Friday, August 12, 2011

Edgbaston: England vs India Day One

If this really is a contest between the top two sides in test cricket right now, India have got a funny way of showing it!
Expectations were high as Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, the touring sides premier opening batsmen both returned from injury at a newly developed Edgbaston for the 3rd test of this series. However, as has tended to be the case so far this summer, India were again bowled out cheaply, for just 224. On a slow Edgbaston wicket, patience was the requisite virtue, a quality few of their batsmen were able to show.
Apart from Rahul Dravid, who to be fair got an absolute jaffer from Tim Bresnan, this was a story of India gifting their wickets away, unable to resist temptation and going after balls they really ought to have left the hell alone. Gambhir and Laxman both succumbed cheaply after promising starts, Gambhir going for one outside off and playing on, and Laxman hooking straight down long on’s throat.
That was after Sehwag had gloved his first ball to Matt Prior and Tendulkar had been caught at slip by his nemesis, Jimmy Anderson, both off the bowling of the in-form Stuart Broad. The finest batting line up in the world all back in the hutch for under 100. Funny old game.
England did well yesterday, but they didn’t have it all their own way. For the first hour, notwithstanding Sehwag’s departure, India were on top. It is a great quality England have developed that they are capable of winning a session even when their opponent is on top. Despite India’s good start they still went in for lunch 4 wickets down
The home side stuck to their task and managed to get wickets through patience and perseverance. They probed on a line just outside off stump and all too often the Indian batsmen couldn’t resist taking a swipe. When Tendulkar came in, Anderson returned to the bowling attack and the Little Master’s first stroke to him was an ugly flat batted swat that got nowhere near the ball – the Indian batsmen just don’t know how to play England’s bowlers.
MS Dhoni and Kumar showed more resolve, putting on a decent rear-guard stand to post some kind of total (yes, it could have been even worse then it was!) Dhoni in particular played some fantastic shots, bludgeoning the England attack for a while, but in the end their total is well short on what is actually a good pitch at this stage.
Starting today on 84-0, England will now look to bat all day today and most of tomorrow to put India out of the game. England made a habit in last years Ashes of scoring big and batting once, doubtless we will see the same plan employed here. It is therefore imperative that India’s bowling attack makes early inroads. Kumar has looked their best bowler so far this series, if he can get a couple early on, who knows?
One player who I really hope delivers if he gets the opportunity in this innings is Ravi Bopara. He’s had a lot of criticism since those 3 consecutive hundreds in the Caribbean 2 years ago, I hope that, if he gets a chance today (or tomorrow) he bats well and scores plenty, because he is a talent and he needs to start delivering at this level now.
If England win today as well, the ICC might as well issue their amended rankings at close of play tonight, because there will be no way back for India after that. They have to win today’s play; it’s as simple as that.
Tom Huelin for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomhue1

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