November 24, 2001

England's batting crumbles as Hyderabad encounter ends in draw

It was a day that began well yet ended in jitters for the touring England team. With fans keenly watching the performance of an England side whose batting is its greater strength, the tourists won themselves no admirers by ending on 163/9. The Test series is just around the corner and the familiar murmurs of a 3-0 India result are doing the rounds once more. That might be a bit harsh on the visitors, and yet, one can't help but wonder what they would do in the face of the superior Indian bowling attack.

It was a day however, that began with England on the field. Powered by a workmanlike 149 from Tamil Nadu opener Sridharan Sriram, the Indian Board President's XI team made it to 339/7 declared at lunch on the third and final day of this warm-up match at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad. Jacob Martin (89) added just six runs to his overnight score before being bowled by Matthew Hoggard. When the partnership for the third wicket was finally broken, it was worth a massive 202 runs.

Rohan Gavaskar (24) played an attractive cameo, as he has done so many times in the past, but could not go on to make a significant score.

Trailing by 19 runs, England got off to a bad start, with more than 50 overs to be played out. Michael Vaughan, who has had a lacklustre start to the tour of India, failed to get going once more, being cleaned up by a quick delivery from Tinu Yohannan that slipped past the bat and uprooted the stumps. Vaughan added to his first innings 22, a second innings 18.

Mark Butcher, taking his time over getting his eye in, faced 32 balls for his 12, before nicking a ball from left-arm seamer Surendra Singh through to the 'keeper. The other big hope for England in this tour of the subcontinent, Graham Thorpe failed with the bat. The usually compact middle-order batsman played at a ball well away from his body and ended up dragging the ball onto his stumps. Sanjay Bangar picked up his third wicket of the match when Thorpe departed on 13.

Nasser Hussain, who has looked the most comfortable and yet is not the most prolific of the England batsmen, got his eye in for 38 before he spooned a sharp catch to Murali Kartik at deep gully off the bowling of Sanjay Bangar.

Mark Ramprakash (32) with a steady hand kept one side going, but wickets continued to fall at regular intervals and England were 163/9 off 51 overs when the match was called off after tea. With the eight mandatory overs bowled, the game was declared a draw when the two teams agreed they'd had enough.

The revelation of the day however, was Sanjay Bangar's medium-pace. Bowling with great control, the Railways medium-pacer consistently got the ball to move both ways in the air. Although a trifle lucky to trap Richard Dawson in front, there was no doubting the fact that Bangar richly deserved his haul of 5/34.

Traveling to Jaipur to play their final warm-up match before the Test series begins, England face an uphill task. Of their batsmen, none other that Ramprakash has spent significant time out in the middle. The bowlers have struggled, and although Ball picked up 3 wickets, the skipper must know that is going to be an entirely different ball game bowling to the batting rich Indian team.

Hussain will have to be positive and put up a brave face for his team. However, there is already enough evidence to show that this England team will struggle against an energised India at home.