Rain plays spoilsport in Manchester as England take lead
England consolidated their position by taking a handy 85-run lead as they reached 237 for six before rain washed away nearly two sessions of play on the second day of the fourth Test against India at Old Trafford in Manchester on Friday.cricket Updated: Aug 09, 2014 15:34 IST
The discussion was on the changes in the India team for the fourth Test, and when Sourav Ganguly mentioned to his fellow commentators from England that Varun Aaron had the ability to bowl at 90 mph, there were raised eyebrows.
After all, India bowlers are known for swing and seam. After Aaron's delivery to Moeen Ali on Friday, the pundits are convinced. The lad from Jharkhand has serious pace. He had showed it on his debut at Wankhede a couple of seasons ago against the West Indies. He displayed it again at Old Trafford in his second Test.
Consistently clocking 89-90 mph, Aaron impressed as India fought hard to stay in the game.With Aaron and Bhuvneshwar Kumar sharing three wickets each, India made inroads into the England top order in the morning session. Despite their fine show, the visitors have their back to the walls. When heavy rain forced early stumps, the home team was 237 for six, a lead of 85.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2nd R) celebrates with teammate Varun Aaron (R) after taking a wicket during the second day of the fourth Test between England and India at Old Trafford in Manchester. (Reuters Photo)
It was an admirable show by Bhuvneshwar and Aaron in the morning session when they prized out England's top six for just 170. Had it not been for Joe Root's 48 and his 67-run unfinished partnership with Jos Buttler, the game would have been tighter.
The entire morning session was played under lights as heavy and dark clouds hung over Old Trafford.
To their credit, Bhuvneshwar and Aaron exploited the conditions well.
Though not as spectacular as Stuart Broad and James Anderson, it was excellent cricket by the India seamers. Aaron provided the moment of the morning when he produced a vicious swinging delivery to clean up Moeen with a ball that was fast and swinging.
But the platform was set by Bhuvneshwar. Bowling with a heavily-strapped left ankle, he kept plugging away courageously.
He kept the batsmen under pressure with a tight line. He was not as full as on the first day, but his direction was good.
Even though his speed bordered on the average, he was deceptive with his swing, snaking the ball around on both sides.
The morning's breakthrough wicket was the result of the pressure. Off an innocuous-looking bouncer, with the total at 136, night-watchman Chris Jordan sensed an opportunity to break the shackles.
He connected it well but hit it straight to the short midwicket fielder where Aaron took a good catch.A batsman who can take the game away in a session, the danger man for India was Ian Bell, and he was well set with a half-century. Four runs later, Bhuvneshwar prized him out with a beautiful delivery, drawing him out with a perfect outswinger.
Ian Bell leaves the pitch after being dismissed for 58 during the second day of the fourth Test between England and India at Old Trafford in Manchester. (AFP Photo)
Dismissed off a short ball in the last two Tests, Moeen was welcomed with a barrage of bouncers. Aaron set him up well. He softened the southpaw with a sharp rising ball and the next one was pitched up to surprise the batsman.However, the crucial period of play was to be the second session when the pacers start to flag. Things were getting easy for England's seventh-wicket pair of Root and Butler. This is when respite arrived for India. The skies opened up to cut short the England innings at 71 overs.
A general view of the ground after rain stopped play during the second day of the fourth Test between England and India at Old Trafford in Manchester. (AFP Photo)
More rain is predicted over the next two days, and the drainage system at one corner of the field is not great.
If India can raise their game, with the help of the weather, they may still survive this Test.
Commentary, England 1st Innings