December 11, 2001

India fight back after strong England start

Anil Kumble took five wickets to put India back in the driving seat after England made an excellent start to the second Test in Ahmedabad. Marcus Trescothick fell agonisingly short of his third Test century and England ended the day on 277 for 6.

The day started with the disconcerting news that England were going into the match without their premier batsman. Graham Thorpe, who is flying home to sort out personal matters, will take no further part in the series. His place went to Yorkshire's Michael Vaughan, and Ashley Giles returned to the side in place of James Ormond. India also made two changes, with Virender Sehwag replacing the injured Sanjay Bangar and fit-again Javagal Srinath coming in for Iqbal Siddiqui. Nasser Hussain chose to bat after winning the toss, and the game got under way half an hour late due to early morning dew.

Although Mark Butcher was initially the freer-scoring of England's two openers, it was Trescothick's innings that eventually made the greater impression. On a sluggish pitch each batsman made the most of anything loose, and Sourav Ganguly introduced Harbhajan Singh as early as the 10th over. Despite early signs of turn on a slower wicket than Mohali, both left-handers remained positive, with Trescothick sweeping Harbhajan through midwicket and Butcher taking four more from Srinath through the covers. By lunch England had reached 79 without loss.

The hapless Shiv Sunder Das had to leave the field early in the afternoon session, after being struck painfully on the shoulder at short leg as Trescothick swept Kumble right off the meat. When Srinath dropped short, the Somerset left-hander pulled him fiercely to the midwicket boundary, following up with a superb drive through the covers.

After reaching his 50 and bringing up England's hundred in the process, Trescothick welcomed Harbhajan back into the attack by swinging him for a heady six over midwicket. Butcher completed his own 50 by coming down the pitch to Harbhajan and taking four through mid-on. But Kumble then immediately accounted for Butcher, who got a thin edge to a ball that was angled across him outside the off stump, giving wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta a straightforward catch.

Hussain had made just one when he was given out lbw to Kumble, playing round a googly which looked as though it might be going down the legside. Vaughan, after some early good fortune, was sawn off without ceremony by umpire Ian Robinson, caught at short leg off Kumble as the ball appeared to go straight off his pad. At tea England had reached 176 for 3 with Trescothick unbeaten on 99.

The interval plainly didn't agree with him; he was unnerved by a brilliant over from Kumble, eventually edging to Dasgupta to fall one short of his hundred. England subsided to 185 for 5 when Flintoff, pushing defensively at Kumble, was caught off bat and pad without scoring by VVS Laxman at silly point.

Ramprakash was prepared to chance his arm in adversity, pulling Kumble for six over midwicket, and his attacking mood rubbed off on Craig White as the Yorkshireman dropped on one knee to drive Harbhajan for four through the covers. But Sachin Tendulkar regained India's momentum with the first ball of a new spell, bowling Ramprakash off his pads with a quicker ball as he went back on to his stumps.

White and James Foster took England watchfully to the close, Foster cashing in on two loose balls from Tendulkar, boosting his own confidence with boundaries through cover and midwicket. White mixed caution with occasional aggression as the two batsmen ended the day quietly against the spinners. There had been no Mohali-style collapse, but India must still be fancying their chances.