Day Four: Ishant and Prior Dazzle

Posted: July 25, 2011 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, India in England 2011
Tags: , , , , , , ,

 Goutham Chakravarthi

With time, details fade and only memories remain – the sweetest and darkest. Day 4 of the 2000th Test will be remembered for an outstanding spell of 3 for 1 by Ishant Sharma. Sure, Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett later conducted an interrogation of India’s top order, but Ishant, in a spell articulating perfect rhythm, when body and mind danced to the heartbeat, composed a telling tune that exposed the English middle order of holes it didn’t know existed.

Ishant looked nothing like the highest wicket taker in tests in 2011 in the first innings. He lacked the rhythm and confidence he exhibited in the Caribbean only a month ago. His rhythm was cranky and Kevin Pietersen bullied him. But, today, Ishant, in a magical spell of fast bowling, his long locks billowing in fresh summer air, his run-up so smooth it was a glide, he unleashed magical, unplayable deliveries. He was in such a trance that the batsmen can be forgiven for being unaware of the ambuscades about him. Whilst it lasted, each ball was poetry that warmed the hearts over and again.

Ishant Sharma produced a memorable spell of fast bowling before lunch

Even cruelly, I thought Zaheer’s absence was a useful expedient to get Ishant to a new level. Ishant had left England in tatters as lunch was taken. Former cricketers of India and England paraded the hallowed turf celebrating the 100th contest between the two countries, while the crowd feasted on the cake and the ale, and the prospect of a potentially cracking test in the making loomed deliciously upon us. But only till India came back on to the park and Raina was introduced to up the over rate!

What followed was a session of some very poorly constructed cricket by the visitors. With only three fit bowlers, the hard yards of the first innings had taken its toll and a determined Prior and Broad ran them ragged. From the Himalayan heights of titanic struggle between bat and ball, it turned to a contest of India doing the last stage of Tour de France by foot and England by motorcade. England ran the fielders and captain ragged and when the bowlers returned with fresh legs, they had already been lapped twice over by the English. Prior will get his opportunity at 6 should England struggle to bowl India out on day 5 and feel the need to go with five bowlers. His century was well constructed with almost a Usain Bolt sprint to the finish line.

Injury and illness to Gambhir and Tendulkar meant Indian had to go in with a re-jigged batting order. Facing a rampant trio of English quicks who fancied their chances against a tired batting side, they bent and bounced the ball in rapid cadence. Old hands Dravid and Laxman, architects of some of the stoutest batting accomplishments, battled and survived. It was exhilarating cricket. The old firm of Dravid and Laxman held fort for India to fight another day. Their methods so precise and contrasting, but complement each other.

Sophistication is easy to be associated with Dravid – who combines the technical mastery of his art to suit the wicket and the opposition, the situation of a drying wicket and the waning strengths of opposition trundlers. He plays the attrition game as well as anyone to have walked a cricket pitch and his powers of concentration are of a Grand Master. On the other hand, Laxman, India’s best 3rd and 4th Innings man is as intense but with a game so pleasing, it makes you wonder if batting was ever so pretty anywhere else. He can look clumsy in his set-up and dodgy wafting without much feet movement early, but he can hardly ever made an ugly run. It is almost fitting that he produces his best when his team needs it the most.

Anderson, Tremlett, Broad and Swan will believe that there is enough in the wicket to produce nine mistakes on day 5, but India will be confident that they can survive the overs. It quite resembles the Lord’s test from 2007 and it promises to be as tight this time too. England have dominated this test, but India have shown tremendous determination to be not blown away. They will hope the D/L (Dravid/Laxman) method saves this test for them.

Bring on day 5.

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Comments
  1. Wherever, Whatever be the sports format The truth is hidden on most occassion.
    It’s not that England dominated this test match, it is purely lack of captaincy from Dhoni has caused India in this state. Everyone has their one talent and skillset in terms of captaincy, but there are certain basics which every one in the field of cricket should hold as a captaincy.

    Dhoni should improve on the below areas, otherwise it would be great time to India Test cricket if he leaves the Test cricket space if he wants to continue what he is doing now

    1. Keeping 2. Batting 3. Basic field setting to a batsman 4. Rotating bowlers at the right time

    He converts Win into Draw, Draw into Losing a match, but every other does the reverse. Not sure why many doesn’t talk about Dhoni’s inefficiency of captaincy, might be that is luck, but for sure in future ppl will definitely talk about those.

    If Dhoni would have brought Ishant and Praveen for at least 15 overs after lunch, definitely England would have scored at least 100 runs from what they actuallly ended up. Dhoni is the man who converts this match from a convincing Indian win to England hopes of winning the match.

    All the best Dhoni — keep playing for the opponent team

  2. Well written Goutham. For anyone who saw that fiery spell of Ishant, this write up was an action replay on paper. Trott’s dismissal was the best out of his four. India seemed to lose the way after that. If Dhoni had gone for the catch of Broad off the bowling of Bhajji, the score would have been different. Though the records don’t show Dhoni dropping Broad, it was a poor judgement from our inconsistent captain.

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