Tuesday, August 2, 2011

England Cricketers Take Step To Becoming World's Number One Test Nation

It looked for all the money in the world that at 124/8 on the first day, England were going to get routed in the second test against India, then of course in stepped Stuart Broad ably assisted by his Nottinghamshire team mate, Graeme Swann.

The two proceeded to bash the ball around, knocking out a 73 run partnership, which gave the score a touch of respectability, but by no means put England into a winning position. The innings was eventually concluded at 221 all out with Broad making 64 and it was he who was to star again with the ball when India took to the crease in their first innings.

Before the Broad bowling show really began however India, inspired by a second successive test hundred by Rahul Dravid had gone well past the England total on 267 for 4, with Yuvraj Singh on 62. Broad charged down and delivered Yuvraj a peach off a ball which caught the faintest edge of his bat and was snapped up by Matt Prior behind the stumps. It ended a 128 partnership and began what was for Broad one of the most exciting spells of bowling he has ever experienced. Six runs later it was the turn of captain MS Dhoni, caught in the slips by Anderson, Harbhajan Singh went somewhat unluckily next ball LBW and Broad completed the hat trick by bowling Praveen Kumar with a jaffa.

To make matters worse for India, Dravid went next over off the bowling of Tim Bresnan and Broad rounded the Indian reply off by claiming his sixth wicket having Sharma Caught by Bell. India however finished at 288 all out and still had a very useful lead of 67 runs. Broad achieved his best test match bowling figures of 6 for 46.

With England needing a solid start to their second innings were rocked by the news that Jonathan Trott who had injured himself when fielding was in no position to bat when play resumed the following day. This meant that Ian Bell would take over at number three and he was soon needed after Cook was out early once again. Cook and Strauss put on fifty for the second wicket before Strauss was out caught in the slips after wafting outside his off stump.

Bell was joined at the crease by Kevin Pietersen and it was these two that batted England into a seriously strong position. Bell batted brilliantly, he was always at his fluent best and scored the lions share in what became a 162 partnership between the two for the third wicket before Pietersen got out on 63 caught behind.

Bell remained solid and was joined by Eoin Morgan and the two also went on to put on a stand of over 100 runs. However Bell was involved in a controversial run out decision after the final ball before tea. Believing that Morgan had hit the ball for four, Bell walked off the field for his well earned break, however, the ball had in fact not quite reached the boundary and was thrown back into the crease where the bails were removed and an appeal for a run out was made. Although this was clearly an unintentional mistake by Bell the umpire was not particularly keen to give him out so referred he the decision to the third umpire, Billy Bowden who decided that Bell was out, much to the chagrin of the England dressing room. However, during the tea interval England captain Andrew Strauss and Coach Andy Flower met with MS Dhoni and Indian coach where it was agreed that the appeal for Bell’s dismissal would be scratched, which resulted in Bell returning to the crease after the break.

It was a magnificent sporting gesture by Dhoni particularly as England were beginning to put themselves into an obvious winning position and Bell was already on 139 runs.

Bell however did not last too much longer and got out on 159, an innings that appeared to inspire those following on, Morgan was out for 70, Prior for 73, Bresnan made a superb 90 while Broad weighed in again with 44. England therefore finished on a huge total 544 which left India 477 runs to win. A total as it happened that proved far too daunting for them.

India’s last innings reply was poor with the visitors capitulating for just 158 runs with only Tendulkar (56), Harbhajan (25) and Kumar (44) getting into double figures. Bresnan took his best test match figures too with a fantastic 5-48.

England thus, from being in dire straits in the first innings came back magnificently and won the second test in just four days by a massive 319 runs. This has given them a 2-0 lead in the four match series and a huge opportunity to go top of the ICC World Rankings, the cricket odds have England an un-backable 1/20 to now win the series but can be backed to win 4-0 at 3/1 whilst 3-0 is the favoured outcome at 9/4. Needless to say Broad was voted Man of the Match after taking eight match wickets and scoring over 100 runs over the course of the test.

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