Farcical end to the warm-up
India's last day of preparation for the Tests ended in farcical fashion, Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Karthik trying to shame England Lions into a declaration. Karthik bowled full tosses, the batsmen grimly defended them; Yuvraj bowled in slow motion, tried different kinds of bowling actions.
There was a history to it — apparently, Sachin Tendulkar had invited a declaration from Andrew Strauss with an idea of making a match of it. Strauss was not too keen, and the Indians seemed miffed.
Finally, Strauss decided his team was beyond danger — and that the Indian openers had little time for practice — and India were left to get 257 off 20 overs. At least 30 minutes of what looked like pointless cricket was over.
There was a point, though. England Lions’ decision to bat on did seem inexplicable, but Strauss ensured that Wasim Jaffer and Karthik would not get to spend too much time in the middle — but would have enough time to lose their wickets.
When India batted a second time, there was time for five overs before the last hour and then, with no result possible, the captains could have called the game off.
But India batted on and on, Karthik raced to a 50 and Jaffer finally got to spend some time in the middle.
However, in what was supposed to be a preparation game for the Indians, it is England who walked off with most of the positives.
For the Indians, the return of MS Dhoni was the sole shining point — Sachin Tendulkar did rock on Saturday with a scintillating century, but then Tendulkar did not really need to prove anything.
Dhoni did — he had just one small knock during the ODI series against South Africa in Belfast, and his first two innings in England, against Sussex at Hove, had lasted 27 balls and yielded just 16 runs.
Dhoni, 44 overnight, went for his runs right from the start of play, attacking Onions and Broad. Then, just after news filtered in that he had made it into the England 13 for the Lord’s Test, Broad struck, removing Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth in his third over of the morning. Sensing that the end was nigh, Dhoni intensified his barrage, striking two sixers and two fours in the next nine balls he faced. But he fell trying to replicate an outrageous swat for four that had gone past the bowler, bottom-edging the ball to his stumps. Broad celebrated his call for the national side with five wickets.
In the second knock, after a dismal run over the last few innings, Strauss came good. He took two fours off Zaheer’s first over as the paceman struggled to find rhythm, and Sreesanth too got some stick as he erred by bowling too full. To be fair, there were at least two possibilities when Strauss or Denly could have fallen, but Strauss prospered.
England Lions 1st innings: 413
Indians 1st innings: Karthik c Ambrose b Broad 5, Jaffer lbw b Onions 1, Laxman c Ambrose b Onions 0, Tendulkar c Shah b Onions 171, Ganguly c & b Tremlett 14, Yuvraj c Strauss b Broad 59, Dhoni b Broad 76, Powar b Bopara 4, Zaheer c Ambrose b Broad 28, Sreesanth c Shah b Broad 0, Ishant not out 0; Extras (b-4, lb-8, w-2, nb-11) 25; Total 383
Fall of wkts: 1-2, 2-2, 3-14, 4-65, 5-205, 6-304, 7-317, 8-361, 9-361.
Bowling: Broad 19.4-2-76-5, Onions 20-3-90-3, Tremlett 13-4-40-1, Rashid 12-0-90-0, Bresnan 16-2-46-0, Bopara 6-1-29-1.
England Lions 2nd innings: Strauss b Powar 80, Denly c Jaffer b Zaheer 18, Shah not out 77, Trott not out 31; Extras (b-5, lb-1, w-1, nb-14) 21.
Total (for two wkts decl) 227
Fall of wkts: 1-60, 2-140.
Bowling: Zaheer 8-1-36-1, Sreesanth 9-0-37-0, Ishant 9-0-44-0, Powar 13-2-49-1, Ganguly 8-1-20-0, Yuvraj 8-2-16-0, Karthik 4-0-19-0.
Indians 2nd innings: Karthik c Bopara b Rashid 51, Jaffer not out 22, Yuvraj batting 6.
Extras (b-4, lb-6, w-1, nb-1) 12
Total (for one wicket) 91
Bowling: Onions 4-0-28-0, Bresnan 6-0-21-0, Rashid 6-0-24-1, Bopara 4-0-8-0.
Result: Match ends in a draw.