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Friday, 29 July 2011

Sporting pitch makes for brilliant test cricket

It is early in the test match at Trent Bridge but gratitude of all followers of test cricket is in order to the curator and his team. A match which swings by the session, with battles in each passage of play, where skills of batsmen and bowlers are continuously examined, really makes for engaging viewing. It elevates test match cricket to it's pedestal, which connoisseurs of the game relish most.

The bowlers had a significant impact most of the day on the first day of the match. With Dhoni winning a crucial toss again, he certainly did the right thing by putting the opposition in. Certainly Strauss would have done the same, given the overcast conditions and the grass on the surface.

Sreesanth, an ideal test match bowler, albeit still lacking the required temperament, bowled most of his spells in the right areas, asking tough questions of the English top order. Praveen and Ishant chipped in with good efforts and actually better figures. But for me Sreesanth was the bowler of the day. Bhajji looked pretty ordinary, and one hopes will have a bigger role in England's second outing.

The honours of the day belonged to Stuart Broad, who is suddenly at the peak of his prowess. His brilliant counter attack alongside Swann made exciting viewing. From what looked like a 120-130 all out situation, Broad's aggressive effort helped England to a very respectable 221. At Trent Bridge that is pretty much game on. At present Broad is what Flintoff was in the Ashes 2005 series, and that is saying something. At Lords he was devastating with the ball, and tomorrow could a big day for him again.

India have their task cut out. Despite a poor start, they held firm, thanks to ton loads of experience and skill of the two masters of their craft - Dravid and Laxman. But the 15 overs they played out will need to be repeated for the whole second day to get India into the drivers seat in this match and back into the series.

Day two at Trent Bridge could be a definitive day in the outcome of this series. With fitness issues sorted for Zaheer, Gautam and hopefully Sehwag, the third test will be a real tough contest. Both teams will work hard to win as many sessions on day two in this test. England could go ahead 2-0 if they wrap up the Indian innings cheaply. A 50 run lead will be gold dust. Conversely India will seek to play the whole day, and seek the same 50 run edge. What a big day ahead, it will be a battle to witness.

It will come down discipline in bowling, accepting tough chances and the rub of the green. For the famous Indian middle order, it will require bringing all their skill and ability to the party. For once it is pleasing that no one really cares if Sachin gets his hundredth century or not. That is how it should be.

So go on gladiators, entertain us!
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