Trent Bridge (Nottingham): There could not have been a better advertisement of Test match cricket than what was on display on Day 2 of the second Test match between India and England at Trent Bridge.
If the Saturday morning crowd were treated with the class act of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, the evening was much better and much more exciting than a T20 fixture.
Rahul Dravid was the protagonist in the first half with a monumental knock, a century that defied the English attack, a century carved out of concentration, skill and calibre, a chanceless innings leading to a flawless ton.
Local lad Stuart Broad stepped in to finish off the act after tea. He took India, literally by the scruff of its neck taking a six wicket haul which included a disputable hattrick, but hattrick nevertheless. He not only put England back in the game but asserted himself as the authorised game changer for the hosts.
VVS Laxman had a side role for a brief period in the morning as he showcased his wide array of shots with the usual lazy elegance. With Dravid on the other end, Laxman did steal the limelight for a bit before being undone by a beauty of a ball by Tim Bresnan.
In walked in Sachin Tendulkar, with the limelight of his own. But Dravid out of the glare of publicity chipped away at the English total.
When on 16, Sachin opted for a cross batted flash at a short of length delivery off Broad which nipped back in, eventually resulting into an edge straight to Strauss.
Raina then joined Dravid, he hopped all around the place for a while courtesy a very strategic move of short pitch bowling by Bresnan, Anderson and Broad. When it seemed he was tired of the hopping around, he presented a simple catch to Eion Morgan at point and walked back to the pavilion after few minutes of hard work.
By this point of time England were looking to crawl back into the match. Yuvraj had the trail of fire in front of him and after getting an early reprieve from Pietersen he got going. Dravid with his supreme technique and ultimate skill had built a wall of rock while Yuvraj gained confidence with each of his cross-batted heaves.
Yuvraj reached his milestone of fifty in quick time and minutes later in the 79th over against the current No. 1 Test bowler, Graeme Swann, Dravid paddle swept one to fine leg boundary to reach his 34th Test century; then came off the cap, the face looked calm and composed even as he received the well deserved applause from the crowds.
The 34th century of Rahul Dravid bore the trademark of ‘the wall’.
If runs were to be the bricks of the wall, the strong punches down the ground, the exquisite drives past cover region and the deft touches down to third man would have served as the binding cement.
He was a force to reckon with during his stay in the crease, a force epitomised by clam and composure.
When it was looking India would coast along with ease putting up a big lead, Stuart Broad came in the form of a massive halting anchor. If werewolfs came out at full moon, Stuart Broad probably becomes ‘Broader’ after tea.
On Day 1 after tea he produced the counter-attacking innings of 64 and on Day 2 he produced a game changing spell of fast bowling.
He started off by getting the better of Yuvraj. MS Dhoni came in next, played tentatively, and flashed an out swinger off Broad straight to slip.
He then got lucky to trap Harbhajan LBW as umpire Erasmus missed the big inside edge. Broad, on a hattrick in his home turf produced a delivery which nipped back in substantially to rattle the off stump of Praveen Kumar. Hattrick completed, Broad finished off Ishant with a rising delivery before Rahul Dravid had pressed the self destruct button.
England came into bat late in the day and Ishant Sharma sent Alastair Cook packing again for single digit. With Jonathan Trott out with an injury Bell walked in, and held the fort for England along with Skipper Andrew Strauss to see off the day at 24 for 1.