India beat England by nine wickets in their series-opening cricket Test in Ahmedabad to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match contest.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who made an unbeaten 206 in India’s first innings batting at No. 3, was promoted to open and hit 41 not out to help India reach the 77-run target off 15.3 overs after lunch on the final day. England was earlier dismissed for 406 in its second innings.
“The ball was hard and it was coming nicely onto the bat,” said Pujara, who was named man of match after making 247 runs without being dismissed. “Obviously I had a lot of confidence after scoring a double hundred. I was quite positive and I was sighting the ball well.”
India made 521-8 declared batting first before bowling England out for 191 and enforcing the follow-on to try and wrap up the victory without having to bat again. England captain Alastair Cook scored 176 and Matt Prior made 91 as the touring team took the match into a fifth day.
England started the final day on 340-5, 10 runs ahead of the hosts, but lost Cook and Prior in the first hour.
“It was a great fightback, we were in a really tough situation,” said Cook, playing his first match as England Test captain since being appointed on a permanent basis. “To get it to the last day, there’s always a glimmer of hope with five down and it had to be something very special. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be today but we fought hard and we can take a lot from the second half of this game with our batting.”
The second Test in Mumbai starts Nov. 23, with matches in Kolkata and Nagpur to follow. England, which secured a 4-0 sweep when the teams met in the U.K. last year, hasn’t won a Test series in India since its 1984-85 tour.