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Report: England vs India, 2nd Test - Day 2

Bhuvi’s four-wicket haul and Ballance’s ton makes it even stevens at the end of day 2

Gary Ballance helped England to 219/6 with a carefully compiled 110 after Bhuvneshwar Kumar had left them reeling on 70/3.

The lone spinner in Ravindra Jadeja claimed Joe Root in the later part of the post-Lunch session. While the England top-order crumbled, Ballance dropped anchor after a shaky start and fought to keep the team in fray. The left-hand batsman formed an alliance with Moeen Ali for 98 runs en route his timely century.

At stumps on Day 2, England were trailing by 76 runs with Liam Plunkett (4*) and Matt Prior (2*) at the crease.

Earlier, after ending India’s last wicket stand on the tenth ball of the morning, Alastair Cook and Sam Robson took guard in England’s first essay. In a long and impactful spell, Bhuvneshwar claimed both the openers to finish with figures of 2/17 in the morning session. India’s new ball bowlers used the seaming conditions well to keep the flow of runs in check and the batsmen on their toes in the first session.

Shami could have been the first of the two bowlers to pick up a wicket, but Ajinkya Rahane dropped a sitter at first slip to give Robson a reprieve. In the following over, Bhuvneshwar gave the visitors their first breakthrough. Bowling a probing line, the pacer had the England captain nick the ball to the wicketkeeper. Three overs later, he induced an edge off Robson and ensured that the opener didn’t capitalise on the life he had been given earlier.

Bhuvneshwar was well complemented by Shami and Ishant Sharma as they bowled a disciplined line to restrict the England batsmen from scoring. Ballance and Bell trudged along to take the hosts to 51/2 at Lunch.

Post Lunch, MS Dhoni persisted with Ishant and Bhuvneshwar. The pair strove to continue where they had left in the previous session and India was rewarded for their perseverance with the wicket of Ian Bell. The middle-order batsman gloved a Bhuvneshwar delivery that came in to third slip for 16. With three key wickets, the pacer had kept India in control of the proceedings. At 70/3, the hosts needed a sizeable partnership and keep wickets in hand.

With the team in a precarious position, England’s highest run-getter in the first Test, Joe Root once again made his way to the middle under trying circumstances. The middle-order batsman joined Ballance in an effort to keep the Indian bowlers at bay. Half-way through the session, the India captain replaced Bhuvneshwar with Stuart Binny. The medium-pacer would have had the wicket of Ballance, had MS Dhoni taken the edge that carried.

The No.3 batsman continued to prod on and had stitched a 43-run partnership with Root until Jadeja struck. The spinner claimed Root leg-before to end the blossoming partnership. Ali, who then came out to the middle swept Jadeja over mid-on to open his account.

Meanwhile, Ballance who was anchoring the innings, reached his fifty at the stroke of tea with a single to Murali Vijay. At the end of the session England were 125/4 with Ballance and Moeen Ali in the middle.

Resisting the Indian attack, the Ballance-Ali partnership grew into the highest of the England innings thus far. The batsmen defended and worked at keeping the wickets intact, while India struggled to create a breakthrough.

Ballance who was inching towards his ton entered the 90s with two successive drives to the fence off Stuart Binny. The left-handed bat brought up his century with a boundary through mid-wicket.

While India looked for a breakthrough and awaited the new ball, Murali Vijay got Ali trapped leg-before for 32. He was replaced by night-watchman Liam Plunkett.

India then took the second new ball and right away reaped benefits as Bhuvneshwar Kumar got Ballance caught behind for 110. Prior and Plunkett then saw the hosts through the remaining overs.

Earlier in the day, Shami and Ishant resumed the Indian innings on 290/9 and five runs later, the former edged Ben Stokes to slips ending the visitors’ first innings.

Brief scores:

Day 1: Ind 1st inn 290/9 in 90 overs (A Rahane 103, B Kumar 36, J Anderson 4/55, S Broad 2/79)

Day 2: Ind 1st inn 295 all out in 91.4 overs (M Shami 19, B Stokes 2/40); Eng 1st inn 219 in 86 overs (G Balance 110, B Kumar 4/46)

Prajakta Pawar

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Love batting in seaming conditions: Rahane

The Lord’s centurion says he relishes pitches with bounce, pace and swing

July 17, 2014. Ajinkya Rahane will remember this day for the rest of his life. On this day, he became only the second Indian to score a century in his first innings at the Lord’s. The first was Sourav Ganguly.

What made Rahane’s 103 all the more special is that it helped India get out of jail on a wicket as green as the outfield. Thanks to him and his 90-run stand with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, from 145 for 7, the visitors finished the first day of the Lord’s Test with 290 for 9.

Rahane said he had prepared himself mentally overnight to not get overwhelmed by the occasion of playing his first Test at the iconic venue.

“I was actually a bit nervous last night because I’ve heard so many people say that a century at Lord’s is supposed to be a very special achievement,” he admitted. “These thoughts are there somewhere in your head but today I decided that I will not think about all that and just play the ball on its merit. It worked.”

Rahane has defied the perception of Indian batsmen being vulnerable in overseas conditions. His top five Test scores have come in New Zealand, England and South Africa. He said he feels at home in such conditions having grown up playing cricket on Wankhede Stadium’s pace friendly pitch.

“I am actually comfortable batting in overseas conditions. I have played most my cricket on the Wankhede Stadium wicket, which has good bounce and pace and the ball does swing around. So, I enjoy batting on such wickets.” He said.

Rahane looked at ease against the swinging ball, even as wickets fell before and around him. However, the No. 5 credited the batsmen who came ahead of him for playing out the morning session.

“It’s a great feeling to get a hundred here but I’ll give credit to our top-order batsmen – Vijay, Shikhar, Pujara and Virat. They batted out the crucial part of the day which made things easy for Bhuvi and me later.”

Speaking of his eighth wicket partnership with Bhuvi – who got two fifties in the first Test – Rahane praised his lower-order batting partner for his confidence and batting acumen.

“Bhuvi is batting so well. Standing at the non-striker’s end I was learning a lot about his batting,” he said. “When he came in to bat, I asked him if he was okay with us taking a single. He said he was perfectly okay. He’s such a confident guy now and is batting so well. So, I completely trusted him as well as Shami. He too batted well.”

Being a natural top-order batsman, batting with the tailenders is a skill that Rahane has had to develop batting at No. 5 or 6 for India. He said he is learning the art watching and talking to the people who have done so successfully.

“I learned much about batting with the tail during the Durban Test when I got 51* and 96. When I got out on 96 I was thinking about my hundred and went for it. Now I realize that when batting with tailenders, you’ve got to have faith in them. That’s what I did in Wellington and also today.

“It’s challenging batting with tailenders. I’ve been watching Mike Hussey’s videos and learning how he batted with the tailenders. I have learnt a lot speaking with our players as well. Virat batted with tailenders in Australia, Dhoni bhai has been doing that regularly too. I’ve been talking to them and it has really helped me with regards to this aspect of my batting,” he said.

With one wicket to go before England bat on this wicket, Rahane hoped the last pair of Ishant and Shami add a few quick runs before coming on to bowl. He wished the Indian bowlers would learn from the mistakes of their English counterparts, who erred on the shorter side in the first and the last session.

“In the first session they bowled a little short but came with a different plan in the second session and bowled a fuller length. In the final session again Plunkett was trying to bowl short. I think shorter length balls are going to be a bit easier to play on this wicket than the fuller ones.

“I’m sure our bowlers will learn from this and bowl a fuller length. I’m sure Ishant and Shami will get us 25-30 quick runs and it’s not going to be easy for the England batsmen to bat on this wicket against them.”

Shirin Sadikot

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