sport

Cook and KP give England hope

England battled hard to post a first-innings score of 257 for seven in the crucial fourth one-day international against India.

The tourists, who need a win to stay in the series, lost the toss and were inserted in tricky conditions, but dug in to give their bowlers something defendable.

Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen both made 76, the former cut off by a risible lbw decision, and Joe Root confirmed his rising-star status with 57 not out in 45 balls as England added 101 in the the last 10 overs.

England started the day by dropping wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter in favour of Jos Buttler, who made 14 in nine balls late in the innings.

Everything about the conditions at the start of play, from the overhead fog to the tinge of green on the wicket, suggested assistance for the bowlers.

And so it proved in the opening exchanges, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed indulging in some old fashioned seam bowling with the new balls.

The first five overs cost just 12 runs, including one Cook boundary, and saw both pacemen beat the outside edge.

Ian Bell also survived a strong lbw appeal from Kumar but Cook looked in decent touch.

He kickstarted the innings with three boundaries off Ahmed's third over, with Bell briefly following his lead with two of his own against Kumar.

But it was not his day and he fell in ugly fashion, charging Ishant Sharma and spoonfeeding a thick edge down third man's throat.

Pietersen was in at three and endured a rocky start at the hands of Sharma.

Pietersen was struck on the arm after just three balls and was then rapped on the pads by a fuller ball.

Sharma's appeal was long and loud but Sudhir Asnani favoured the batsman in a marginal call.

With Sharma showing great control, it took Pietersen 13 balls to get off the mark and after 22 deliveries he had only two runs.

But Cook was doing enough at the other end to prevent stagnation and Pietersen slowly started to work the ball around as England settled for steady accumulation.

Cook's 50 came in 74 balls, with nine fours, and he quickly added a couple more as spinner Ravichandran Ashwin strayed.

Pietersen also struck Ashwin for a straight four and was gifted a second by Sharma's mis-field as England reached 97 for one at the halfway stage.

England were dealing predominantly in singles against Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, with India allowing them to do so as a feeling of mutual caution set in.

It took a poor decision from Asnani to break change things, Cook given lbw for 76 to a ball pitching well outside leg.

The platform should have suited England's middle order, but instead India took advantage of their good fortune, aided by some slack batting.

Eoin Morgan (three) and Samit Patel (one) played desperate shots, Morgan chipping Ashwin to long-on off the leading edge and Patel easing a return catch to Jadeja after a torrid 10-minute stay.

Joe Root almost followed for a duck, but was dropped at slip to deny Sharma.

In total, England's batting powerplay yielded a paltry 19 runs.

The last 10 overs needed to big for for the tourists to stand a chance and they duly delivered.

After an edge took Pietersen past 50 in 84 balls, he moved up a gear, striking four more boundaries and one towering six off Sharma to move swiftly to 76.

Sharma replied by bowling Pietersen with a yorker.

Root played fluently at the other end, scoring at around a run a ball before swatting Ashwin for six and cutting him for four more.

He was dropped, dreadfully, by Suresh Raina on 42 but was unfazed, flicking Sharma over his shoulder on his way to a maiden half-century.

Buttler, on his second ODI appearance, shone briefly, scoring six and four as he made 14 in nine balls.