Saturday, 11 February 2012

Sporting Picks of 2011, Part 4 - August 1st

2nd Test; Trent Bridge; England (221 & 544) beat India (288 & 158) by 319 Runs

In the end, England were so ruthless in their dismantling of the No. 1 Test side that it was hard to believe India had been in match-winning positions twice in the first two days. Before the fourth day was over in Nottingham, England had secured the two-match lead they need to win the series by to move to the top of the ICC rankings. Their lower-order batsmen ransacked a hapless bowling and fielding outfit, before their fast bowlers demolished India with venom the Nottingham crowd hadn't witnessed since Stuart Broad's hat-trick (above) on the second evening. England had broken India and the upshot was victory by 319 runs, the largest margin in Tests after conceding a first-innings lead.

England were set on their way to test cricket’s number one spot with this win that looked unlikely at points of the first and second days.  Having won the first test by 196 runs at Lords, England went into this test days later as favourites for this test.  However India fought back on the first day, reducing England to 124/8.  Broad then counterattacked, his 64 helped England to reach 221 all out.

On the second day, India were setting themselves up for a large first innings lead, despite having Laxman and Tendulkar out early on in the innings.  Dravid was building a big partnership with Yuvraj Singh, when in the sixth over after the new ball was taken Broad picked up the wicket of Singh.  Broad’s next over saw him take a hat-trick – with the victims being the skipper M S Dhoni, Harbejhan Singh and Kumar.  Soon India had stumbled from being 267 for 4 to being all out for 288 – Dravid top scoring with 117.  Broad did most of the damage with 6/46 – his spell that included the hat trick was 5 for 5.  Day three saw England plunder 400 runs in a day for the first time in a test since day one of that Edgebaston Ashes test in 2005. 

Pieterson (63) & Bell (159) added 162 runs for the third wicket, Bell & Morgan (70) added 104 runs for the fourth wicket while Prior (73) and Bresnan (90) smashed 119 for the seventh wicket.  If India were not a broken side after that, they would be on the fourth day.  Not content with sharing a stand of 119 with Prior, Bresnan shared a stand of 82 with Stuart Broad (44) – before with half an hour to go before lunch England were bowled out for 544, setting India 478 runs to win.  It would be a target that India would crumble trying to reach.

M S Dhoni falls to Bresnan
Both Dravid and Laxman fell either side of lunch, before India subsided in a battery of short aggressive pitched deliveries from Bresnan.  Mukund, Raina, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni fell to Bresnan as he picked up four wickets in the afternoon session.  An hour into the final session, it was all over as India fell for 158, Bresnan picked up 5/48.  England were 2-0 up in the series, but crucially they now had the psychological edge over India.  In the third test, India were put in and bundled all out for under 250 before England piled on the runs – with Alistair Cook surpassing his 235* made at the Gabba the previous winter by making 294 – making 710/7 declared.  For much of this test India had the look of a beaten side.

England were now the best test team in the world, and were playing like it (of course this is before they came up against their old bĂȘte noir’s Pakistan).  Judging by India’s performances in Australia in the recent test series, this victory is the one that broke India in more ways than one.

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