Birmingham: Even at the best of times batting is a matter of chance. Every stroke carries the prospect of dismissal. A half-volley can be dragged onto the stumps and a long hop can land in the hands of an outfielder. Batting involves constantly balancing risk and opportunity, and the assessment of risk varies from batsman to batsman. Alastair Cook hit only three boundaries in the first two sessions of the third day at Edgbaston, but he ended with 294 runs. Virender Sehwag aimed to cream the first ball he received through the covers and ended with his second golden duck of the match.
Cook began the day with England leading India by 232 runs with seven wickets in hand; Sehwag took guard with India needing to score 486 to avoid innings defeat. When Cook's innings ended, ironically with a forcing shot, he had batted over 13 hours; Sehwag lasted only eight minutes over both innings. Barring a miracle, or a washout, England will win.
Rewind to December 2008 in Chennai. Andrew Strauss, Cook's opening partner, scored 123 and 108, batting for more than 12 hours in the Test. Sehwag played a leaden-footed drive in the first innings to be bowled for 9, but two hours of extraordinary hitting from him in the final session on the fourth day set India on the road to an improbable chase. His 68-ball 83 was good enough to earn him the Man-of-the-Match award. It was the defining innings of the Test.