Stuart Broad reduces India's advantage

For the first two sessions of an overcast day in Nottingham, India's fast bowlers dominated England's batsmen with swing and seam movement, bowling exceptional deliveries to reduce them to 124 for 8.

Updated: July 29, 2011 23:52 IST
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Nottingham: For the first two sessions of an overcast day in Nottingham, India's fast bowlers dominated England's batsmen with swing and seam movement, bowling exceptional deliveries to reduce them to 124 for 8. The end of England's innings, however, came much later than India wanted it to. Stuart Broad led a stirring counterattack after tea, and confronted by his aggression, India went to pieces. Their bowlers lost their successful lines and lengths, MS Dhoni deployed defensive fields, and the lethargic fielders were taken advantage of. The upshot was a 73-run partnership for the ninth wicket between Broad and Graeme Swann at 6.25 per over, which propped England up to 221.


The injection of adrenaline Broad had given England was continued by James Anderson, who struck with the first delivery of the Indian innings. Abhinav Mukund, having seen the ball jag around for nearly 69 overs, played a push-drive to one that swung away and watched Kevin Pietersen catch the outside edge at gully. It was left to Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, opening and batting at No. 3 because of Gautam Gambhir's absence, to show how it's done. They played late and with soft hands. Their bats were beaten and their bodies hit. They survived appeals and a review but, with a little luck, ensured India's advantage was not entirely lost. Broad bowled a menacing spell - 7-3-5-0 - but India ended the day with nine wickets intact, trailing by 197 runs.

On the day, India did not suffer from Zaheer Khan's unavailability as much as many thought they would. Zaheer's replacement, Sreesanth, bowled spells of perfectly pitched outswing, and he forged a formidable alliance with Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma, reducing England from 73 for 2 to 124 for 8.

England had been satisfactorily placed at lunch after MS Dhoni put them in. They had lost their marathon men - Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott - early but Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen, batting together in a Test for the first time since Perth in December, survived a testing second hour. Cook was lbw to Ishant an over after he survived a close shout against Praveen. Replays of the not-out decision indicated the ball would have hit the stumps, though a fraction of it pitched outside leg, while those of the out decision indicated it would have bounced over.

There was more lbw drama. Praveen hit Pietersen below the knee roll and appealed vociferously. Despite Pietersen's giant stride forward, replays indicated the bails would have fallen. Praveen argued with umpire Marais Erasmus and had to be ushered away by Harbhajan Singh.

It was between Cook's dismissal and the Pietersen appeal that Sreesanth made his entrance. Sreesanth doesn't enjoy bowling to left-handers - Strauss clipped his first ball for four - as much as he does to right-handers, and as soon as he had Jonathan Trott on strike, he found the edge to slip with an outswinger. England were 23 for 2 and Strauss and Pietersen performed a steadying act until lunch.

They couldn't continue after lunch, though. In the first over after the break, Sreesanth shortened his length to counter Pietersen's forward stride. Peitersen poked before trying to pull the bat away from the seaming ball and Raina, standing close at third slip, took the catch. Sreesanth's spell after lunch was 7-1-14-2.

While all the wickets so far had fallen to testing deliveries, Strauss went to one he should have left from Praveen. He drove away from his body and was caught at third slip for 32. Strauss's departure exposed England's weakest link, Eoin Morgan, who failed once again by falling lbw to Praveen for a duck. And when Matt Prior, India's tormentor at Lord's, edged the perfect outswinger to be caught at slip for 1, England were 88 for 6.

Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan, who replaced the injured Chris Tremlett, put on 29 for the seventh wicket. Dravid dropped Bell on 22 but he eventually went for 31, under-edging a cut off Ishant to Dhoni, after Bresnan had fallen for 11.

Resuming on 124 for 8 after tea, India's bowlers inexplicably abandoned the plans they used to dismiss England's top order. Instead of pitching full and seaming it away, they bowled a shorter length with wider lines, giving Broad and Swann space to play shots. Broad swung hard and connected cleanly. Some shots fell tantalisingly over fielders' heads. Others landed short. Swann too used a fearless approach to ambush India.

Abhinav had the opportunity to catch Swann at mid-off but he was slow in moving forward, perhaps because he was wearing shin pads in the outfield. The Indians scattered, leaving vast expanses unmanned, allowing runs if the ball touched bat or body. Suddenly, the old men were exposed. There was a single taken just wide of slip because Laxman was moving like a snail. It was an astounding turnaround.

The 50 partnership came in seven overs and the resistance had reached 73 in the 12th over when Praveen got a length ball to kick sharply at Swann, who gloved it to gully and was later taken for an x-ray There was only angry relief in the Indian camp. Their outstanding work in two sessions had unraveled spectacularly in an hour.

Broad steered England past 200 and reached his half-century off 56 balls. He was eventually caught on the deep midwicket boundary but his 64 had given England a fighting total in difficult batting conditions.

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