Ruthless English pester hapless India
Birmingham: Day 2 of the Edgbaston Test closed in the usual way with England riding high and the Indians reeling behind, way behind.
For England, it was Alastair Cook’s time to be in the limelight as the highest run-getter in Tests in 2011 rested his case of poor form with a majestic century to propel England to a lead of 232 against India at the close of Day 2 at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
For India, it was the drooping shoulders, hands in the pockets and the perplexed looks that were on display.
It was a wretched day for India to say the least as England piled up a mammoth 372 runs in the day to finish off at 456 for three.
Alastair Cook was unbeaten with 182 along with Eion Morgan (44) who was dropped twice in the day.
Indian bowlers toiled hard without any rewards. Praveen Kumar lead the way with 32 overs while Ishant and Sreesanth managed 25 and 22 respectively with an economy of four.
England on top on close of Day 2 would be an understatement and talks of No.1 Test team seems to be a joke as the hosts scripted the day where India got a heavy pounding.
India started the day with their backs on the wall and ended at the dearth of dusts. India were lethargic in the field whereas English batsmen were focused as ever.
If the npower series has been a one-sided affair so far Day 2 of the Edgbaston Test exemplified why it was so. England took the upper hand in the morning session; England dominated the second session and then England finished off the day with a perfect evening session.
India had the chance of redeeming themselves in the morning after a poor batting performance and Indian bowlers did have the spring in their steps. They bowled rather decently, Praveen swung the ball pitching it right to beat the English bat on numerous occasions.
Ishant Sharma bent his back and bowled wicket to wicket and kept on probing the off-stump line. S Sreesanth stuck to his seam producing absolute jaffas here and there.
Amit Mishra got the ball to turn and bounce.
But the only down fall was that they failed to fill up their wickets column. India needed to own the morning session to have any chance of making a match out the one-sided affair but the visitors seemed down and out.
Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook were the only players yet to click in the English batting line-up and getting them early was the only chance India had to put up a fight.
But by lunch the openers had racked up their 11 century stand moving up to fourth in the all time list of century alliances as they looked settled than ever in the series.
Strauss and Cook played like openers, waiting for the ball to come to them unlike the Indians who kept on pushing and poking.
The England openers played out 16 maidens before lunch evidently hinting at the patience displayed by both Strauss and Cook on a tricking wicket.
Their patience was well complimented by some thoughtful shot selection and quick running between the wickets whenever they were bogged down by relentless bowling of PK.
They build a platform for rest of the batsmen to exploit and with the likes of Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen waiting in the docks Indians bowlers were toyed with like amateurs.
Only after 55 overs did India had the chance to rejoice when Amit Mishra castled Captain Andrew Strauss for 87. But even the celebration seemed nothing more than a sigh of relief.
Even a diehard optimist would have been sceptic about this wicket boosting India’s moral with that kind of a celebration.
In came Ian Bell and with some positive intend he went about his business with pompous elegance.
Dhoni seemed to have had an attack of brain freeze as he failed to force any change in the field even as Bell started milking runs through the third man area.
Bell was dropped at first slip by Dravid but his stay in the middle did not last long as Praveen Kumar produced a magical delivery that squared up Bell (34) and took his off-stump for a walk in the park. Praveen Kumar’s leg cutter swung late evading Bell’s bat to knock off the wickets.
Though the bowling effort was comparably better than previous day’s performance, India lacked the spirit.
Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar bowled admirably but in patches. Sreesanth bowled with a big heart constantly hitting the right area but could not find a chink in the English amour.
After lunch with sun coming out and the morning dampness gone, the English relished the ideal batting conditions to the fullest.
Cook had been struggling throughout the series and had started off a bit scratchy, but struck it out in the middle to complete a resolute century.
He hit sixteen fours en route to the ton, some were off wide deliveries, some of edges and some were out of compulsion of being a class player.
He frayed to and fro with ease, sometimes coming forward with a solid defence and for driving the ball on the up and on other times, rocking back effortlessly to execute some precision cuts and authoritative pulls.
Kevin Pietersen also enjoyed his time in the middle shuffling across and coming down the wicket with arrogance to help himself with a breezy half century (63) before being trapped leg before wicket to Praveen Kumar.
Alastair cook on the other hand stood firm and going into tea he had put England on the driver’s seat. The new ball was taken just before the tea and after the break Pietersen started utilising the new ball to up the ante late in the day.
KP’s departure would have ringed the bells for Eion Morgan and he went hammer and tongs right from the onset before settling himself to see off the day along with Alastair Cook.
Late in the day Morgan presented two simple chances spilled first by Sreesanth and then by Rahul Dravid. Then there were midfields, fumbles and lack of motivation and spirit summing up the entire day for India.
India’s performance by no means was awful but the attitude seemed hopeless. England looked like a champion team, ruthless to put it best.