Alastair Cook disappointed as England run aground against India

Cook's endeavours, and those of Matt Prior too in a sixth-wicket stand of 157, could not paper over the cracks

Alastair Cook will leave Ahmedabad with a sense of crushing disappointment, even though it was the scene of one of his finest innings.

Cook's 176, compiled over nine-and-a-half hours and spread over three days as he tried so hard but in vain to save the first Test, will give him some satisfaction.

But as he reflected on his first match as England's permanent Test captain, he could not get away from the fact that his tour de force had come to nought in a nine-wicket defeat.

Cook's endeavours, and those of Matt Prior too in a sixth-wicket stand of 157, could not paper over the cracks created by others' deficiencies or erase the consequence of a 330-run first-innings deficit.

He acknowledged that truth, and spoke candidly about his own mixed feelings, after a match in which the most significant performances were Indian - Cheteshwar Pujara's double-century, a destructive hundred from Virender Sehwag and Pragyan Ojha's nine-wicket haul.

"I'm bitterly disappointed," said Cook, who had arrived with cautious hope on the final day that he and Prior could yet secure a stalemate.

"We had an outside chance this morning.

"Coming to the ground, we knew Matty and I would have to do the bulk of the work.

"But it can get easier and easier later on in the day, as the heat drains the bowlers, and those guys had been out there for a lot of overs.

"It was a very small chance, but it was one we could have taken."

Cook could hardly beat himself up, or Prior, for failing to overturn odds stacked against them.

"It wasn't today that cost us; it was that first innings.

"When you go to bed tonight, and you've scored a big hundred, you do smile and you can be proud.

"But I'd have been even prouder if I'd survived today and dragged a draw out of it.

"To score any hundred for England is very special. To score one in that situation probably made it even more special for me.

"But the result is what really matters ... and we weren't good enough over the five days."

England's biggest problem was a misfiring middle order in both innings.

"We showed a lot of character in that second half of the game," added Cook.

"But when you get bowled out for 190 in that first innings, on a good wicket, is pretty much where we lost that game.

"It was turning, yes. But runs were able to be had out there, as we showed in our second innings."

England's conundrum now is to pinpoint the reason for collective failure, and to find a solution before the second Test of four starts in Mumbai on Friday.

"I think we were ready for it; we were prepared for it; we just didn't deliver out in the middle," said the captain.

"You can look for reasons. Maybe we didn't trust our method as well as we could have done ... I don't know. You can analyse a lot into batting.

"The reason why we struggled in the game is our batting, especially in the first innings, didn't deliver enough runs.

"It proved in the second innings that we can score runs against this attack.

"We're just going to have to do it in both innings to give ourselves a chance of winning the game."

Cook's opposite number Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not appear surprised that England made the hosts work much harder for their wickets second time round.

"The odd ball turned, but there wasn't enough bounce for the edge to carry to the slip fielder," he said.

"It was about keeping one or two deliveries out, and you were set for the game.

"It was the last session on the second day and first session on the third day that really shifted the game in our favour."

Even this morning, when England resumed on 340 for five and just 10 runs in front, Dhoni sensed it might not be a simple task to complete the victory.

Yet in the end, after left-arm spinner Ojha had seen off both Prior and Cook in the first hour, India had to make only 77 to go 1-0 up - and did so in little more than 15 overs.

"What was important was to open up at least one end, so that we could create a false sense of panic," added Dhoni.

"We had to be calculating, and it paid off."

India can therefore aspire to an unassailable lead in Mumbai - whereas England cannot afford to under-perform again.

Cook knows that all too well.

"There are a lot of quality players in that dressing room, with very good records who have scored hundreds against every attack in the world," he said.

"They didn't deliver in this game, and they know that. The middle order didn't score enough runs.

"Everyone's got to have a look at themselves if we want to take something out of this series."

PA

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