Sunday, August 12, 2007

England’s team effort

It seems to be an innings where every played his part. I’m referring to the first innings of the current Oval test between India and England. Yes, the Indian team surprised themselves more than anyone else (none more so than Kumble, of course) by such a massively brilliant team effort that every individual got into double figures with the bat. But that wasn’t the only team effort on display.

Every one of England’s bowlers got among the wickets. Including their new bowling find, Kevin Pietersen, who so very expertly bought Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s wicket and finished with a return of one for 41 in 6 not-so-threatening overs.

Ryan Sidebottom was unlucky, both in terms of not getting returns off his good deliveries and the, ahem, side strain that kept him out of the attack when Kumble was busy establishing himself as the official all-rounder in the Indian team. But Arnie’s son had already kept the scorers busy by getting Dinesh Karthik with so faint an edge that only the batsman and the umpire were privy to it – Snicko didn’t catch it, so bully to technology. Ryan’s figures? One for 93 in 32 overs of hard large-hearted effort.

Chris Tremlett was the man marked as England’s Big Hope for the game by no less a soothsayer than that old wizard, Steve Harmison. But Tremlett seemed to think that he was in the team just to bowl short to Sachin Tendulkar. Tremlett did, Tendulkar countered him patiently, and the Big Hope had to settle for just the wicket of VVS Laxman and figures of 40-6-132-1.

Monty Panesar, ah poor Monty! This was probably the harshest test for him. And that he had to be removed because he was distraught with the treatment meted out to him sums up his performance. He bowled longs spells without particularly being threatening, and to be honest, the two wickets he picked up (Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth) were no consolation really, when you have figures that read 45 overs, 5 maidens, 159 runs. 2 wickets. The next man in this list prevented Monty from entering the record books for a not-so-glorious achievement.

James Anderson. He was both England’s best bowler and worst. He started as if his ambition in life was to emulate Harmison of the 2006 Ashes – wide, wider and even wider. Wasim Jaffer (or is it Salim, as the Indian manager apparently referred to him as?) gifted Anderson his wicket to get things started. Then came that peach to Rahul Dravid. Tendulkar’s was a tame dismissal and the RP Singh return catch was a good reflex effort. And along the way, Anderson kept leaking runs at 4.5 runs an over, and picked up the record for the most prodigal returns for an English bowler against India – four wickets for 182 runs in 40 overs. Monty sits second on that list with his consummate performance.

Even Paul Collingwood was not to be denied. He managed to convince umpire Ian Howell that an inside edge is no impediment to an lbw decision, and thus ended with the wicket of Ganguly, amidst figures of one for 11 in seven otherwise eventless overs.

As I write this, England are all but all out in their first innings, and it hasn’t quite been a team effort on the batting front. May be if India enforces the follow-on, England can take a shot at that in their second innings. If they fail, they can at least console themselves with the fact that all their bowlers came to the party. Just that India perhaps ended with 300 runs more than England would have liked.

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