Monday 27 August 2007 

Bell Inspires England To Retake NatWest Series Lead

England 281-8 (Bell 79, Collingwood 44, RP Singh 3-55)
India 239 (Ganguly 72, Dravid 56, Anderson 3-32) at Edgbaston
England won by 42 runs and lead the seven match series 2-1

England turned in another impressive all-round display to beat India by 42 runs at Edgbaston and take a 2-1 lead in the NatWest Series.

After Ian Bell top scored for the third consecutive match, England's bowlers bowled with good discipline and, backed up by a good fielding display, in which Bell took two fine catches, were too strong for India, despite fluent half-centuries from Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid and a fighting rearguard innings from Yuvraj Singh.

Dravid joined Ganguly at the crease with the score on 36 for 2, and immediately got into his stride, as if continuing from where he left off in Bristol, stroking seven fours and hitting a six to get India back on track, with both men reaching their half-centuries off of Monty Panesar in the 26th over.

Ganguly then passed the 11,000 run mark, but the more pressing concern for the Indians was the dismissal of Dravid soon after, bowled by Chris Tremlett for 56 and the breaking of a 104-run partnership for the third wicket. Tremlett struck again in his next over, having Ganguly well caught behind by Matt Prior for a 105-ball 72 to leave India on 149 for 4 and giving England the advantage that they never lost.

The dangerous Mahendra Dhoni became James Anderson's second wicket for 13 before spinners Ramesh Powar and Piyush Chawla fell victim to Paul Collingwood's medium pace , Yuvraj Singh was run out for 45, Zaheer Khan was bowled by Monty Panesar and Munaf Patel was bowled by Anderson, who finished with three for 32, to end the Indian innings in 48.1 overs.

Ganguly struck five fours early on to give the Indian innings impetus before a less fluent Sachin Tendulkar (8) was dismissed by Anderson, offering a simple chance to Paul Collingwood at point. In the next over, Dinesh Karthik (0) lasted two balls before lobbing Stuart Broad straight to Alastair Cook at cover leaving India behind the eight-ball.

Earlier, Ian Bell combined with Collingwood (44) to help England recover from a testing position of 118 for 3 with the Indian spinners tying England down, Ramesh Powar, Piyush Chawla and Yuvraj Singh all picking up wickets. Bell was eventually caught by Dinesh Karthik for 79 with 15 balls of England's innings remaining, which were used to good effect by Stuart Broad (10 from 11) and Chris Tremlett (19 from 9) to bolster England's score at the death.

Openers Matt Prior and Cook had put on 76 for the first wicket before Prior was caught out for 34 and Cook dismissed for 40.

Cook was caught by Yuvraj Singh to give Powar a wicket before Chawla had Kevin Pietersen stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni for 9. Pietersen has now been dismissed twice in two innings by the young leg-spinner and this wicket left England in trouble before Bell and Collingwood started their rescue act, adding 75 crucial runs for the fourth wicket.

Owais Shah (19) and Ravi Bopara (10) hit swift knocks at better than a run a ball to help keep the run rate moving along and the bowlers did their bit by chipping in with quick runs at the death. RP Singh took three wickets for 55 to emerge as the pick of the Indian bowlers.

Andrew Flintoff's injured knee did not allow him to make the final eleven, with Owais Shah and Monty Panesar coming back into the side with Dimitri Mascarenhas also absent with a hand injury. The Indians recalled seamer Zaheer Khan with Ajit Agarkar missing out.

England: Alastair Cook, Matt Prior (wk), Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood (c), Ravinder Bopara, Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett, James Anderson, Monty Panesar

India: Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Rahul Dravid (c), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Ramesh Powar, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh, Munaf Patel

John Pennington
© Cricket World 2007