Friday 13 July 2007 

Tendulkar Century Highlight Of Tour Game Draw

A brilliant 171 from Sachin Tendulkar was the highlight of the drawn tour match against England Lions at Chelmsford.

Half-centuries from Yuvraj Singh (59) and MS Dhoni (76) helped them reach 384 as Stuart Broad took five wickets to rip through the tail.

Onions removed Wasim Jaffer (1) and VVS Laxman (0) and Broad got rid of Dinesh Karthik (5) as the Lions immediately took hold of the game.

The Lions then made 230 for 2 declared, with Andrew Strauss making an important 80 and Owais Shah 75 not out. India made it to 91 for 1 thanks to Dinesh Karthik hitting 51 from 45 balls when stumps were drawn.

Earlier, a century from Tim Bresnan and a half-century from Stuart Broad tipped things in favour of England Lions after a pulsating first day of their three-day tour match against the Indians at Chelmsford.

The England Lions won the toss and elected to bat. In order to give both teams an opportunity to get valuable time in the middle, it was agreed that neither side will face more than 100 overs in an innings. Lions Skipper Andrew Strauss, who has been in woeful form with the bat in recent times, would have been hoping to make the most of the way the coin landed and get some much needed confidence under his belt, on the eve of the Test series.

These hopes were quickly dashed when the experienced left arm pacer bowler Zaheer Khan ripped out the England opener's off stump. India’s opening bowlers Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth produced hostile spells up front and really seemed to enjoy the overhead conditions.

Kent’s Joe Denly seemed in total control and at ease with himself at the crease. The 21-year-old played some lovely shots straight down the ground early in his innings and 45 minutes into the morning session, he burst into life hitting Zaheer Khan for five fours in one over Denly went on to register his half century from just 49 balls half an hour before lunch.

Owais Shah watched much of this onslaught from the non-strikers end and clearly wanted a piece of the action for himself, he attempted an expansive hook shot off the bowling of Sreesanth. However the shot was over ambitious and all he succeeded in doing was hitting the ball straight to Zaheer Khan on the fine leg boundary where he was caught for 7.

The Lions went to lunch the happier of the two teams, their lunch time score of 128-2 represented an excellent fight back from their earlier setbacks, Denly and Jonathan Trott, the Warwickshire and England fringe batsman were the not out batsmen.

Upon the resumption, Sreesanth looked to be India’s most likely wicket taker, he bowled a fiery spell with plenty of aggression and was perhaps unlucky not to claim the wicket of Denly who edged through slips and seemed to be on his merry way to a swashbuckling century. However Sreesanth’s chirp was still apparently ringing in the Kent batsman’s ear the next over, when he advanced down the wicket to Ramesh Powar and attempted to smash him into the next county, only to completely miss and be stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni for a very well constructed 83.

After the dismissal of Denly, Trott briefly look as though he was set to take on the mantle, of the tourists’ tormentor as he appeared to grow in stature with every minute he spent at the wicket. However India quickly nipped what seemed destined to be a very prosperous innings in the bud, when Zaheer Khan had Trott caught at 2nd slip. When Khan had Tim Ambrose, the Warwickshire wicket keeper, who shared the gloves with England’s Matt Prior at Sussex until 2005, caught behind for just 4 runs, the tourists were suddenly in control with the Lions seemingly stuttering. Adil Rashid fell in the very next over without troubling the scorers to leave the England Lions precariously placed with the score at 185-6.

Ravi Bopara, one of England’s few bright sparks in the recent Cricket World Cup, recently admitted that he models his game on India’s stand-in captain Sachin Tendulkar, he certainly displayed the calmness and composure of the Little Master as he set about repairing his teams flagging fortunes. In Tim Bresnan, Bopara appeared to find a very useful ally as the Yorkshire all rounder advanced down the wicket to smash Powar for a 6 over mid on as well as a one bounce 4 as he mounted an uncompromising counter attack.

Just when the duo appeared to be getting England back on track, Bopara was brilliantly caught at short leg by Dinesh Karthik of the bowling of his hero Tendulkar to the last ball before tea to leave the England Lions struggling having only added 97 runs between lunch and tea and losing 5 wickets, the session undoubtedly belonged to India with the Lions' score being 225-7.

After the tea interval Ishant Sharma looked fairly threatening hitting the deck very hard, even though he did have to abort his run up three times, which in all likelihood was due to a strong breeze blowing across The Ford County Ground. Meanwhile Sachin Tendulkar demonstrated all his years of experience he bowled tremendously with great guile and was very economical, doing his utmost to tease the Lions lower order into making an error.

The post tea session was very much a war of attrition with Stuart Broad, who replaced Bopara at the start of the final session added thirty painstaking runs with Tim Bresnan in the first 45 minutes after tea. Bresnan did soon after register a 50 with a nicely timed shot on the leg side for 4 off the first ball that Yuvraj Singh bowled. Broad was given a massive life line on 22, having just pulled Ishant Sharma for a glorious four all along the ground, he tried to repeat the shot with but went aerial instead, Ramesh Powar fielding on the mid wicket boundary settled under the ball and seemed to have plenty of time to complete the catch, but he still managed to drop a sitter of a chance, much to the annoyance and anguish of some frustrated Indian fans sitting right behind him.

Broad may have lived a charmed life, but to his credit after that blemish, he looked every inch the handy lower order batsman that many have billed him as, in one Ramesh Powar over, he hit two glorious 4s over the bowlers ahead a clear sign of a man starting to warm to the task, shortly before the close of play he hit an exquisite cover drive for 4 off the bowling of Sreesanth to reach his half century. Bresnan meanwhile continued to milk the bowling while putting away the loose balls that came his way in doing so he eased to his century, his 2nd of the season and first class career, he brought up the milestone with a delightful on drive which rocketed to the fence.

The pair added 129 and the Lions seemed set to go through the final session without losing a wicket when Yuvraj Singh one of the best fielders in the world took a stunning catch at gully diving forward to dismiss Broad for exactly 50 Sreesanth was the man who provided the much needed breakthrough for the Indians.

India would be very happy with how the opening two sessions of this tour match turned out, with Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth the likely pair to take the new ball at Lords on Thursday both finding some rhythm, however Bresnan’s assault may be a cause for concern, so to the confident shot making of Stuart Broad a man who seemed to struggle against the rapid pace of Fidel Edwards. The Lions close on 379-8 from 90 overs, 10 potentially remain in their innings however India will have ambitions of cleaning up the last two wickets well before that before attempting to fill their boots on what really would appear a very placid and even paced wicket.

© Aaron Kumar
Cricket World 2007

(Additional reporting by John Pennington)