Frustration for England as Laxman and Dravid wrest control
Lunch: Second Test, day two, Trent Bridge
Match score: India 117-2 (Dravid 44*, Tendulkar 14*, Laxman 54) ;England 221 (Broad 64) Full scorecard
Session score: India 93-1 India win session
The wicket – finally – of VVS Laxman was the only consolation for England on a morning of toil at Trent Bridge. With Sachin Tendulkar looking in ominous form, with Rahul Dravid looking immoveable, and with both their reviews gone, things were not looking good for Andrew Strauss and his team.
India, who began the second day on a nervy 24 for one, after an uncomfortable 15 overs on the first evening, are now in a position – at 117 for two at lunch – to take control of the Second Test. On a largely sunny morning, the ball did not swing as much as England expected and nor did there seem to be as much movement off the tufty-grassed surface as there was for the Indian quicker bowlers on day one.
Then there was the ‘vaseline rumour’ which lay at the heart of England’s unsuccessful review (their only one left after a wasted one yesterday evening) when they were convinced that Jimmy Anderson, on his 29th birthday, had found the edge of Laxman’s bat when he had scored 27 and India were 48 for one.
Strauss was seen to be in earnest discussion with umpire Marais Erasmus as countless replays failed to indicate – via the Hot Spot technology which has been agreed for this series – that the edge of Laxman’s bat had been in contact with the ball. England’s appeal was concerted; they were clearly in no doubt that Anderson’s delivery had brushed Laxman’s blade.
Hot Spot, however, disagreed and in the media centre there was much discussion about whether vaseline, allegedly applied to the edges of their bats by England’s players in a bid to reduce the chances of being given out via Hot Spot, had also been utilised by the Indians. Wild rumour, perhaps, but still a talking point.
Laxman survived for almost another hour, and a frustrating one for England, before Tim Bresnan made one bounce and move away from him and catch a very thick edge through to Matt Prior. He and Dravid had added 93 in almost 36 overs of skilled defiance.
Indeed, as Anderson and Stuart Broad struggled to impose themselves in the opening hour, both Laxman and Dravid had broken out of their previously defensive mode to play some sparkling strokes. One extra cover four by Laxman, eased to the boundary off Bresnan, was followed by a superlative pull for four off Anderson when he was switched to the Pavilion End.
Another beautifully timed extra cover drive took Laxman to his half-century, as well as being his tenth four, and Strauss was also handicapped in the field by the absence of Graeme Swann until just after the mid-morning drinks break. Swann needed more treatment on his left hand, badly bruised by the ball from Praveen Kumar which dismissed him yesterday, and it will be a relief for England’s captain when – during the afternoon session – he will be able to call on Swann’s off breaks to supplement his seamers.
As it was, he had to employ Jonathan Trott’s military medium for some variety pre-lunch, and mistakenly kept him on when Laxman was out and Tendulkar replaced him at the crease.
Strauss should have thrown the ball back to Anderson immediately but instead allowed Trott to continue from the Radcliffe Road End. The result was an over costing ten runs and, after Dravid had coolly run him through the gully region for four and then taken a single, Tendulkar got off the mark with a dismissive back foot force through extra cover that scorched to the boundary rope.