England flummoxed by Ajmal’s bowling action.
The BCCI is not going to show a great deal of vision.
We expected them to be good, but we expected us to be better. To be honest we haven’t been good enough.
Can India bounce back?
The 2nd Test of the series will kick off tomorrow at Tent Bridge, where India won in 2007. They will have to repeat that performance during next five days if they would like to level the series.
In 2007, India had a makeshift opening combination opening the innings and they did reasonably well to give India a good base for the victory. This time around, it looks like India will have to go with another makeshift opening combination since Gambhir is doubt for tomorrow with an elbow injury he picked up at Lords. Mukund and Dravid opening the innings again? It will be a big loss if Gambhir is out because he is only experienced opener in the team and he is vice-captian of the team.
But, If he loses out, then that will bring Yuvraj in the team, which means Dhoni will have another bowling option, so if one of the pacers gets injured or Bhajji continues to go wicketless, then he can throw the ball to Yuvraj rather than him coming to bowl.
Three simple improvements needed from India:
1. Long innings - big partnership from batsmen - stop getting out to stupid shots;
2. Bowlers need to get their line and length right from ball one - they should have last Sunday morning session bowling performance in their mind;
3. And finally, be less languid…..
Siesta In Afternoon
The first hour of play today was very subdued. Praveen Kumar produce one magic delivery to send Cook back to the dressing room for just one run. But just after the midday, Ishant Sharma woke up and gave India a chance to think about winning the game. Before that Harbhajan took his first and only wicket of the game by getting Strauss out.
Ishant Sharma took two wickets in an over to send both Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell to the pavilion for just one run. And before lunch he bowled Trott. England were 75 for 5 at lunch. England’s lead was still less than 300 runs.
Ishant was consistently bowling in the corridor of uncertainty and was getting good bounce from the pitch. He was also hitting top of off stump as well. Basically, he was bowling more of an attacking line in second innings. This is what he should be bowling always rather than short and wide stuff.
India would have gone into lunch thinking about chasing a gettable target to win the Test.
But India took a long siesta after lunch and now their first target must be to make the game safe. England have set India 458 runs to win - largely thanks to 150 odd runs partnership between Prior and Broad. Prior scored his 3rd century in last 5 Tests and Broad scored a valuable half century.
Halr-arsed, Half-fit, and some players carrying injuries have just played one good session in this Test. Tomorrow they will need to have three good session to go to the Trent Bridge with 0-0 score. It is possible - two years ago India were in similar position and Dhoni saved the game with a bit help of from rain god. It can be done, but there is no rain tomorrow, so India’s batsmen will have to do it all themselves.
Fortunately, India have not gotten into a shell. They are playing normal cricket and not looking at the target. Dravid and Laxman have got a good start - both are in thirties - have seen the challenge from the new ball, so should be able to carry on tomorrow. A big partnership from them is required. Dravid looks solid - he is just carrying on from where he left in the first innings.
The best day of the game so far even though India looked ridiculous in afternoon.
Below Par India
Apparently, Kevin Pietersen was out of form and under huge pressure before this Test. India being a humble nation, they allow Kevin Pietersen to score 202 runs. Apparently, Stuart Board’s place in the team was under doubt as he was out of form and Tim was back playing after an injury. But, India being India, give him four wickets for nothing.
That is the difference. If those two players hadn’t performed for England, then it would have been even-stevens at this stage.
India’s openers played very good cricket until Gambhir got bored and played a straight ball all around it. Then, Mukund got anxious about his half century. But both laid a good foundation for the middle order, which they didn’t take full advantage of it. Most players got a start, but only Dravid carried on and scored a well-deserved century. He has been playing cricket for last a couple of months, so he is in a good nick. He will have to play another brilliant innings like this on the last day of the match.
India have been all out less than 300 runs for 9 times in their last 22 away innings. That is really shocking when you consider the legendary batsmen India have in the team. You don’t win matches if you get out that cheaply.
If India were to win from this stage, then their one-man attack has to bowl England out for less than 100 runs. Impossible. Praveen Kumar won’t be able to take all 10 wickets. Ishant Sharma is bowling wider of either stumps. Harbhajan Singh is only interested in making sure he doesn’t get hit for the runs. I don’t buy the argument that he has to bowl a defensive line because the guy at the other end is leaking runs. The best possible way to stop the flow of runs is by taking wickets. He has to be more attacking minded.
India didn’t last full three sessions in 1st innings. It is very highly likely that they will have to bat about 3 and half sessions in fourth innings to save the match. It looks difficult for India because of their mindset. They’ve been lethargic in all departments excluding Dravid and Praveen Kumar.
India your number one position is at risk - how will you answer it?
A very cautious start to the series from the both team. It was pretty much dire stuff from them. However, there were some interesting duels during the game and I feel England won most of the duels today, if you take the bowling conditions into the factor.
I wanted India to have a bowl first and no way I wanted them to bat first in this weather. The game would’ve finished in 3 days with England winning it resoundingly if India had batted first. Fortunately, Dhoni won the toss and opted to bowl first.
India started with three maidens and then Cook hit his favourite dab cut shot for first boundary/runs of the innings. He didn’t last long, though. As I hoped here Zaheer could get him out early and he didn’t disappoint me. Cook is not effective when it comes to play straight - he will mostly play straightish ball towards midwicket/mindon because that is his favourite scoring region. Zaheer bowled a straightish ball to Cook that was going down leg side but still straight enough to hit top of leg stump; Cook played it all around it and was stuck plumb in the crease. That will not be the last time, I suspect.
Zaheer Khan’s bowling figure of 2 wickets in 13 odd overs at 1.33 RPO is amazing considering that he hasn’t played a Test match in last 7 months and his only first class game of the year was a week ago. But that meant he is not match fit and hence he pulled up a hamstring strain in middle of his 13th over. Now we await, pray god, and hope he will be fit to bowl again in this innings.
Both Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma bowled a few probing overs, but they were mostly easily dealt by England batsmen. In case of Praveen Kumar, he lacks pace, so whatever amount of movement he got wasn’t effective due to his pace. He was getting a lot of movement - when he was bowling to a left-hander he looked like a fast version of Murali and when he was bowling to a right hander he was more a fast Shane Warne. All he needs a doosra now.
Ishant Sharma was bowling closer to the wide line or on the hips of Trott. Tomorrow he needs to get his direction right - in the abcense of Zaheer he will have to lead the attack.
One major complaint I have with India’s pacers today is that they bowled a lot wide - they didn’t make England players play enough. Perhaps they could not control the swing. The ball was tailing a lot. The below pitch-match of India’s bowling showing India bowled a good length but they were a touch wider then they should’ve been:
If they can bowl tomorrow a bit straighter - closer to the off stumps, then they should get players caught in slips.
I can only recall three catchable catches going to slips/keeper, which India didn’t take it. One catch was tough but a young Dravid would’ve caught that, second catch went to invisible third slip - why Dhoni didn’t have a third slip is beyond me and third catch was between Dhoni & Dravid - that was a right cock up between then two. And I believe all those chances were of Trott’s blade. Now he is well settled at the crease - he could take England to a good first innings score.
At least India didn’t bowl their usual quota of boundary balls, so if India get a couple of quick wickets tomorrow in the morning, then definitely India will be in a pole position. I fear tomorrow without Zaheer Khan, India’s bowling will go wayward and Trott-KP partnership will take full advantage of it.
This is as close as we’ll get to the Ashes. Whether it’ll be tougher than the Ashes, it’s very hard to say.
Graeme Swann, in an interview with Metro, afraid to term England v. India Test series as bigger than the Ashes.
Australia were never shy to classify an Australia and India Test series as bigger than the Ashes. They always found India challenge superior to England challenge.
But, I suppose, after the manner in which England retain the ashes down under they have right to think the ashes is bigger. Still, if you look at the current ranking, India are number one ranked Test Team in the world, so theoretically it is bigger than the Ashes.
Let’s hope India will let Swann know that to win against India is tougher than winning the ashes… starting from tomorrow.
England v India
- India will retain the number one position in Test cricket, if they win or draw the four match Test series against England. But if England win by 2 Tests, then they will become number one ranked Test team in the world. It will be first time for them. So a lot is stake in the series.
- Former England players, critics, and journalists are bemused at India’s preparation to the tour. Mostly because England had a couple of months of preparation in Australia before the Ashes. But India are not England. India went into South Africa Test series without any preparation and yet they returned home with draw. Still India will go into Lords Test with a 3 day tour game against Somerset behind them.
- India are a slow starter, so don’t be surprised if India lose at Lords. But, there are some reports in newspapers that pitch at Lords will suit India. So will India use Lords match for preparation?
- Gambhir’s first tour of England. He will not have his mate Sehwag at the other end when he opens the innings. He will have young Mukund. They fail, then big pressure on the experienced trio Dravid, Sachin and Laxman.
- Rahul Dravid scored some runs in West Indies series, but he is still not in top form. I don’t feel confident when I see him bat. If India are to score some big runs he will have to get going and face the music if one of openers fails cheaply, so players coming after him can find it easy.
- I would be tempted to move Laxman at three. In absence of Sehwag we need someone to set up the pace at the top - Laxman is perfect for that.
- Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar - when he plays there is always some kind of new records to be set. What records does he need to break in this series? 1) Score his 1st century at home of cricket - Lords. 2) If he does score his maiden century at Lords, then it will be his 100th international century. What else? Oh there will be plenty.. it is an endless list.
- Yuvraj or Raina. Both lefties, can bowl a bit and great fielders. Raina scored runs in West Indies. Yuvraj hasn’t played cricket in last 2 or 3 months. Who do you play? Raina is my favourite, but I would go with Yuvraj at Lords. Because he has improved his bowling - he has taken his bowling seriously. India needs a fifth bowler who can take wickets, so Yuvraj will be a better option than Raina. And we know about Yuvraj’s heroics at Lords in the Natwest ODI final, so maybe he will have a decent outing in the middle if he will be required of it.
- Now to the bowlers. There is plenty of competition here - only amongst medium pacers, though. Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan will lead India’s attack. They will be Dhoni’s go to man when he is in need of wickets. But who will he pick for the support act? I would go for Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar ahead of Sreesanth and Munaf Patel. Both Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel are similar bowler, so wouldn’t want both starting. Munaf is accurate - he will keep one end tight & quiet. But he is not a wicket-taker. Where as Praveen Kumar is still new to the game, but he can swing the bowl and can bat a bit. India will be underprepared for the 1st Test, so you would want as many bowlers who can hold the long handle for a bit to score vital runs. However, he needs to bat a bit maturely rather than take it as some kind of gully cricket. Ishant Sharma adds variety to the team - he is a deck bowler. You don’t want all swing bowlers in the team. He can bowl the length and line, which Tremlett will bowl to India.
My India XI for Lords Test: Mukund, Gambhir, Laxman, Sachin, Dravid, Yuvraj, Dhoni, Harbhajan, Zaheer, Praveen and Ishant.
And my predication: it will be a draw. Dhoni will score a century at Lords, yes, albeit he had a poor batting run in West Indies. Don’t you remember his fighting 80 runs at Lords on the last day of 1st Test in 2007 series?
Getting Cook Out
England have three players in their line up who have been scoring runs freely in last 12 months. Importantly, they have got form players at key positions: Opener Cook, Trott at three and Bell at five. Besides, they have attacking option in Pietersen, Prior and Morgan, so India will have a tough task on their hand to get them out very cheaply.
India will have to be actively proactive to get them out, if Dhoni gets his team meander away, then England’s form players will take the advantage of that to improve their average and England’s chance of winning.
But for me Cook is the key, if he gets out early with Strauss, then it will make England’s middle order work hard.
Alastair Cook is in form of his life. He has taken the advantage of his purple patch by scoring one third of his 18 centuries in last one year. That indicates he has been in a rich vein of form.
Coook’s two trademark shots are cut and mid-wicket drives/pull. He is stronger on his leg and scores majority of his runs on leg side.
Australia could not get him out in the Ashes down under. Sri Lanka’s weak bowling attack found it difficult to get him out cheaply as well. But, he was struggling last year around this time and his position was in doubt for the ashes. Perhaps the century he scored at the Oval against Pakistan changed his fortune. Against Australia and Sri Lanka he didn’t show any flaws in his game.
It doesn’t take a lot for player’s fortune to change, so it will be critical for India to not give him a good start to the series. At Lords, India must try to get him early and raise a few questions about his techniques, so he could carry those doubts to the next Test.
How to get him out? The answer could be tainted Pakistan’s Aameer. Last year Pakistan toured England and in swinging conditions Aameer got Cook squared up often. In that series he was first one to get out most of the time. He either nicked it to the keeper/slip or was strangled down on the leg side. Where as in Australia and against Sri Lanka it was fatigue/tiredness after a long innings was his downfall. I
India have got a world class bowler in Zaheer Khan, who got Cook out LBW a couple of times in 2007 tour. Zak can do what Aamer did. You would expect Zak to trouble Cook with the new ball. However, he hasn’t played cricket for a couple of months, so he will be rustic at Lords.
Even Ganguly got him out LBW once in that tour. But in last year he has been out in that mode only once, so that tells you lately he hasn’t missed any deliveries on the pads - he can play it with his eyes closed.
I feel the best way to get him out would be caught in gully/point or LBW. His strength can be his weakness. Indian bowlers can get uneven bounce on any pitches because of their pace and some bowlers prefer to bowl with scramble seam, so one of his cut shot could go straight down to the gully or point. And the uneven bounce could cause him to drag the ball onto his stumps.
Zak loves bowling at left handers - he can bring bowl in or away, but instead of inducing an edge from him, I reckon, Zak should go for a bowled or LBW dismissal…
I can’t wait to see how the number one ranked Indian team will do against the team who are vying for the number spot…
Two weeks left for India to prepare for their plans, if they take to the field without any plans, then they will be found wanting….