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India fight back England challenge

Jaffer and Dravid held their guard up after England amassed 393.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2006 12:49 IST

England, on the second day made India realise that they are in for a tough battle at Nagpur.

After a stunted batting performance on Wednesday, the tourists envoked its awe-inspiring Ashes magic, forcing the Indian camp to stand up and take notice.

Paul Collingwood, considered by many as England's least fancied batting talent, must be proud that he has finally given critics something else to pen down.

Playing with impervious dominance, as if he owned the stadium, the middle-order batsman hit a rollicking century - first of his career.

Resuming from a piteous 246/7, Collingwood pulversied the Indian bowling attack from the word go, clubbing them all over the park. His exploits even simmered the tail into action as Hoggard, Harmison and Monty stuck with him like glue.

The trio put on pugnacious stands with Paul and helped him convert his six-hour long marathon effort to post a near impossible score of 393 in first innings.

India, overwhelmed with the enormity of the score from the tourists, started on a wrong footing. Sehwag looked ropy and not in his elements as he looped a regulation catch at short cover to walk dejectedly back for a measly 2.

But Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid took up the cudgels of scoring and fought back with ferocious hegemony. The duo capitalised on some listless fare from England's seamers and put on a come-from-behind century stand.

Jaffer hit his 4th Test fifty after three-and-a-half years of mute silence, while Dravid held his gaurd up. India ended the day on an even keel, under the setting evening sun.

Final Session:

Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravidbegan the final session of day's play in contrasting style. While the opener looked elegant andin full flourish in his strokeplay, skipper Dravid looked a haunting ghost of his overly-defensive days.

Even after facing 50-odd balls, his scorestumbled to 6. He first boundary came twenty balls later!

It was surprisingto see Dravid in all sorts of tangles against Monty Panesar's sharp googlies. To the same balls, Jaffer seemed at ease.

With his skills inthe spotlight, the batsman hit his half-century - 4th of his career - and announced his return to international cricket.

Though India's cumulative run-rate rode below 3 runs per over, the duo had for certain nipped the sting of the English pace battery.

Hoggard and Harmison looked listless while Flintoff paid for gross inaccuracy in line and length. The two batsman put on a 100-run stand signalling their intent to hold their guard up.

Post-lunch Session:

It was all England in this session, with the hosts going one down at 40 runs, chasing a mammoth target of 393. Even though Jaffer along with Dravid steered India to relative safety, Sehwag's departure was a crucial blow to Indian batting ambitions.

Collingwood took the morning's carnage to the afternoon, declaring his intention by plonking his front foot down and clubbing Pathan over long-on for six.

Not known for his batting, wide-eyed Panesar tried to give him company holding his end up, but soon crumbled in face of incisive Sreesanth. England, though managed to hit critics for a six with a strong display, amassing 393.

Paul Collingwood finished unbeaten at 134 with four sixes and thirteen fours.

India looked set towards a positive start, with Wasim Jaffer looking particularly comfortable against the English pace-combo off Harmison and Hoggard.

Even though 8 Test matches old, the opener's maturity was evident, when he stroked two boundaries off Hoggard and then took a single to give Sehwag the strike.

However thing turned awry at the other end, with Viru looping a regulation catch at short cover. He departed for a measly 2 off 6 balls.

Jaffer took up the cudgels of scoring the runs and with 'the Wall' at the non-strike's end, steered India to relative safety. At tea, India were 40/1 with Jaffer undefeated at 28.

Morning Session

The Nagpur stadium was brought to light as the England team for the first time exhibited its batting prowess in the first session of day two.

Paul Collingwood smashed a breathtaking century - first of his career.

His six-hour long unbeaten stint at the crease combined with the enterprising Stephen Harmison (39 off 42 balls)lifted his side to a position offerocious hegemony at 360, with one wicket still to go.

England's run-mill, looking to chug close to 300, got a fresh impetus as the play moved on to the second day of the first Test at Nagpur.

Matthew Hoggard - the bowler - least known for his batting exploits, gave unflinching support to Paul Collingwood as the two continued from the overnight score of 246/7.

India looking to eke out the last three remaining wickets, missed a trick or two by starting off with Pathan and Kumble. The two bowlers looked mute in the face of ill-luck coupled with dogged defence.

Dravid called on the debutante Sreesanth, who immediately effected a breakthrough by dislodging Hoggard. India reasonably happy with the proceedings... did not have any inclination what was in store.

As one defensive tailender departed, another attacking one arrived. Stephen Harmison adopted an extraordinarily bold style of play by stepping out to the bowlers. Sreesanth was rendered impotent while Kumble looked woefully out of place.

He combined with the already prolific Collingwood to put on a 60 run stand and sail England past 330.

But he played a shot too many. Going for a huge heave towards mid-wicket, he was out stumped off Harbhajan. Nevertheless his brief cameo had snatched the initiative from Indian camp and put his side in a dominant position.

Collingwood though was in no mood to hold back and further stepped the ante. He clobbered Harbhajan for a huge six straight down the ground to race to 99 and then punched a boundary towards the same region to bring up his first Test century.


Teams:

England:
AJ Strauss, AN Cook, IR Bell, KP Pietersen, PD Collingwood, A Flintoff (captain), GO Jones (wicketkeeper), ID Blackwell, MJ Hoggard, MS Panesar, SJ Harmison.

India:
W Jaffer, V Sehwag, R Dravid (captain), SR Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni (wicketkeeper), M Kaif, IK Pathan, A Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, S Sreesanth.

Hours of play: 10-12 hrs; 12.40-2.40 pm; 3-5 pm

Umpires: Ian Howell (SA) and Aleem Dar (Pak), Third umpire: I Shivram (Ind)

First Published: Mar 02, 2006 10:14 IST