Broad counter-attack rallies England
Was it definitely India’s day, or will it prove to be England’s? This thrilling series is already turning into a classic, and we’ve only had six days out of the scheduled twenty so far. At the moment, though, it seems as if the players are trying to cram all the thrills and spills from what should be a five-Test series into the measly four the authorities have actually granted us.
The Nottingham Test has simply exploded into life, following the excitement of England’s opening Test win at Lord’s, and a well-grassed Trent Bridge pitch is fighting the likes of Broad and Indian seamers Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Sri Sreesanth for top-of-the-bill showing. Eleven wickets fell on day one, and it could have been more as constant seam movement, plus swing under overcast skies, meant a capacity crowd dared not take its eyes off the action.
A rejuvenated Broad led a stirring England fightback from 124 for eight to 221 all out, hitting 64 from 66 balls, and then Jimmy Anderson removed opener Abhinav Mukund with the very first ball of the Indian reply.
In a tense last hour, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman needed all their skill – and a fair amount of good fortune – to keep out Broad, Anderson and Tim Bresnan, back in the side in place of the injured Chris Tremlett. It seemed only a matter of time before England collected a second Indian wicket, but at the close Dravid and Laxman had hung on as India reached 24 for one.
A dramatic opening day began with Indian captain MS Dhoni winning an important toss and, unhesitatingly, asking England to bat. Andrew Strauss, England’s captain, would have done the same but said he felt there were “no massive demons in the pitch”. Really? After 11 overs, England were 23 for two and a 50-run third wicket response by Strauss and Kevin Pietersen – taking England to 69 for two at lunch – was but an illusion.
Six wickets fell for just 55 runs in the afternoon session, as India’s seam trio ran amok. Missing the injured Zaheer Khan, plus batsman Gautam Gambhir, who has an elbow injury, India were thought vulnerable after their Lord’s experience – but this was a bounce-back of real venom and belief.
Then, however, came England’s counter-attack through Broad and Graeme Swann. They came out after tea swinging the bat with calculated aggression and India’s previous disciplines of line and length were lost. Six overs after the interval brought 49 runs and the pair’s half-century stand took them only 42 balls.
Broad drove, swung and cut in swashbuckling style and Swann lost little by comparison until, on 28, he was surprised by a ball from Kumar which spat off a length and the result was a gloved catch to gully. It was also a painful blow on his left hand for Swann, but a precautionary X-ray confirmed no cracked bones.
Anderson hung around for half-an-hour, enabling Broad to plunder two more boundaries; there were nine in all in a characterful innings which finally ended with a catch by Sachin Tendulkar on the deep mid-wicket ropes.
Oh yes, Tendulkar. All this, and Sachin to come tomorrow. This series cannot get any better, can it?
Close: Second Test, day one, Trent Bridge
Match score: England 221 all out (Broad 64), India 24-1 Full Scorecard
Session score: England 97-2, India 24-1, England win final session
Shot of the day: A lofted straight drive by Stuart Broad, off Sreesanth, to bring up his fifty
Ball of the day: Sreesanth’s perfectly-pitch leg-cutter, which the in-form Matt Prior could only edge to first slip
Quote of the day: “It’s a long series and there’s plenty of cricket left in it” (MS Dhoni before the start of play. Or should that be ‘Understatement of the Day’?)
Strop of the day: Praveen Kumar, when umpire Marais Erasmus decided not to give Kevin Pietersen out lbw when the England batsman was on 17. HawkEye showed the ball would have gone over the top of the stumps.