AHMEDABAD, Nov 19: India broke through the stubborn England resistance with a morning burst of five wickets before surging to a comprehensive nine-wicket victory in the opening Test for a 1-0 lead in the four-match series here on Monday.
Needing 77 runs to record their first win at this venue in seven years on a crumbling and dusty pitch, India achieved the target when they made 80-1 in 15.3 overs after lunch on the fifth and final day.
Openers Virender Sehwag (25) and Cheteshwar Pujara (41 not out), who scored a double hundred in the huge first innings total of 521-8 declared, polished off the major part of the target by adding 57 in only 9.5 overs before Sehwag was brilliantly caught on the boundary by Kevin Pietersen off Graeme Swann.
Earlier, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha broke through England’s resolute batting by packing off overnight batsmen Matt Prior (91) and captain Alastair Cook (176) in 12 balls to virtually bring the visitors to their knees.
The two had kept England afloat on Sunday with a determined partnership which had helped the visitors avoid an innings defeat and had raised their hopes of even saving the game.
Ojha’s 2-18 burst in 11 overs was complimented by Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Zaheer Khan who grabbed a wicket each as England slumped from 356-5 to 406 all out in just over 16 overs.
Ojha, who grabbed 4-120 in the second innings to add to his haul of 5-45 in the first, emerged as the most successful bowler in this Test.
However, Pujara, who made an unbeaten 206 in the first essay and opened the innings in place of Gautam Gambhir who had to return to Delhi following his grandmother’s death, was named the Man-of-the-Match.
India had last won here in December 2005 with Sri Lanka being the losing side. This was also their fourth win here in 12 encounters and their fifth in the last six Tests played at home going back to last season’s triumphant series against the West Indies. In the last year’s series in England, India suffered a 4-0 whitewash.
The two teams will now proceed to Mumbai for the second Test at the Wankhede Stadium commencing on Friday, to be followed by the third and last Tests at Kolkata (Dec 5-9) and Nagpur (Dec 13-17).
England’s first innings collapse for 191 against Ojha and Ashwin was the root cause of their massive defeat though they fought back well through captain Alastair Cook who batted for a marathon 560 minutes spread over three days.
But once Ojha broke the partnership between Cook and Prior, the England resistance started dwindling and the captain’s dismissal virtually ended it though the last three wickets put on 41 runs.
The second Test begins at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai from Friday.—Agencies
INDIA (1st Innings) 521-8 declared (C.A. Pujara 206 not out, V. Sehwag 117, Yuvraj Singh 74, G. Gambhir 45; G.P. Swann 5-144). ENGLAND (1st Innings) 191 (M.J. Prior 48, A.N. Cook 41; P.P. Ojha 5-45, R. Ashwin 3-80). ENGLAND (2nd Innings, overnight 340-5): A.N. Cook b Ojha 176 N.R.D. Compton lbw b Zaheer 37 I.J.L. Trott c Dhoni b Ojha 17 K.P. Pietersen b Ojha 2 I.R. Bell lbw b Yadav 22 S.R. Patel lbw b Yadav 0 M.J. Prior c and b Ojha 91 T.T. Bresnan c sub b Zaheer 20 S.C.J. Broad c and b Yadav 3 G.P. Swann b Ashwin 17 J.M. Anderson not out 0 EXTRAS (B-14, LB-6, W-1) 21 TOTAL (all out, 154.3 overs) 406 FALL OF WKTS: 1-123, 2-156, 3-160, 4-199, 5-199, 6-356, 7-365, 8-378, 9-4-6. BOWLING: Yadav 23-2-70-3 (1w); Ojha 55-16-120-4; Ashwin 43-9-111-1; Sehwag 1-0-1-0; Zaheer Khan 27.3-5-59-2; Tendulkar 1-0-8-0; Yuvraj Singh 4-0-17-0. INDIA (2nd Innings): V. Sehwag c Pietersen b Swann 25 C.A. Pujara not out 41 V. Kohli not out 14
TOTAL (for one wkt, 15.3 overs) 80 FALL OF WKT: 1-57. BOWLING: Anderson 2-0-10-0; Swann 7.3-1-46-1; Patel 6-0-24-0. RESULT: India won by nine wickets. UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and A.L. Hill (New Zealand). TV UMPIRE: S. Asnani (India). MATCH REFEREE: R.S. Mahanama (Sri Lanka). MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Cheteshwar Pujara.