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The rise and sudden fall

india Updated: Jul 31, 2011 01:59 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

VVS-Laxman-and-Rahul-Dravid-walk-after-close-of-play-on-the-first-day-of-their-cricket-Test-match-against-England-at-Trent-Bridge-Cricket-Ground-Nottingham

A poor performance by the Indian lower-order undid some of Rahul Dravid's great work on another gripping day of cricket in the four-match series.

After hitting a brilliant century — his second successive — Dravid looked in dismay from the non-striker's end as Dhoni & Co committed hara-kiri to allow England back into the second Test on Saturday. From 273 for five in 87.3 overs, India lost four wickets in six balls without adding a run to crash to 273 for nine in 88.2 overs.

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Stuart Broad took a stunning hat-trick to lead England's spirited fight-back on the second evening of the game. Dhoni was the chief culprit as he tried to go for quick runs without getting in. At that stage, Dravid and Yuvraj had seized the momentum with a fifth-wicket partnership of 128 runs. Another partnership then would have broken the spirit of the England bowlers.

It was a period when everything went England's way with umpire Marais Erasmus ruling Harbhajan Singh LBW — Broad's second hat-trick victim — despite a huge inside edge. To the great joy of the capacity crowd, on his hat-trick ball, the England pacer came up with an unplayable delivery to clean bowl Praveen Kumar.

All charged up, Broad did not take much time to complete the last rites of the Indian innings and finished with six wickets. For all the hard work by Dravid (117), VVS Laxman (54) and Yuvraj Singh (62), India had a lead of only 67 runs to show, being all out for 288.

Late cheers for locals
It was only in the evening session that the home team supporters found their voice. In the morning, they were completely silenced by the brilliance of Laxman and solidity of Dravid. The Hyderabad batsman was in sublime touch as he lit the ground with scintillating stroke-play, while Dravid was his unflappable self.

Written off by many, what a series it is turning out to be for Dravid. His hundred on Saturday was another master-class in demanding conditions. On a wicket where the bowlers have made the ball talk, Dravid was unshakeable, displaying his famous powers of concentration to anchor the innings.

India made their intent clear early. Laxman and Dravid were aware of the importance of runs and set the tone with four fours on the trot, two by Laxman and two by Dravid.

Two to tango
The game plan was for Laxman to handle Anderson, who had troubled Dravid at Lord's. And, the seasoned Indian duo executed it to perfection. For almost 45 minutes, Dravid didn't play a single ball from Anderson and Laxman didn't face a single ball from Broad. The batsmen were mainly trading in fours and twos.

They had timed their singles to perfection too, as when Anderson changed ends, he found Laxman again on strike. To rub it in, Laxman took three fours in the England spearhead's next two overs.

Trent Bridge is Anderson's favourite ground but he was clueless when the Laxman-Dravid show was on. India, however, failed to build on the platform as Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina played loose shots to allow England in.

At the end of the absorbing day, England were 24 for one, trailing by 43 runs. In effect, it could be 24 for two as Jonathan Trott is unlikely to be fit to bat. There was no official word but radio commentary said he was out of the game. The match is set up for a super Sunday.

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