sport

Cook: England fought hard

Alastair Cook took comfort from England's character in the second innings despite slipping to a nine-wicket defeat in the first Test in India.

The chances of a brave rearguard being commuted into a famous stalemate in this first match of four centred on Cook (176) and Matt Prior (91) on the final day.

But they could augment their combined defiance by only 16 more runs this morning - and with their stand of 157 broken, England lost their last five wickets for only 50 in a lunchtime 406 all out.

India's resulting target of 77 was then treated with near contempt by Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara, whose aggression put paid to any fanciful notion that Graeme Swann's off-spin might yet make life difficult on a worn pitch.

Cook knew he and Prior had to remain at the crease if England were to pull off something special but he was pleased with his team's fight.

He said at the post-match presentation: "There was an outside chance: Matty and I knew we would have to do the majority of the work. We got closer and closer and knew India had done a huge amount of overs in the field as well.

"That was the inspiration this morning. It wasn't meant to be. We didn't get that partnership going as we did last night.

"There was a lot of character showed by the lads. They fought hard."

He added: "It was a great fightback. We were in a very tough situation and to get to the last day there is always a glimmer of hope.

"It had to be something very special - unfortunately it wasn't meant to be today.

"We fought hard - we can take a lot from the second half of that game with the batting. We need to work hard so when we go to Mumbai we can start again."

India counterpart MS Dhoni said: "As the game progressed there was a bit of low bounce for spinners but not much turn so they had to work really hard - it was a fantastic effort by them.

"What was important was not to give many runs.

"A fantastic performance by the whole team."

Pujara, who helped put India in a commanding position by scoring 206 not out in the first innings and then got the hosts over the line with an unbeaten second-innings knock of 41 today, was thrilled with his man-of-the-match display.

"It's a great feeling," he said at the post-match presentation, televised on Sky Sports 1.

"I was out for almost a year because of the injury and since I've been back I've been enjoying the dressing-room atmosphere.

"The ball was hard and coming nicely onto the bat. I had a lot of confidence after scoring a double hundred."

The 24-year-old also acknowledged the efforts of the India bowlers in dismissing England twice.

"I think initially (the pitch) was quite slow but as the game progressed the ball was coming nicely onto the bat," he said. "There was a bit of time when it was quite slow so it was difficult for the bowlers to get the wickets.

"I would like to congratulate our bowlers on the way they bowled and kept their patience to get them out twice."