September 6, 2002

India lose Sehwag after England post 515

The short odds on a draw at the start of the final npower Test look increasingly justified, after India closed on 66 for one at stumps on the second day at The AMP Oval in reply to England's 515. Andrew Caddick made the one breakthrough after India had taken 12 runs from the first two overs, as Virender Sehwag, who had already struck two boundaries, was caught by Dominic Cork at second slip as he edged a firm-footed drive. Rahul Dravid was unbeaten on 31 at stumps, with Sanjay Bangar on 17.

After Caddick switched ends, Alex Tudor's introduction at the pavilion end was initially expensive, as Dravid took three boundaries off his first over. Apparently embarrassed by such exuberance, India's number three promptly went into his shell for the rest of the day, as he and Bangar settled on survival. Nasser Hussain tried seven bowling changes, turning to Hoggard, Giles, Cork and Vaughan in an unavailing attempt to winkle out another wicket.

Earlier Harbhajan Singh ended with five wickets, after Michael Vaughan again missed out on a double century. Vaughan began with boundaries through extra cover and third man off Ajit Agarkar, before pushing indeterminately at Zaheer Khan. Ajay Ratra snapped up the resulting edge, and one could only imagine Vaughan's agony at falling within five runs of a maiden Test 200 for the second time in four innings. He had made 195 (29 fours, 279 balls), and although few in the crowd had seen much of his innings the applause was wholehearted and sympathetic. Only three other batsmen - Everton Weekes, Ian Chappell and Mohammed Azharuddin - have twice been out in the 190s in Test history, while Frank Worrell got there twice without being subsequently dismissed.

Nasser Hussain drove his second ball through extra cover, and the woeful Agarkar was dispatched in like manner by John Crawley. But the introduction of Bangar proved masterly; after two maidens, primarily of away swing, he got one to hold its own to trap Crawley lbw for 26 with a ball that would have hit middle and off. Alec Stewart arrived accompanied by gathering cloud, which was enough to send the players towards the pavilion, only to about turn before they got there as the light suddenly improved. The interruption certainly didn't help Hussain, who after unsuccessfully trying to banish a pigeon from an adjacent pitch, drove impatiently at Bangar for VVS Laxman to hold the catch at the second attempt at second slip.

Cork stepped up the pace after lunch, with boundaries either side of the wicket off Bangar and Agarkar, but the return of Harbhajan, who had bowled just one over in the first session, re-kindled Indian hopes. First Stewart, after an uncharacteristically quiet 23, edged a straight ball to Ratra, and Alex Tudor made just two before departing in similar fashion, snicking to Rahul Dravid at first slip.

Cork justified his position at number seven with a worthy 50, but after adding just two more he was lbw to Harbhajan, hitting across the line. A flurry of boundaries from Giles took England past 500 before Giles succumbed for an excellent 31, caught by Dravid at slip off Kumble. Harbhajan then took his fifth wicket to wrap it up by dismissing Hoggard lbw first ball. It wasn't quite what England hoped for yesterday evening, but it was challenging nonetheless.