Thursday, August 02, 2007

Clippings: Escape from the Lord's jail

LONDON (Agencies)
England were agonisingly denied a win over India on the fifth and final day of the first test at Lord's on Monday after bad light and then rain prevented any play after tea and the match was drawn. India, set 380 to win, were teetering on 282 for nine and still 98 away from victory when the weather that had been forecast eventually arrived to save them. Top scorer Mahendra Singh Dhoni defied his natural attacking urges to play a resilient innings of 76 from 159 balls. Last man Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was four not out after surviving an lbw scare against Monty Panesar. "We got out of jail, I think, truly, we got saved by the weather today," India captain Rahul Dravid told reporters, before adding that he had hoped the umpires would have stepped in to offer the light sooner. "As a batting team in those conditions we would have wanted them to have stepped in a little earlier as we could have lost a wicket but if I was the fielding side I would have been doing the same so I have no problems with how it was handled." England, who scored 298 in their first innings and then bowled India out for 201, compiled a big lead with a second innings 282 largely thanks to Kevin Pietersen's 134, which he described as the best of his nine test centuries. The teams meet again at Trent Bridge on Friday, with India buoyed by their close escape which denied England a fourth successive test win. "That's just the English weather for you," England captain Michael Vaughan said, before praising his inexperienced bowling attack after a spate of injuries kept out Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard. "We batted well to set the game up, especially Kevin Pietersen and I thought our young bowlers put the ball in the right areas and put an experienced Indian batting line-up under pressure. It's probably the best we've bowled since 2005. "But in 2005 (when England beat Australia) we put that kind of performance in game after game so we will have to do the same at Nottingham..." HARD FIGHT India resumed on 137 for three and lost overnight batsmen Saurav Ganguly (40) and Dinesh Karthik (60) within the first half hour before VVS Laxman and Dhoni fought hard with a stand of 86. Ganguly, who scored 136 on test debut at Lord's 11 years ago, departed first when he played down the wrong line and was lbw to left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom. Opener Karthik was soon tempted into edging James Anderson to Paul Collingwood at second slip for 60. His three and a half hour innings did not receive any applause from his team mates on the balcony. Dhoni lived dangerously early on, edging spinner Panesar in between slip and wicketkeeper when on 14. Collingwood was unable to react quickly enough to take a difficult chance diving to his left. Dhoni was also fortunate on 21 when umpire Steve Bucknor rejected Panesar's lbw appeal, with the batsman on the back foot. Television replays suggested he was out. He also survived a convincing caught behind appeal off James Anderson on 28. Laxman perished after the lunch break when he went back to a delivery from Chris Tremlett only to be bowled for 39 after the ball kept low. That was 231 for six. Anil Kumble was the 14th lbw victim of the match (the record is 17), beaten by a Sidebottom in-swinger and Zaheer Khan was caught down the leg side off debutant Tremlett for a duck. Rudra Pratap Singh played an ill-judged attacking shot and was bowled by Panesar for two. That was 263 for nine. Anderson, playing his first home test for three years, took seven wickets in the match and claimed a career best five for 42 in the first innings. India's Sachin Tendulkar became the third-most prolific batsman in test history in the match by overtaking Steve Waugh's tally of 10,927 runs.

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