India, Eng Lions match abandoned

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The warm-up match between India and England Lions at the Northamptonshire County Club ground on Saturday was abandoned due to heavy rain.

Updated: August 22, 2007 07:35 IST
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The warm-up match between India and England Lions at the Northamptonshire County Club ground on Saturday was abandoned due to heavy rain.

Chasing a victory target of 297, India were 32 without loss in 6.5 overs when rain stopped play and players went off the field.

Earlier in the day, sparkling half-centuries by Vikram Solanki and Luke Wright powered England Lions to an impressive 296 for 8 from their allotted 50 overs.

Wright's hurricane innings (56) and a responsible knock by captain Vikram Solanki (60) had given England Lions a good start before the Indians spinners cast a magic web to peg back the hosts.

Off-spinner Ramesh Powar and leggie Piyush Chawla combined effectively, bowling in tandem as they derailed the England Lions after Wright had given them a blazing start.

The spin pair conceded 104 runs for their 20 overs collectively prizing out four wickets between themselves.

That effectively put the brakes on the Lions' scoring as they slipped from 108 for 1 in the 18th over to 149 for 5 in the 25th over.

However, Ravi Bopara (37) and Paul Nixon (39) did a good rescue job, adding 77 runs for the sixth wicket before Chris Schofield (35) and Tim Bresnan (32 not out) provided the necessary fireworks at the death scoring 61 runs in seven overs for the seventh wicket to boost their tally.

Both Zaheer Khan (7-0-57-0) and Munaf Patel (9-0-60-1) were off-colour, while Powar did well to claim 3 for 52 from his 10 overs.

Earlier, after Mahendra Singh Dhoni called correctly in his first match as India captain, Ajit Agarkar gave his side a perfect start removing Darren Maddy (6) as early as in the fourth over of the innings. But once Wright came to the wicket he made light work of the Indian bowling.

Wright shines

The tall right-hander from Sussex played some exciting strokes all round the park to dominate a second wicket stand of 96 runs off 81 balls with Solanki as England Lions motored along at six runs per over till the 25-over mark.

The 22-year old Wright signalled his arrival driving an unimpressive Zaheer Khan through the covers and pulling another short one for two boundaries in the first over he faced. He continued his onslaught smashing Munaf for three consecutive boundaries in the bowler's first over before hooking Agarkar for a six over fine leg.

Wright reached his 50 helping a full toss from Piyush Chawla to the mid-wicket fence. It took him just 34 balls in which he struck 8 fours and a six.

Just when England Lions looked like running away with the game, Powar changed the course of the game with an impressive spell of bowling.

He removed the dangerous Wright in his first over as the batsman tried to flick one off his legs and the ball came off the face off his bat for Dhoni to take a one-handed catch.

Once Wright was dismissed in the 18th over, the Indians immediately seized the initiative claiming four wickets for 41 runs in 7.4 overs to reduce England to 149 for 5 in the 25th over.

Solanki was a bit subdued at the start as he watched Wright take the attack to the bowlers. But two fours off a Zaheer over kept him going.

Another pull off a hapless Munaf and a lovely cover drive off Powar were fine shots too as the Lions captain brought up his 50 in the 20th over of the innings. It took him 54 balls and he hit 4 fours.

Minor hiccups

Solanki then opened up his shoulders taking the aerial route against Chawla depositing him to the boundary at long-off before having a lucky escape off the very next ball when his outside edge clipped Dhoni's glove on way to the third man fence.

However, the Indians got him out of the way quickly when Chawla deceived him with a googly that trapped him leg before for 60. He faced 65 balls and hit 4 fours.

Ian Bell (21) looked to be in great hurry, hitting Powar over mid-on and extra cover for two consecutive fours as Powar tossed the ball up to him. To his credit, the spinner displayed a big heart in again tossing up the next one that lured Bell to play a false stroke that landed safely into the hands of Agarkar at deep mid-wicket.

In his next over, Powar picked up his third wicket on a trot when he had Owais Shah out leg before for just 1.

It was the left to Bopara and Nixon to put the innings back on rails. After Nixon has reverse swept Chawla to the boundary, the pair cut out all the fancy shots and kept the scoreboard moving in ones and twos.

They put on a crucial 77-runs for the sixth wicket in 14.4 overs at just under five runs per over before Nixon was smartly stumped by Dhoni off Yuvraj Singh attempting a reverse sweep in the 40th over.

Chris Schofield and Tim Bresnan then threw their bats around at the death taking a heavy toll of Zaheer to provide a perfect finish. Schofield scored 35 off 30 balls with 5 fours while Bresnan remained unbeaten on 32 off just 26 balls with 3 fours.

The Indians brought back Zaheer for this game giving a break to RP Singh while Dinesh Kaarthick and Rahul Dravid made way for Rohit Sharma and Sourav Ganguly.

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