent from Anderson, whistling past the grille as Gambhir flails desperately at it. Second one doesn't get up as high, and Gambhir far more comfortable this time as he pulls it behind square for four.Panesar takes the new ball. This is good. There are immediately three men on the boundary for Sehwag, and no silly point. This is less so. Sehwag gets a single, and there are now three men rather than two round the bat with Gambhir on strike. Just shows how reputation and intent can make things easier for you. Gambhir nicely off the mark as Panesar drops a touch short, punching the ball through point against the spin off the back foot. Adds a single with a nurdle round the corner.Good maiden over from Anderson to Gambhir to start this Crucial Session.The end of England's innings will bring the tea interval. Yet another crucial session coming up. If India can wipe out this deficit without too much damage, they once again go big favourites for the match. England lost their last four wickets for seven runs in 13 balls. Yet another short period whose importance may be pointed at in the final analysis.Panesar slog-sweeps Ashwin for four. Two men go back. Monty tries the shot again, and picks out Zaheer. Not the brightest bit of batting. England would've taken this score at the start of the innings, but probably not at 357/4. It's a lead of 86 very useful runs, but it really should've been more.Would've been umpire's call on the lbw apparently. Don't think a top-order player would've been given. Monty Panesar is England's last man.England have lost four wickets for 26 runs. They've failed, it's fair to say, to fully capitalise on a position of huge strength. Anderson in and then out in quick time as he's rather harshly given out lbw playing back to Harbhajan. Looked high to me.England won't get the lead they wanted. Having played a leading role in the comedy run out of Prior, Broad himself has gone now propping forward to Harbhajan and popping the ball up to silly point where Pujara dives forward and does superbly to get his fingers underneath the ball and complete the catch.Graeme Swann sees out the over. Looks like Broad sold Prior a bit of a dummy with the run out, initially calling for it and then changing his mind. Not had a great game.A stupid way to lose a key wicket as Prior defends on the offside and belatedly looks for a single that's just not on. Broad sends him back, but even with a full-length dive Prior is short of his ground and England are seven down.Maiden over from Harbhajan to Prior, who attempts a reverse-sweep that achieves nothing other than leave Dhoni with a painful bang on the chest behind the stumps off the top edge.Good over for England, with a few singles to go with two for Broad on the sweep. Chance! Almost ends badly, though, as Broad lunges forward in defence and gets in inside edge onto pad but turns his head to see the ball lobbing away behind square and out of short-leg's reach.Few number sevens you'd rather have in this situation than Matt Prior. So dangerous. He sweeps the returning Harbhajan behind square for four and adds a single from the last ball of the over to bring up England's 400.Excellent over from Ashwin to Broad, ending with a genuine edge that somehow dies and bounces well short of slip despite hitting somewhere near the shoulder of the bat.Lovely shot from Prior, back-cutting Ojha well behind point to take the sweeper out of the equation and pick up four. A defensive push into the covers brings an easy single, and Broad adds another with a strong sweep to deep square-leg. The lead climbs to 68.Pitch doing absolutely all sorts now. Ashwin sends the ball fizzing between Broad's bat and pads, over the bails, past Dhoni's gloves and away for four byes. We'll take 'em. Two singles to end the over. England would love to get this lead well into three figures, and they do still have the firepower to do so.Stuart Broad in at number eight. Unconvincingly he survives the rest of the over, adding a leg-bye to the mix from the final ball.No double-century for Pietersen as a quite brilliant innings comes to an end and Ojha collects his fifth wicket as reward for marathon effort. Not the best ball to take such a big wicket, wide of the off stump and nicked through to the keeper by Pietersen as he tries to slap it through the covers. Doesn't really count for the "problems against left-arm spin" files when he's got 186 to his name, does it?Twelve runs from the first over after drinks as England's lead goes past 50. It is now definitely a Handy Lead. England need it to become a Substantial Lead. After Pietersen picks up five runs from the first three balls of the over, Prior drills his first boundary down the ground before flicking the ball in the air but finding safety at square-leg for two more. A single keeps the England keeper on strike.Two contrasting sweeps from Pietersen bring 10 more runs, the first smashed dismissively over the fielder at deep square-leg for six, the second top-edged over Dhoni's head for four. The man on the 45 had moved squarer after the six, and Pietersen was just looking to paddle the ball into the gap that had been created. A slap-drive to deep cover brings a single from the last ball of Ojha's over to take us to drinksIt has been a curiousity of this pitch that it can appear quite placid for long periods but then, seemingly at random, burst back to life and start spinning and bouncing alarmingly. Happened a few times during the India innings and is certainly happening right now. Doesn't seem to be any common factor such as age of ball or identity of bowler. Most odd, but undeniably entertaining.The in-form Matt Prior in at number six and immediately beaten by a replica of the ball that dismissed Patel but this time passes the outside edge.Good ball this to see off Patel, who has been defending almost exclusively off the back foot but is drawn forward here and edges to Virat Kohli in the gully. The ball does seem to have been spinning more sharply in the last few overs as this pitch continues its apparent policy off going quiet for long periods and then seemingly at random coming back to life in dramatic fashion.Patel takes England past 350 in pleasing style with a cover-driven four off Ashwin and adds an altogether streakier boundary off the last ball of the over with an inside edge that flies away fine of leg stlip. The lead climbs to 29. Meanwhile, in the commentary box, David Gower is trying to play down the poshness of his trip to Twickers for the rugger yesterday. This includes the revelation that he was wearing a "sailing shirt". Essex boy Nasser Hussain unimpressed.Shot from Pietersen! Full, wide delivery from Ojha, and England's number four has just absolutely smashed it over extra-cover for six. Ojha lands a couple of blows later in the over, though, spinning the ball past the edge as Pietersen goes back to that unsuccessful curtain-rail defensive shot that's not been seen much since Ahmedabad.Pietersen given a slightly iffy leg-bye after hiding the bat and kicking the ball away. Not sure he played a shot at that. Patel goes right back on his stumps to work the ball behind square for an easy two.Patel plays out a maiden from Ojha.Ashwin replaces Zaheer. England going along nicely here, Helmetgate aside. Pietersen gets past 158, which is something of a problem number for him. Three times he's fallen for 158 in Test cricket, a problem I'm sure we'd all like to have.Lovely shot from Patel brings four runs as he flicks the balls off hie toes past square-leg. Good response from Ojha, though: a perfectly pitched delivery that has Patel initially looking to play forward before then trying to defend off the back foot and being beaten by the turn.Mike Atherton, our man in Mumbai, on Helmetgate and the efforts of Cook and KP: "Don't know that England tried to get it reversed but it appeared that the umpires had a word with Dhoni who then discussed it with his team. Rightly, I think, they decided to let things stand. The fault, if there is a fault, lies with the batsman who if he was certain the ball had hit the grille could have alerted the umpires, who could then have asked the third umpire for evidence. Cook and Pietersen superb, amongst the very best batting I've seen from England players. Big session this one as England will want 150 lead minimum."A Pietersen single takes England into credit. Every run from here so, so important: it's a run they won't have to get batting last when things are liable to somewhat trickier than they are currently.Pietersen reaches 150 in even more impressive style than his 100, smacking a four through point to reach 149 and then a huge six over midwicket to go to 155. Another single at the end of Ojha's over brings the scores level.Still think it's a ruddy cheek if England tried to get India to reinstate Bairstow. Why on earth should they?Quiet over in the middle, which gives everyone the chance to focus on more important matters. Helmetgate rumbles on. People to blame so far: Bairstow, on-field umpires, third umpire, Gambhir. Any more?MIke Atherton reveals that the umpires asked Dhoni and India to reconsider the decision. Which seems ludicrous; can't see that it's Dhoni's decision to put right a poor decision.Patel off the mark with a maximum as a top-edged pull off Zaheer sails way over the ropes at fine-leg, before a controlled outside edge runs away behind point for four more.Pietersen doesn't seem fazed by the controversy, casually slog-sweeping Ojha to the midwicket boundary. Slog-sweep isn't quite the right description. It was more of an ice hockey slap shot.Lovely bit of controversy, though. Always good. Thoughts? Dave.Tickner@bskyb.com is the place to send them.Seems there was serious talk of Bairstow being allowed to continue. I think the right decision has been made. The initial decision may have been wrong, but if we start arbitrarily overturning those sorts of errors we head down a dangerous road. Why wasn't India's innings allowed to continue after replays during the innings break showed Zaheer was not out? Bairstow could've stood his ground at the time. He didn't. He accepted the decision and that's that. Didn't know the laws. A lesson learned. Zaheer bowling rather than continuing his 220 not out which he would surely be were it not for being sawn off yesterday.Wonder how close we came to a batsman being reinstated at the interval like Ian Bell was at Trent Bridge last year? Anyway, Samit Patel joins Pietersen in the middle as Ojha concludes the over interrupted by that Bairstow dismissal.Just seen a different replay of that Bairstow dismissal. This one is conclusive. Hit the helmet. Clearly hit the helmet. Umpires could've gone to the third umpire for clarification, but chose not to.There's a suggestion that the ball may have hit the grille of Gambhir's helmet when he took the catch to remove Bairstow. That would mean it should have been a dead ball and not out, but replays are pretty inconclusive. The man who would've had the best view would've been Bairstow himself. Does he know the law?Still an excellent session for England despite that late setback; 120 runs have reduced the deficit to a mere 29 and the tourists will be looking to Pietersen, Patel, Prior and the tail to deliver the sort of lead that makes the fourth innings a less scary prospect.Great catch from Gambhir at silly point. Bairstow looks to work to leg against the spin and gets a leading edge that Gambhir grabs to his chest. Went quickly, straight off the bat, and took really sharp work to cling on. Poor shot from Bairstow, though, in the final over before lunch.Pie chucker Yuvraj chucks a pie. It's wide long-hop flavour, and Pietersen hungrily gobbles it up. By which I mean he whacked it for four. That's enough pie analogy, I tihnk.Rather more convincing boundary for BairsMo this time. It's the carrom ball from Ashwin and the extra pace initially threatens to deceive Bairstow, but he gets into a solid position and uses his excellent hands to ping a drive past the despairing left hand of mid-off for four.Surprise short ball from Zaheer to Bairstow, who's been camping on the front dog in his short innings to date. Bairstow swats at it - it would be generous to call it a hook - and gets a top edge that sails over the keeper's head, bounces once, and then goes clean through the advertising hoarding and almost takes out a cameraman.Pietersen picks up a single to long-off as Ojha replaces Ashwin before a shovel to midwicket gets Bairstow off the mark. Pietersen slices a drive to mid-off, but with the man back on the rope it's perfectly safe and he jogs through for a single.A pattern developing. Pietersen picks up a single, Bairstow sees out the over. Line's wrong from Zaheer to the new batsman with the new ball, bowling well outside the off stump. Bairstow quite rightly not interested in playing out there at this stage of his innings.Ashwin stays on with the new ball. Pietersen sweeps him hard to long-leg for a single, and the Moustache sees out the over without much fuss. Another Cook stat: he has scored more runs before the age of 28 than anyone else in the history of Test cricket. Hundred-odd runs ahead of some dude called Sachin. It's a pointer to just how ridiculous Cook's final figures could be in Test cricket. He doesn't get injured, captaincy doesn't seem to be slowing him down (the opposite in fact); it's perfectly feasible that he's not yet reached the midway point of his Test career.New ball taken at the fall of the wicket. Zaheer Khan into the attack. The first delivery with the new cherry swings, but starts too straight and is casually flicked away to the fine-leg boundary by Pietersen. A defensive push to cover brings Pietersen a single to bring Bairstow's Moustache on strike for the first time. Probably not too disappointed to be facing the seamer first up to be honest. I'd have taken the new ball earlier, but not sure I'd have gone straight to it against the new batsman. Were Indian brains simply scrambled by the tache, one wonders. It is a magnificent, awe-inspiring sight.Really good ball that from Ashwin. Jonny Bairstow's Moustache joins Pietersen in the middle. Won't be on strike just yet, with that wicket falling to the final ball of Ashwin's 31st over of the innings.Cook finally removed. A glorious cover-drive brings him four more runs before Ashwin gets one to spin away off a good length and flick the edge of the bat on its way through to Dhoni. Boy did India need that breakthrough. It didn't look like coming.Pietersen cuts Yuvraj through point for two runs to bring up the 200 partnership. It really has been a stand of astonishing quality. They really are an ideal batting combination. Pietersen keeps the strike with an easy single down the ground.Pietersen goes past Cook. An astonishing act of insolence showing a lack of respect for the skipper. Surely he must be banned for a couple of Test matches and forced to undergo a period of reintegration.If Yuvraj Singh dismisses Pietersen for a hundred and plenty, is it still evidence of left-arm demons? Could find out. The pie-chucker is on. He gets away with some chucked pies, Pietersen crunching them to fielders, but eventually a pie is placed into a gap for a single. Mind you, an over that costs only one run is about as good as things have got for India today.India close to the sin of Going Through The Motions here. They're quiet, fielders are sauntering, bowlers look bereft of ideas and all the while Cook and Pietersen are just knocking the ball around the field for easy singles punctuated by the occasional boundary.I'm so English. Just cannot silence the voice in my head that keeps saying "this could all go belly up really quickly, you know". Quiet down, head-voice. "Bairstow's in next." QUIET DOWN.When Pietersen bats like this, you could forgive him just about anything. Effortlessly, nonchalantly, arrogantly he plonks his foot down the ground to Ashwin and deposits the ball over the ropes at long-off. England scream past 250. Pietersen's almost caught Cook. Drinks after a historic first hour in Mumbai and one that has been all England. They've scored 78/0 from 16 overs and trail by just 71.None of his bowlers are giving Dhoni any control here this morning. Can't stop the singles and boundaries coming quite freely too. New ball available now and, after what's happened this morning, he might as well take it. Can't go worse.Four more for Cook as he strokes a glorious cover-drive to the boundary as Ojha overpitches and offers width. Cook initially appeared to be shaping up to sweep until the length and width convinced him to drive. Good choice. England have added 66 runs in 14 overs this morning.Hammond, Cowdrey, Boycott, Cook... Pietersen. KP joins Cook on 22 Test hundreds in audacious fashion with a reverse-sweep for four off Harbhajan. By his standards a subdued celebration; not the big lap of honour and fist pump, but a wide grin and a wave of the bat to the dressing room followed by an embrace from his captain. Reintegration: complete.Four singles easily picked off as the spinners continue to struggle with keeping England tied down this morning. Runs coming too easily for MS Dhoni's liking.Hammond, Cowdrey, Boycott... Cook. A cover-drive off Harbhajan Singh's first ball of the day pierces the field - brought up to cut off the single - and races away to the boundary as Cook scores his 22nd Test century in his 85th match. That's the same number as Hammond and significantly fewer than the other two chancers at the top of that list. It's also Cook's fourth century in four Tests as captain. Cook adds a single before Pietersen sweeps hard to long-leg for four more to reach 95.Cook nurdles his way to 99 before KP Dilscoops Ashwin to fine-leg for a couple of runs. Not sure about the risk-reward balance in that shot; Twitter would've gone into meltdown if he'd got out playing, that's for sure. More orthodox aggression now from Pietersen, thrashing a carrom ball through the covers for four. Not that far away from cover, and it was in the air, but there was no catching that. Another drive brings two to take this partnership past 150 and Pietersen into the 90s. In well over a hundred years of Test cricket only three England players have scored 22 hundreds. There could be two more in the next few minutes.India's spinners haven't quite hit their lines and lengths this morning. Ojha drags one down to Pietersen who crunches it through cover off the back foot for four before steering the next ball out to deep point for a single. Cook moves to 97 with a shimmy down the pitch and flick through midwicket. He keeps the strike with a sweep to deep square-leg that takes him to 98.Big but optimistic lbw appeal against Cook from Ashwin, hitting the England captain in front of leg with a delivery that didn't straighten enough and would've probably just clipped a fourth stump. Tony Hill not interested. Another cut shot to the sweeper takes Cook within five runs of a century that would take him joint top of England's all-time list in Test cricket. Pietersen 22 runs away from the same achievement.Interesting split-screen from the host broadcaster comparing Pietersen's set-up in these first two Tests. He's standing noticeably taller at the crease here compared to the crouched stance he was adopting in Ahmedabad. Working as well, as he skips down the ground and casually chips Ojha over mid-on for four to bring up England's 200.Does Cook score more runs with the cut or the nurdle? Someone will have to study all the footage and come up with the answer. Get to it, boffins. Anyway, it's the cut shot that takes him to 94 as he places the ball in front of square to give the point sweeper some yards to cover. Cook shows good judgement to let a couple pass pretty close to his off stump, but Ashwin's line still in general a fraction wide from round the wicket to a well-set batsman.Cook sweeps Ojha to deep square-leg for a single. Ajinkya Rahane is still sub-fielding for Pujara at short-leg, by the way. Wall II still nursing some sore ribs after Cook cleaned him up with a slog-sweep yesterday.Let us know your thoughts on the Mumbai action. Mails to Dave.Tickner@bskyb.com please.Turn and bounce for Ashwin, but he's starting the ball too wide of off stump and Cook isn't interested in playing out there. A legside nurdle as Ashwin straightens the line too much allows Cook to keep the strike.Ojha finds both Pietersen's edges, but the result is four runs as an outside edge slides past gully for two before a tight single after an inside edge into the legside turns into two thanks to a wild throw. Decent throw would have had Cook in trouble.R Ashwin shares the early-morning bowling duties, and serves up some early-morning filth. A couple of short balls are cut away by Cook to bring him a total of three runs and take him into the 90s before a delivery fired down the legside is swept for four by Pietersen. Ashwin reverts to the wide long-hop, and Pietersen cracks it away for two through cover and then helps himself to a single down the ground.Ojha starts with a maiden to Pietersen, the last ball bouncing and spinning past the outside edge.Cook and Pietersen out in the middle. Pragyan Ojha to bowl the first over.While we're in stat mode, how about this one from the stat king himself, Benedict Bermange: Alastair Cook has now been involved in more Test century stands than any other Englishman. This alliance with Pietersen is his 48th, taking him ahead of Geoffrey Boycott and his trusty stick o' rhubarb.Another stat: that's the most maths I've ever done before 4am.Two men have dominated this series with the bat, and the sheer amount of time Che Pujara and Cook have spent in the middle is staggering. Pujara has been in the middle for 259.1 of the 290.4 overs India have batted in this series; Cook 246.1 (and counting) of England's 293.5 overs. That's 505.2 out of 584.3 overs - a smidge under 87 per cent of this series - during which one of these two machines has been at the crease. At least Cook kindly gave Pujara some time off the field yesterday by whacking the ball into his back at short-leg. Thoughtful.Morning all. Day three in Mumbai, and what a Test match we've got on our hands here. Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen batted beautifully yesterday to put England in a promising yet still fragile position on 178/2, behind by 149. The evidence of the first two days suggests batting is at its most difficult in the morning session and gets gradually easier as the day progresses. So what does that mean? You guessed it: this morning session is crucial, like all the best morning sessions should be.