Posts Tagged ‘Bresnan’

Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan
12 September, 2011

It is hard to decide whether to laugh or frown after witnessing the scenes at The Lord’s on Sunday. While the result was clearly unexpected, the belligerence within was revealing through the body language of players from both camps, during different instances.

Dhoni’s frustration is understandable – the battle has gone bonkers with every route to success having brick walls with loaded artillery. Once again, the D/L method proved as hard to comprehend as The Grand Unified Theory, and as ruthless as terrorists as both camps underwent nervy moments when the rain gods intervened towards the end. A neutral, whole heartedly would state that a tie was a fair result. Not before both camps showed their reluctance to enter the field when the numbers were inclined to their side.

Quantitatively, India got off to a good start by weathering the new ball in order to prevent a repeat of what happened at The Oval. Qualitatively though, Rahane’s rather slow start to his innings witnessed moments of lunatic madness as he tried to whack the leather out of the white ball as frustration seeped in. Rahane would have completed an entire team’s innings had he been playing baseball instead of cricket.

Parthiv, at the other end, dismissed anything that was short of length by quickly shifting his weight on to the back foot and pulling the ball with confidence. Both the openers had luck on their side and trudged along at close to five-an-over. While the numbers seemed convincing, the approach, especially from Rahane, wasn’t. He’d have done well to learn from this innings on how to approach the game when shots keep finding the fielders.

Raina and Dhoni unleashed the pyrotechnics to get India up to 280

Another miniature collapse, following the dismissal of Dravid and Kohli almost immediately after one and other, saw the Indian skipper work on rebuilding the innings once again. With Raina, heart in sleeve, hoping to become a part of the reconstruction, a solid partnership was built to suitably daunt the English attack.

The run rate during the last ten overs headed towards the stratosphere, as over a hundred runs were gathered in a passage of play that helped India reach a more-than-respectable total of 280. It seemed as though the world had absorbed a lesson on Indian resolve, a characteristic that had made them world champions a few months ago.

The English reply was an unpredictable scatter of method and madness. Only Ian Bell’s fifty stood out amongst the top four batsmen, after the openers had departed in search of quick runs. Ravi Bopara, one of the heroes from The Oval, played an innings of undoubted steadfastness by building valuable partnerships with Bell, Bresnan and Swann. Signs of sloppiness on the field from the Indians were vivid once again with RP Singh being the culprit for a chance that he left begging at long on. Another instance of a frustrated Jadeja’s overthrow, way off radar, would surely have brought a smile on to the face of Steve Harmison, who definitely needed chaffing after publicly expressing his disgust over Durham CC when they had released his brother Ben.

At 173-5, bearing in mind Broad’s injury, the game seemed India’s to lose, with less than fifteen overs remaining. However, Bopara played intelligent cricket – strokes that demonstrated the work put in by a man who is clearly trying to cement a place in the current English setup. He targeted gaps, and slow fielders, to convert ones into twos and keep the rate ticking. The consequences of the Indian bowlers’ inability to walk through the lower order batsmen may become more apparent once the series is over, but England, no doubt, have enjoyed their role in the melodrama of lower order batting.

Ravi Bopara played a crucial innings for the second time in two games this series.

When rain intervened, the story had two parts to it: one, when the Indians were on the driving seat, and another, after another over, when the Englishmen took charge. With the score at 242, when the second spell of heavier rain hit the city, it seemed as though that England had clinched the game with the demanded D/L score at that juncture reading 240. Earlier, the Indians had a brief advantage but the spell of rain vanished by the time the teams could leave the ground.

But play resumed, much to the delight of the sport, to witness a spell of wickets falling in quick succession. Bopara departed by holing out to deep mid-wicket for a well constructed 96, but rain played spoil-sport again and used the D/L tenets do declare that the game was tied with England, at that time, further requiring 11 runs from 7 balls with a couple of wickets in hand. D/L doesn’t take into account the case of injured players who can’t bat.

Just like how an organization’s balance sheet doesn’t capture the true costs and risks of business activities, The Lord’s scorecard did likewise. The verdict would simply pose that England clinched the series with India yet to record a victory this summer. As the focus shifts to Cardiff, there is still no ballast to raise any hopes within the Indian camp.

Goutham Chakravarthi

For a brief while, India were on top on Saturday evening. Two spinners bowling in tandem, ball stopping on the batsman occasionally, ball turning occasionally, it looked as though the moment for a win over England had arrived. Ashwin had the ball on a leash, dropping it on a full length, luring the batsman to have a drive at it. Every ball dipped and turned.

Jadeja made an impressive comeback to the side with both bat and ball

Trott played for spin when it went the other way and Bell kept getting hit on the pad. India liked the conditions and sensed a win. The heavens opened up and overs and time were lost. When they came back, it was a greasy outfield and the ball became wet. England batted deep enough and sensibly enough to ensure India wouldn’t go back home with any series victory.

A green wicket and another lost toss ensured that India had to bat first for the third game in succession. Bresnan and Anderson found holes in the Indian top-order by moving the ball both ways. Though the pair would have liked to pitch it up a bit more given the conditions, they sliced through the top in their opening bursts to have India four down within an hour.

Raina fought hard, but threw it away with an ugly swipe to leave India 5 down for 58. As much as Raina is comfortable in the shorter format, he needed to show the restraint the situation demanded. His shot was reckless and disrespected the situation India found itself in.

Dhoni played the rearguard action well. With the ball moving less and less as the afternoon wore on, he opened up to play some bold stokes. Jadeja, after having finally landed inEngland, played a splendid innings. He was fluent through the off side and England obliged by bowling to his strengths. His fluency on the off-side backward of point off either foot stood out. In the company of an equally impressive Ashwin, he took India to a total that looked beyond their reach two hours earlier.

Ashwin and Jadeja were the biggest gains for Indian from this game. Both have been around on the fringes for quite sometime now. They first gave India a chance by putting on a rapid partnership of 59, and then put the brakes on England with their spin. Jadeja is a restrictive bowler who looks to choke the scoring of runs. With the wicket offering occasional turn, he became doubly effective.

Ashwin looked menacing. Often, he is criticized for trying out too many of his variations – offies, offies with round-arm action, top spinners, arm balls and carom balls. Today, his offies drifted, gripped and bounced. He looked threatening and left Trott clueless when he set him up for his carom ball. Stokes looked ill at ease against spin and seemed relieved when Ashwin finally bowled him.

Bopara held the innings together with an impressive innings

On the other hand, it was an important knock for someone like Bopara. He didn’t resort to panic sweeps when the ball started to spin. He kept waiting for loose deliveries and the Indian seamers, who were a big let down for Dhoni in this game, kept giving him a full toss or a short ball every over to relieve the pressure built by the spinners. He finally fell done in by the impressive Ashwin right at the finish line. But, he looked the part though he might be a better option at 5 than at 6.

How England will find the right slots for their first choice players might indeed prove to be a jig-saw puzzle over the course of the remaining two ODIs in England and the 5 ODIs in India. Kieswetter looks a powerful option at the top, but his defensive game is suspect. It might not be a bad idea to bat Bell and Cook at the top and have the option of Kieswetter at the back-end of the innings to take advantage of the bowling powerplay. He has proved to have the game to take advantage of fielding restrictions. They are unlikely to do that especially with him getting good runs at the top and might like batting at the top of the order in India as well.

On the positive side for India, many of their youngsters have shown promise. It will be a surprise if Varun Aaron doesn’t get a game on Sunday given the poor show of the seamers that practically cost them the game on Friday. England will look to seal the series with a win on Sunday.

Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, CouchExpert

1 August 2011

During times when an Indian fan walks along that thin line which separates faith from hope, most often observed when the team isn’t doing well as it is capable of, the common fan’s sword and the journalist’s pen come together to diminish that metonymic adage of the pen being mightier than the sword.

Much of it emanates from the status of virtual invincibility India had attained after topping the ICC Rankings in Test Cricket, only to be followed by the euphoria of being crowned World Champions. In a continent where today’s superstars run the risk of being relegated to the status of forgotten heroes if they fail, sometimes even if just once, immortality would appear an easier wish to attain than consistency. The packed schedules do not favour either.

And along this thin line, the Indian fans started their walk on Day 4 of the Trent Bridge test when they were left to rue with harsh memories of momentum and advantage escaping their grips, at various instances during this test, to hand England a clear sight of victory within the horizon.

In a test where Dhoni’s tradition of shrewd leadership seemed subdued, the scars left by Bell, Prior and Bresnan, by the time England’s second innings came to an end were painful, and India’s morale, gaunt. The Indian skipper’s faith enabled him to appreciate the bowlers who attempted to make the most of the conditions, but it didn’t force him to lay a trap to dismantle the English batting cheaply, even when he’d possessed the upper hand at times.

Bresnan's outstanding all round contribution has given the English selectors a pleasant headache ahead of the 3rd test at Birmingham

This clearly is at the heart of what is disturbing about an Indian fan’s faith at this moment of predicament: it doesn’t worry him enough; neither does it drive him to have second thoughts before lamenting over the captain’s lack of ideas when the England tail wagged once again, as he watched Bresnan and Broad scoring at a rate of more than 6 an over. Third man, once again, bore the greater share of the Wagon Wheel.

Talks of India having to restrict England to a score not in excess of 300, prior to the start of their second innings, seemed imminently laughable as the lead stretched to 477 – leaving India five sessions to battle through. A more than decent outfit was made to look hapless by England’s lower order batting.

Tim Bresnan was unlucky to miss out on a deserved hundred, but he did enough to place the English selectors in a spot of bother as they were left pondering over the moves to be made once Tremlett returns for the third test.

When the Indians came out to bat, it looked as though they were batting in a different wicket to the one in which the third innings of the match had come to a conclusion. Batting through five sessions was never going to be an option and the result clearly seemed to have only one way about it.

Excepting Tendulkar, none of the Indian top seven crossed single digits. At no point of time during this test did the Indians look like a champion outfit – barring the session on Day One where Dravid and Laxman negotiated through tricky spells of seam bowling.

Bresnan’s breezing spell that fetched him four wickets (and the selectors, additional aspirins – for the good) in his total of a five-for was complemented by Anderson removing his man, Tendulkar, yet again, for 56. Like MS Dhoni earlier, Tendulkar shouldered arms to one that nicked back in and was ruled out leg before.

Local hero Broad picked up the Man of the Match after amassing 108 runs and 8 wickets

The ruthlessness of the Englishmen resembled that of Nottingham’s popular folk figure, Robin Hood, while the Indian unit was made to resemble the deceitful sheriff, almost as though the visitors had stolen the sport’s supremacy from the land of its founders. Man-of-the-Match Stuart Broad, whose looks bear more resemblance to Maid Marian than the legendary outlaw, contributed both with bat and ball to lead the yeomen’s charge in conquering Trent Bridge. Bounce and seam, instead of bows and arrows, helped England take an unassailable 2-0 lead.

India’s reconstruction will be as symbolically important as Duncan Fletcher’s role in reshaping a side that probably hasn’t been on morale as low as what it is experiencing now. But the margin of victory – both an exact and significant barometer of English dominance – will linger in their minds for a long time to come.

As for England, the opportunity to top the ICC Test Rankings is a mere win away. Who’d have thought a couple of years ago that this would be a likely proposition? Even among the most optimistic of optimists, this would have seemed a far-fetched ambition, having witnessed what English cricket had been through.

Well done England, you deserve to be 2-0 ahead.