Day 2: England in driver's seat
Hoggard pushed India on the back foot on the second day of the Mumbai Test. Ind 89/3 (Eng 400). Scorecardindia Updated: Mar 19, 2006 18:22 IST
England could not have asked for a better end to a day, which saw them falling short of at least 100 runs. But their bowlers did hit back and how.
Matthew Hoggard swung and bounced India almost out of Mumbai! Andrew Flintoff kept it as tight as he could as India finished Day Two of third Test at 89/3.
That was after England, resuming at 272/3, scored 400 in their first innings.
Things could have been worse had it not for that unbroken 61-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Yuvraj Singh (32 not out in 47 balls, 6 fours) and Rahul Dravid (37 not out in 101 balls, 4 fours) who would resume India's battle on Monday.
England are very much on top and it would require Dravid to play a special one in his 100th Test. On Sunday, he looked immovable again even as Englishmen, inspired by three quick wickets, was doing everything they could with the ball.
Once more Sachin Tendulkar came to a big roar and left to a deafening silence!
Life can be cruel even for the best. On Sunday, Sachin, with a mountain of runs behind, was struggling to get off the mark.
Shuffling at the crease, not sure of the feet movement, he pushed the 11th ball he faced to cover and ran for a single there never was. He just managed to get back to the crease in time, beating the throw from the fielder.
Finally, he punched Flintoff down the ground to get a single on the 14th ball. Sachin was relieved, but it seemed the crowd was even more relieved. It is not known whether they anticipated or not that grief would follow seven balls later as James Anderson would make him edge one to Geraint Jones.
That didn't bother Yuvraj who came out and punished Anderson. How dare you got Sachin out, as if to say! But his strokes were refreshing in a period dominated by the ball. Dravid, considering the position his team was in, was defending everything that was coming his way.
Fall of openers:
If Hoggard was pitching the ball up looking for that swing, Flintoff was hitting the deck, consistently at around 90mph.
That was of course the way they bowl. But Virender Sehwag (6) could hardly imagine what was actually the Englishmen's plan!
And the Najafgarh blaster played into their hands. Hoggard gave him the surprise with a bouncer, the kind which would make Steve Harmison proud.
Sehwag was all at sea, jumping, taking his gloves in between the nose and the ball to see Owasis Shah taking the catch at first slip.
Four overs later, Wasim Jaffer (11) could have left alone one off Hoggard going down leg. His first mistake was his last as Jones took the catch.
Both openers had been bounced out! India failed to get the platform while chasing England's first innings score of 400, or rather, 201 to escape follow on.
Sachin Tendulkar, a 35-century man who was under pressure for failing to reach 30 in last nine Test innings, joined Dravid, another man under pressure after his decision to field had backfired.
The little period before tea:
Jaffer and Sehwag came in to play out the five overs before tea.
They did that. Though Sehwag hit the only boundary, guiding one off Flintoff in between third slip and gully, it was Jaffer who was looking more comfortable.
Hoggard was swinging the ball and Flintoff was bowling with pace, but Jaffer was confident, with his timing, balance, feet movement, everything.
It wasn't easy to bat the way Owasis Shah did. For the manner he was playing the spinners and Munaf Patel and protecting James Anderson, the number 10.
Who would say he was playing his first Test?
But eventually he fell, 12 short of what could have been a hundred to remember on debut. Shah (88 in 163 balls, 13 fours and 1 six) edged Harbhajan Singh's doosra and Dravid dived to his right taking what was the catch of the match.
Monty Panesar (3 not out), the British Sikh, came in to face Harbhajan.
It was a typical partnership between him and Anderson, the number 11 and 10, which fetched 15 invaluable runs, coming mostly from edges. And then Harbhajan put an end to England innings at 400 when he forced Anderson (15) to play one to Yuvraj Singh at short leg.
A good enough total on the board for England, but maybe, they had a hundred more in mind when they had started the day.
Munaf on fire:
Just like in the morning, Dravid again turned to Munaf Patel and Anil Kumble when India's search for success began after lunch.
Shah resumed his innings as confidently as ever, but Shaun Udal fell, plumb in front. Finally a wicket for Munaf.
In came Hoggard, one of the most dogged tailenders in the world, only to find his leg stump taking a walk back, almost to MS Dhoni!
Too good a ball for a batsman facing his first ball.
Munaf was on a hattrick and everybody, the Indians on the field, the Indians on the stands were on a high.
In his next over, Shah denied Munaf his hattrick. But what he couldn't deny was the fact that Munaf bowled really well and that he kept Indian hopes alive.
Either dropped catches or dazzling stroke-play or rather a combination of both denied Dravid success.
And then he eventually decided to try Sreesunth, the bowler who never loses heart. Sreesunth bowled one which held its line and Paul Collingwood (31 in 102 balls, 3 fours) found himself in no position to play or defend, and MS Dhoni dived to right to take a good low catch.
India's search for a wicket ended, finishing the 84-run partnership between Collingwood and Flintoff (50 in 85 balls, 6 fours, 3 sixes).
When it rains, it pours! Flintoff was giving Anil Kumble chances and when he hit against the spin once more, Tendulkar had to cover at least 15 yards to his left to take what was such a fine catch.
Jones (1) was too new at the wicket to play shots against Sreesunth who was bowling well. And his drive on the rise rested in Kumble's hands at point.
Three quick wickets and Indians were back in the game.
England took lunch at 345/6 with Shah, who was retired hurt on Saturday and Udal were at the crease.
On Sunday Dravid said hello to England with two weapons -- Kumble and Munaf -- who had troubled them more than most on Day One.
The new ball wasn't taken and he trusted Kumble's variations and Munaf's tricks with the old ball.
But in front of them was Flintoff, the most intimidating man in contemporary cricket when armed with a bat.
The England captain started hitting Munaf on the rise off the backfoot. Collingwood was inspired and he dispatched Kumble to mid wicket.
Dravid took the new ball and brought Irfan Pathan to partner Munaf who made Flintoff edge twice in two successive balls only to be dropped by Sehwag (at second slip) and Kumble (at point).
Have India dropped the match?
Pathan eventually caught Flintoff for a six! Munaf's well directed bouncer was pulled by the batsman to Pathan at fine-leg who found himself out of the rope after completing the catch.
Munaf has been the pick of the bowlers once again, bowling a probing line and always to the field. And Flintoff was always game to the challenge, making it an absorbing contest.
The heat was on and Munaf was eventually warned twice by the umpire for running onto the wicket while completing his follow-through, an old problem with Indian pacers that had troubled Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan and others in the past.
One more warning and Munaf would have been barred from bowling again in the innings. Sensing the danger, Dravid brought back Kumble to whom Collingwood danced down the wicket and his leaning edge soared higher and higher, beyond the reach of the man at point, all the way to the boundary.
Flintoff was more assured of himself when confronted by Kumble's second spell, hitting him to the mid-wicket fence twice, once off the backfoot and once off the front.
India: Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, S Sreesunth, Munaf Patel.
England: Andrew Strauss, O Shah, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones, Matthew Hoggard, S Udal, James Anderson, Monty Panesar.
First Published: Mar 19, 2006 09:33 IST