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Indians meow before Lions

England Lions flay Indian bowlers as they piled up runs on the first day of the warm-up match, writes Rohit Mahajan.
Hindustan Times | By Rohit Mahajan, Chelmsford
UPDATED ON JUL 14, 2007 04:27 AM IST

Two British cubs hit the big league against India on Friday, but it was the resolution of No 8 Tim Bresnan that hurt more than the violence of opener Joe Denly. Yorkshire’s Bresnan averages 22 in first-class cricket and had just one ton at that level before Friday, but he produced an innings of exceptional quality to rub salt into India’s wounds.

After Denly's flyer, India had pegged back the England Lions to 185 for six when Bresnan walked in and changed the game. Sachin Tendulkar, captain in the absence of Rahul Dravid, tried seven bowling options, but Bresnan, 22, defied them all in his chanceless innings.

The Indians have cause to worry — after being denied by the Sussex lower-order at Hove, they have been kept at bay by the England Lions' tail. True, it's a placid track and there was no Kumble in the ranks, but the Indians did have the services of Zaheer, their pace spearhead, on Friday. It amounted to little in the end.

A murky morning greeted the teams, and it was not long before a drizzle began -- no real threat, but it seemed the weather was going to get nasty, that the rain would intensify.

It did, but not from the heavens -- Denly, the young Kent opener, had a really good Friday, the skies cleared up and the runs flowed.

Local knowledge is a wonderful thing. One look at the pitch and former England skipper Graham Gooch declared that no bowler in his right mind would wish to have a bowl on it.

The Lions, thus, opted to bat, despite the threat from the elements, a threat that turned out to be mere rumour. The bounce was reliable, the ball came on to the bat and Denly, 21, started smashing the Indians around.

The fun began in the third over when Zaheer overpitched, the ball failed to move and Denly got 12 off the over, including two lovely straight drives for four.

But captain Andrew Strauss, hopeful of making the Test squad after a poor run, was in trouble right from the start. Zaheer gave him grief in the first over, and then, in the fifth, sent his off-stump for a long walk.

Yet, Denly continued with gay abandon, and Zaheer came in for some rough treatment. A seven-ball ninth over yielded 21 runs -- the first three balls, pitched up, were driven for fours; the fifth was sent to the boundary behind point.

Owais Shah struck a couple of fours before Sreesanth got him.

But Denly could not be contained: the clouds thundered but that was all -- the Lions roared and reigned. They took lunch at 128 for two, Denly unbeaten on 76 off just 74 balls.

After lunch, though, things changed a bit -- in the second over after resumption, Sreesanth beat him twice in two balls; two overs later, Denly showed frailty when he edged him past Dinesh Karthik at gully.

He finally fell for 83, tempted by a flighted ball from Powar and getting stumped instead.

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