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After Bell, India floored on Matt

cricket Updated: Aug 01, 2011 00:26 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times
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On the first day, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth's figures read 22-0-45-3, 22-4-66-3 and 19-1-77-3, respectively. On the third day, the trio returned figures of 29-5-93-2, 24-3-115-1 and 22-5-103-2, respectively.

The Indian pace bowlers must have been wondering if they were bowling on the same Trent Bridge wicket. The contrast in their performance had as much to do with the wicket easing out and the weather warming up as with the poor performance of India's batsmen having shaken their spirit.

So ruthless and incisive on the first day, Sharma, Kumar and Sreesanth were just not able to get the movement or the bounce to trouble the England batsmen on Sunday.

The bowlers had given India a dream start by skittling out the hosts for 221 on Day One, but the batsmen let the match slip with some sloppy work despite fine show from Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh. England added insult to injury with a solid batting performance as they finished the day on 441 for six, with a lead of 374 runs.

Listless India
In what could turn out to be the most important day for the series, India surprisingly turned up listless. Nothing went right for the visitors on Sunday. The demoralised bowling attack could not conjure up the discipline or the drive to trouble the home team's batters. They looked rattled by Ian Bell's stunning counter-attack and threw in the towel when Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior and Tim Bresnan went on an all-out attack.

Indian players misery was complete in the final session when the England batters went berserk to take the lead beyond 350. Their shoulders drooped and appeared going through the motions.

The day belonged to Bell. Bell, an underrated batsman, lifted his game at the right time with an innings of 159. He not only kept the Indian bowlers at bay, but scored at a brisk pace as England galloped away at almost four an over in the first session.

England went into lunch at 130 for one, ahead by 63 runs with Bell batting on 84. He continued to frustrate India after the break and duly completed his century in 129 balls with 17 fours. The visitors soon ran out of options as Kevin Pietersen made amends for his first innings low score with a gritty half-century.

The Indian skipper tried to rotate his bowlers but nothing seemed to work. His frontline spinner Harbhajan Singh, continued to struggle.

He has hardly turned a ball in the series but what has been more frustrating is that he hasn't been economical as well. Dhoni used him for just nine overs.