The Highlights of India vs England - Nagpur test match.
For the straight 9th time at Nagpur, the captain winning the toss elected to bat . This time it was Andrew Flintoff luckier than Rahul Dravid and as expected, England played a very good first session. Playing the seam bowlers on Indian pitches was never going to be the problem to them and they made 82 for the loss of 2 wickets. At that stage, the game looked evenly poised..
Debutant Alastair Cook played a very matured innings. He was precise with which ball to leave and which ones to defend. Cook came straight into the England test team from Caribbean where he was playing for England A and was no short of match practice.
Then they lost two more wickets in the starting hour of second session, but again consolidated well with the help of Paul Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff, who surely looked more matured cricketer than he was last time, here in India. These two took England past 200 but then.... the unexpected happened - Irfan Pathan with reverse swing!! People talk about playing spinners on Indian wickets, but reverse swing is also a speciality of the sub continent. And quite often, scare of spinners becomes a easy work of pacers..
England slipped to 246 for 7 at the end of day 1 after playing not bad cricket at all. The only problem I can find was lack of aggression. They seemed determined and well prepared to defend and occupy the crease for a long time, but missed the trick by scoring runs. After batting for 90 overs on Indian wicket, they should have scored at least 320 runs and have had a better nights sleep.
End of Day 1 - England 246 for 7. Paul Collingwood 53 no. and Matthew Hoggard 5 no.
England corrected themselves by making sure that runs are made as long as they occupy the wickets and that paid a rich dividend for them. Paul Collingwood cashed on the spinner as he hit 4 sixes in his 134. The best thing he did was he hit the spinners straight - long on and long off and I must mention the way Steve Harmison batted. He made 39 off just 42 balls and looked very comfortable while countering the Indian spinners..
Harmison has a height of 6 foot 4 inches and he took long strides to negotiate any spin that Harbhajan and Kumble were extracting off Nagpur wicket.. And then even Monty Panesar blocked 43 balls for his 9 runs - giving very good support to Collingwood.. all in all, a more than expected first Innings total for England..
England's first Innings Score Card at Nagpur, 2006 series.
India's first innings :-
393 is not a score that India will be too bothered about, specially when they are playing at home. They wickets tend to go flat on the second and third day of a test match here and with the batting line up they have, I can always hope to take a substantial lead from England. But for that, the run machine - Virendra Sehwag needed to fire, which wasn't the case. He was out off the 17th ball of the innings, having made only 2 runs...
Then it was the same old boring batting from Rahul Dravid. He batted for overs after overs, but hardly tried to make any run. It was like he was trying to frustrate the England bowlers when they also hoped the vice versa for him. In the end, it was Wasim Jaffer who made a mark - playing his first test after 4 years... Wasim played some very handsome shots off his hips and England bowlers seemed to have no clue where to bowl him. He was particularly good at leaving the balls out side his off stumps. A typical openers innings to say the least..
End of Day 2 - India 136 for 1. Wasim Jaffer 73 no. and Rahul Dravid 40 no.
All the good work that Dravid and Jaffer had done in the late hours of the second day, they themselves spoiled it by getting out in the starting half hour. Then Laxman followed and then Tendulkar. And then Mahendra Singh Dhoni - Playing a drive very early in his innings. Result - India 190 for 7.
India's situation was very much the same as England had when they started the second day - A set recognise batsman and a tail ender. And what happened after that was also very similar. Kaif and Kumble made sure that they don't loose any more wickets, no matter if they don't make any runs..
They scored at a rate of 2.29, but their partnership of 128 runs meant that India were back in the game. Then came the bowl of the match - from Monty Panesar - The ball drifted in the air from off, pitched on the line of off stump and spun to hit the top of off stump. A brilliant ball to get rid of "very patient" Mohammad Kaif. This dismissal was one that would have made any left arm spinner proud. Monty was estatic..
At the end of the day, India were left with just no. 10 and jack to make whatever they can in the morning..England were left with a lead of 71 runs.. with one more wicket to take.. At this moment, England were looking good, and certainly had the upper hand.
No surpirses for the Indian cricket lovers as Sreesanth got his pads in front of a delivery from "pegging" Hoggard and he was out with just one more run added to over night score. Here is the Indian score card..
England's Second Innings :-
A very confident one to say the least. Alastair Cook, the late replacement again played a heavly matured innings, and this time he went on to make his debut even more memorable by completing century. On the other side, Kevin Pietersen played some shots that gave bad feeling about the coming ODI series from an Indian perspective. Pietersen is a huge man and he uses his height for good effect. He also backs himself, and after being unlucky in the first innings, he played a good innings in the second essay.
England couldn't really accelerated their innings, as the day closed a little too early. After Cook's century, Collingwood did try to make some quick runs, but in the end, they were left with a lead of 367 runs at the end of Day 4..
England's score card.
England must have been confused but they took the brave decision to declare at over night score and try to bowl out India. This was a great achievement for Andrew Flintoff, who in his first test match, with a team no one over the age of 30, had the upper hand as the last day of this Nagpur test started..
It was a sunday, and to start with, it proved to be a very dissappointed for the Indian fans. Waking up in the monring, hoping that Indian will do something miraculous with the target of 368 in 90 overs was little too much to ask.. Rahul Dravid and Wasim Jaffer, the two most correct batsmen in the Indian batting lineup played the game that our perents used to - and at Tea time, when round about 35 overs were remaining for the day - India were 156 for the loss of just one wicket..
It will always be a mystry that what kind of talk did Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid had during Tea Break in this Nagpur test, they came out to defend a little more. As the day went on, and fans started to leave the Nagpur ground, Indian kick off the chase.
It was dravid, who strainght after the drinks break, started playing reverse sweep and the conventional one to make some quick runs. He was bowled by Monty Panesar of the third ball of that over - then out came Irfan Pathan. He made 35 off 25 balls with 4 fours and a six. At that time, this Nagpur test took a turn in its story that no body expected..
Wasim completed his century and then tried to play like a One day batsmen - which he isn't. He also was very tired, so it was good that he got out at 100 exactly. Then it was latest heartrobe Mahendra Singh Dhoni who tried his hands at hitting sixes, but failed as the situation was very tricky.. England had sent 6 fielders on the boundary and were also bowling a good line..
Then Pathan got out, and Sachin Tendulkar came out. If this has been a match 5 years back, everyone would have wanted him, but today, everyone wanted Dhoni to get the strike and start hitting. Dhoni did tried, but was failing to connect bat and ball again and again..
Then came the best phase of this unexpected chase of India - Ian Blackwell- the left arm spinner came to bowl over the stumps and on the pads of the batsmen to restrict them. Tendulkar played some great sweeps - conventional and reverse ones to make 13 runs off that over. From next over, it was back to flintoff to bowl himself and steve harmison from the other end.
This story came to an end when Dhoni was caught on the long off boundary. Laxman did come out, but umpires offered the lights to the batsmen which Tendulkar took instantly. So this was it, after 4 boring day, last two hours of this Nagpur test were worth watching.
Test matches can be very boring, specially on the sub-continent with those flat pitches, but the last two hours of his Nagpur test showed that even the unexpected things also happens on the sub-continent wickets.. who can forget the Eden Gardens test in 2001 againt Australia...
Indian score card.