India dish out a clinical performance
Depleted England side was overawed by the hosts, finishing at 246/7 at stumps in Nagpur. | Full ScorecardUpdated: Mar 01, 2006 19:09 IST
A slow pitch allied to a lightning fast outfield makes 400 a possibility in the first innings. This is what England's stand-in skipper Andrew Flintoff must have been wishing as his new-look troops took first strike at Nagpur.
However, as predicted by cricket pundits days in advance, a depleted England side is no match for the might of full-strength Team India.
The Indian bowling attack ripped through the heart of England's dwarfed batting line-up, dislodging seven wickets for 246 runs on the first day on the most placid of a track one could play on.
With 9 of the 11, having no experience whatsoever of playing in India, the tourists looked a mute shadow from their days of Ashes glory. Had it not been for Paul Collingwood's authoritative 53 and debutante Alastair Cook's technical 60, England would have, without doubt,further plunged itself into the depth of nothingness.
Indian seamers, unexpectedly, overshadowed the spin duo of Harbhajan and Kumble on Wednesday, scalping five wickets between them. Sreesanth playing his first Test bowled with fire and speed while Pathan played on the batsmen' psyche, dislodging them with his guile.
Paul Collingwood held the Poms' batting like a glue for more than one session and with his cool temperament got his team close to 250. Earlier, opener Cook had put on small run-stands with the other top-order batsman to put England on the path of relative safety.
The debutante, just 21 years of age, amazed one andall with his maturity and talent -kind of displayonly expected from a pro.He, for certain, would havetaught his more illustrative teammates a thing or two about batting in India.
For England team though, unless Duncan Fletcher gives his boys a whack or chinese-whispers some magic formula, the tourists will again come out on Thursday, with the same lack of intensity and performance.
Flintoff veiled his blade and revealed his batting prowess, as England four down, resumed play for the final session of the first day.
The stand-in skipper looked unexpectedly comfortable against India's spin attack. Gone were his weaknudges and shuffles, that were so vividly prominent in England's last tour and in came powerful sweeps and drives.
The runs flowed as the two batters inched towards their individual fifties. Collingwood, who had come on the crease much earlier, being dormant in face of rollicking Freddie, and was soon overshadowed in terms of runs and strokeplay.
With the tourists topping the 200-run mark in the 70th over and the duo putting on a 70-run stand to announce their intent, things were getting out of hand for skipper Dravid.
But his team mate from Karnataka - Anil Kumble - bailed him out... although to a ball that he may not be proud off.Pitched on leg and drifting further down, the ball rapped Flintoff's pads. Before the batsman could realize what had happened, the umpire had raised his finger.
Freddie walked back (muttering under his breath!) for 43 breezy runs. With the danger-man dislodged, shrewd Dravid brought the fielders in for the last 5 overs.
Soon, his tight tactics was rewarded. England's wicketkeeper-batsman Geriant Jones was dislodged for 14 runs. Ian Blackwell followed him back, withouttroubling the scorers much.
First two sessions on pages 2 and 3
First Published: Mar 01, 2006 10:07 IST