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India vs England, Birmingham Test, Day 1

August 11, 2011

Morning doesn’t show the day always. And now it happens at the Edgbaston Birmingham. India has given it away once again after having gained the control over English bowling. The problems of the previous tests appear once again as a major problem here too. The main reason behind England have outplayed India here is that England have so much of depth in their batting order. Even when they were 124-8 at one stage in the previous test the likes of Broad and Swann came in to their rescue. This is a huge advantage that if the frontline batsmen fail the have the strength at #9 and #10 to get them out of the hole. But India on the other hand when lost their middle order in a quick succession people were hard to find who can hold the key from one end, or even if found, there was lack of support from the other end. No improvements here too. As a result India have their back at the wall and straight away on the backfoot.

Well, why morning doesn’t always show the day can be concluded from the fact that after have been invited to bat and losing Sehwag who got a golden duck in his return match, still they were looking very comfortable as Gambhir and in form Dravid put up a 51 runs partnership. But as soon as Gambhir departed it all started to look pretty good for England. India from 57-1 at one stage were made 111-7 and it made the difference.

Strauss won the toss and put India to bat first. From this pitch lot of grass were taken off last night and the day one pitch was looking like that It’s going to swing but the movements won’t be as much as the first two tests. This is a batsman’s pitch if you can see off the initial period. The pace won’t have been there and you got to bowl quite well if you don’t get early breakthroughs. Plus, this pitch may just break up in from the fourth day. And that’s why one would not like to chase here on day five. So from this prospective it took me on a little surprise that Strauss chose to bowl first. But what about Dhoni? He said that he would have fielded as well had he won the toss!

All the eyes were on Sehwag who has made a comeback after some time for his injury and the operation. But he disappointed everyone. Just went to show that he didn’t have the proper idea where his off stump was and didn’t trust the bounce, tried to get out of the way but ball took his gloves in the way through to the keeper. And it was the first ball he faced. Runs though were coming in a fluent manner as Gambhir was dealing in boundaries. He nicked a few but didn’t carry, or at times got through the slips and gully. But as long as runs keep coming they all count, so it did. He was scoring at a good rate and played some great drives on the up as well. Dravid on the other hand was quite happy to leave almost everything outside the off stump. Was looking quite solid here too.

Things were going all right for the Indians as they brought up a 50 runs stand for the 2nd wicket partnership until Gambhir dragged one back into his leg stump of Bresnan. The ball he should have played with the straight bat, he went for an expensive cover drive and got the inside edge. And the wickets start to tumble for India there after. Tendulkar played away from the body to a very ordinary Stuart Broad delivery. All he managed to do is to find Anderson in the 3rd slip. After that at the stroke of lunch Bresnan had produced a gem of an outswinger to get rid of Dravid who had nothing much to do with that. And what could have been 70-1 after the hard work made, was eventually 70 odd for the loss of 4 top orders.

After the lunch break in came Raina along with Laxman. The bowlers had a plan for Raina, he was pushed back and back with the short balls, and Raina having been dismissed to such deliveries also had that in his mind, and he was staying way back into his crease. The weight transfer from his backfoot to the front just didn’t happen and he was looking ugly against the full length balls, one of which did the trick by taking the middle stump of Raina. No feet movement again…

Now upto the last recognized batting pair, Laxman and Dhoni. Dhoni was initially trying to stick around for a while but Laxman on the other end was quite happy to put the bad balls away. But once again having been set he gave his wicket away with an absolute soft dismissal. Just don’t feel the essence of playing a pull shot when there is a specific deep square leg fielder for this particular shot. For any other player the fielder would have been much more finer, but for Laxman they placed him square and it worked. Mishra didn’t last too long.

At this point England were looking good to bowl India out within 150 but from here Dhoni took on. His 77 came in a good time and he had some assistance from the other end as Praveen scored a few. Dhoni was very positive most of the time, had been aggressive and thanks to him that India reached 224. Hope that it works as a good tonic for the team that the captain finally has some runs under his belt. Some of the techniques that he had applied were intelligent. Right from the word go he was coming down the track against the pacers to meet the length of the ball and not allowing the ball to move much.

Strauss shuffled his bowlers really very well. He kept them fresh everytime, giving a break after every 3-4 overs of a spell and the bowlers responded to their captain well. All the wickets were shared by the 3 seamers. Greame Swann didn’t have to do much of the bowling.

India could have gone thinking that it’s a good recovery and go to the field with much more enthusiasm. Although it is not a 224 pitch, specially when you have a decent first hour of play. It was the way of Indian batting that made look even ordinary balls of the English bowlers looking like good ones. Once again not too many wicket taking deliveries but India have paid the price of poor shot selection.

For the first time in the series that England have put an 84 runs in the opening partnership. They are still trailing by 140, but looking good to trouble the Indian bowlers in the next couple of day’s time with a such a huge depth in their batting. This is a slow pace track now, won’t have much help for the pacers. India needed atleast 320-330 in this pitch but they have fallen way too short from what could have been a decent total. For the same reason this will be the biggest challenge for India to overcome the frustration of not getting wickets, keep bowling a good line and more importantly the length. Because if the morning session slips from India’s hands the champions may well have to think of saying goodbye to the #1 ranking.

One Comment
  1. Arindam Dutta permalink

    Indians are not yet eligible for the no 1 position…………..because the no 1 team should be comfortable on any surface or condition………….even if they are not comfortable………they must adopt to the condition very quickly……….which is absent………..

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