Posts Tagged ‘Trent Bridge’

Chandrasekhar Jayarama Krishnan

Head of Cricket, CouchExpert

30 July 2011

Dravid’s love affair with the Battle of Survival ascends when the original rationale for the contest between bat and ball – with the additional threat of a Trent Bridge turf war – intensifies. On a wicket that contained enough juice to make even a top batsman’s plight ignominious, Dravid’s approach towards every ball was reminiscent of a gallant soldier’s focus while guarding the borders of an endangered nation.

On a day of engaging Test cricket – involving a world class ton from Dravid, a spell of devastating consequence from Stuart Broad, dropped catches and an Umpiring blunder – it almost made the common fan wonder why five day cricket is still a topic of morose sentiment.

The script couldn’t have been written better: the world’s most technically equipped batsman fighting under the most testing of English conditions, a local hero picking up six that included a scintillating hat trick, and Kevin Pietersen dropping Yuvraj Singh at gully when the latter was on 4. And the third session of play demonstrating cricket’s own version of a Domino Effect.

The Wall’s 34th test ton, equalling the record of the greats Brian Lara and Sunil Gavaskar, adds to his tally of an inert century as an opener, a position that he doesn’t enjoy batting in, yet one which he takes up for the team’s cause. Memories of his purple patch during the tour back in 2002 flooded through the gates of Trent Bridge like a tsunami, commemorating the achievement of this batsman who has faced the maximum number of balls in Test cricket.

Intelligent cricket is often about respecting the conditions, especially for a batsman on conditions like these. Dravid’s willingness to leave and defend under cloud cover on Day One was equally matched by the intent to put the loose deliveries away on a relatively sunny second day – both being offsets of an outstanding technique and immense concentration.

Not to forget VVS Laxman’s contribution in ensuring that his veritable partner was in the right frame of mind to build this valuable innings. If the last fifteen overs of Day One was a lesson on survival, the good news from the middle on first session of Day Two was what the Indians had been touting for, almost entirely due to the excellent complementing efforts of Dravid and Laxman.

Dravid's 117 at Trentbridge will rank alongside his feats at Headingley, Adelaide and Rawalpindi

If Hogwarts School of Wichcraft & Wizardry taught cricketing magic, Laxman’s batting is one which would be invoked by a verbal spell that would read Gracio.  Such was the fluency of this master batsman that it allowed Rahul Dravid, at the other end, to play the game that naturally comes to him.

This new force seemed to transcend traditional Nottingham culture of seam and swing. Both these batsmen emphasized strong responses in difficult situations, using experience and role playing. Even the cruelest of Dementors would have found it impossible to suck these happy memories from an ardent cricket fan – such was their exhibition of batsmanship!

This display is something the current young crop of Indian cricketers must think about if they want to leave a distinctive mark on the sport, inspire a new generation of cricketers and succeed in the largest arena of Test cricket.

It was a shame to see Laxman getting out the way he did – a delivery that he certainly wouldn’t have poked at in the previous evening. While statistics would say that Laxman’s average record in English conditions persisted, the criticality of the knock – one that cannot be quantified – was as immense as any innings one would associate with the stylish Hyderabadi.

England’s bowling included sporadic spells of brilliance from Anderson and Bresnan, who supported a more consistent Broad in their quest to dig through the Indian middle order. Graeme Swann, predictably, with a bandaged left hand and unsuitable conditions for spin, had a day to forget with Yuvraj, back into the Indian test team after a long duration, targeting him in particular. The Indian southpaw’s valuable contribution, ably supporting the solid Dravid, certainly puts him contention for another berth in the starting XI for the subsequent tests.

The Indian lower order batting, once again, failed with the display appearing to be almost criminal, when compared to the value that Dravid put on his wicket. The Indian captain’s dismissal, especially, will evoke a lot of wrath from the fans.

Broad’s hat trick, which included the Indian captain, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar as victims, did not materialize without its own share of controversy. The Indian team’s reluctance to move with a fully fledged DRS back-fired as a Harbhajan Singh inside edge on to his pads went unnoticed by the umpire Marias Erasmus, who adjudged the batsman incorrectly, not for the first time this game, out LBW.

The local boy's hat trick was the first of its kind at Trentbrige

Nevertheless, Broad’s final tally of six wickets painted an image of a man who shared no resemblance with the one who was being victimized by the media prior to the start of this series. His contribution with the bat, as demonstrated at the Lords and the first innings at Trentbridge, did plenty to add to his credentials of portraying himself as a genuine all rounder.

Dravid would have had every right to be disgusted with the batting display of the lower order when he Bresnan had him caught at third-man in an attempt to search for runs, having been left with the tail. In hindsight, a lead of 59, after Dravid’s marathon display, should leave scars of remorse amongst those who didn’t apply their minds as they rightly should have.

With England commencing their second innings, the sport proved that it has a funny way of biting you as a player – as Broad’s presence ascended, the form of the Ashes hero Cook exponentially descended. After surviving a close LBW shout to Ishant Sharma, Cook was the first English batsman to be dismissed when a leading edge flew to Yuvraj at backward point. The law of averages, much to Cook’s dismay, applied itself on the England opener.

The course of this Test could well be decided on Day 3, especially with the injury of England’s talisman batsman Trott, and the fact that he’ll no longer play a part in this test.

But Day Two’s contribution to Test Match cricket will be those vivid images and memories of Rahul Sharath Dravid, battling through a hit on his wrist and later, cramps, to conjure one of the greatest innings of all time. What a champion!

 Goutham Chakravarthi

 30 July 2011

A green pitch and an overcast day covered with wet clouds greeted the two sides at the toss which both captains didn’t want to lose for it wasn’t the pitch even Dr. W.G. Grace would stick his thumb into and say, ‘A hundred for me lads’. With injuries plaguing his team and with an unsettled batting order, Dhoni was relieved to win his second toss in a row and insert England.

Sreesanth made a fine come back by picking three English top-order wickets

It can be difficult to assess bowling performances in helpful conditions. Largely, Praveen Kumar settled into a good line and swung it both ways with magical control. Ishant, buoyed by his performance in the second innings of the Lord’s test, galloped to the wickets and hurled tough questions at the English openers. Between Praveen Kumar, Kevin Pietersen and Marias Erasmus, they ensured the news channels got enough fodder for the evening bulletin. Tantalizing cricket was played where fortunes oscillated between bat and ball when stumps were drawn for lunch.

The afternoon session warmed many Indian hearts as their bowlers ripped through the English middle order with great skill and discipline. They could have got more as the bowling had the batsmen in a fix: batsmen were drawn to play away from the body with the bat aslant from the swing of the ball. The pitch offered the ball more than what the bowler offered the ball when hurled to the pitch, and as a result, a tough and fine middle order was left to lick its wounds for the second time in successive innings. Sreesanth, his omission from the first test and his late swing, was debated at length in the Sky commentary box.

The test erupted into life in the final session with two free spirited locals deciding to take the attack to the enemy camp. A dumbstruck opposition recoiled and let the game drift. In a most entertaining hour post tea, Swann and Broad smashed a hitherto impressive Indian attack to smithereens. And till the maverick Praveen Kumar got one to spit on Swann and almost broke his left hand, the show looked impressive to carry on for a while longer. Broad continued in his merry way in producing a sparkling half-century in front of his home crowd, an innings that could prove to be vital in the final analysis of the match if England manage to sneak ahead with a lead after the completion of the Indian first innings.

Dravid and Laxman, key to India overhauling England’s 221, survived a testing spell of skillful bowling from Broad and Anderson. They showed their skill in encountering a difficult pitch with movement and unpredictable bounce. They took body blows and survived close shaves. Lucky as they were, they showed how to survive on this wicket. They, with Tendulkar, will be crucial for India’s chances now in this Test.

England will fancy their chances on the second morning.