Edgbaston, Day 1: Dominant England Ruthless In Execution

Posted: August 11, 2011 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, India in England 2011
Tags: ,

 Goutham Chakravarthi

 11 August 2011


This is getting farcical. It has got to count among the most lop-sided “big” series ever. The chasm between the sides widened further with England sitting pretty already at the end of the first day. You would get to understand the difference in the performance of both sides should you pick a combined best XI based on individual performances this series. Barring Rahul Dravid, none of the Indians will warrant a place in it. Such has been England’s dominance.

Broad sent Sehwag back off his very first ball en route to a 4 wicket haul

India’s best cricket over the last decade has been built as much on their ability to bat big in tough conditions. Always the team has found players who got in getting big runs with support from the others. Over the last two months, big runs have eluded all but Dravid. Partnerships and collective performances have eluded this batting order. Batsmen who have got their eye-in have thrown it away and their approach to good tight bowling has been pedestrian.

It was not much different on Wednesday in cold Birmingham on a green surface. It looked greener than both Lord’s and Trent Bridge, but offered much less to the quicks. Skillful Broad sent Sehwag back with his first ball, but only to see Gambhir and Dravid play out the first hour with little difficulty. Runs flowed and England’s bowlers were kept at bay till Gambhir perished to a loose drive. He knew he had done the difficult bit and would be cursing himself for throwing away a good start.

Rahul Dravid has looked in a different league to all Indian batsmen this series. His application was top notch yet again and looked set for his third straight hundred in consecutive Tests when he got going with pleasing drives. On the other end, a very unsure Sachin Tendulkar made a very scratchy 1 and got out playing a poor shot. Lack of runs off his blade has hurt India badly in this series. Even he, when he has got starts this series has not been able to convert them to big scores, a bane of Laxman too this series. Once again, he got out when he looked good for plenty more.

Raina has been worked over by a very skillful bowling side that specializes in exposing technical and mental shortcomings. His inadequacies with short-pitched bowling has wrecked his footwork and dented his confidence. Anderson set him-up with the predictability of a David Dhavan movie story line. With India facing embarrassment, it was left to a skipper who finds his best when he is aggressive and an unlikely partner in Praveen Kumar to thwart the English for 14 overs to bump India’s overall tally above 200.

Credit has to be given to England’s relentless precision in executing their plans. They have rarely made it easy for the visiting batsmen. Their plans have been backed by ruthless execution. They have been remarkable as a bowling unit with each bowler making a mark sometime or the other. Not only have they not let India score 300 yet in any of the innings, they have seldom let them have it easy even for an hour. They have broken the confidence of the batting order and the scars may run deeper with long term implications for some of the Indian youngsters.

England is perhaps just another good day away from getting into an unbeatable position in this Test. Given the withdrawn body language of the Indians in the last session, expect England to come hard and break the spirit early on day 2 and dominate the rest of the day. It will take something extraordinary for India to come back into this test and England will do well not to take the foot off the pedal just yet.

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