England v India, 2nd Test, Trent Bridge July 27, 2011

A paradise for pace bowlers

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan
After a poor display in the first Test, India will face an uphill task at a venue which has heavily favoured pace bowling in recent times

Stiff test ahead for India
England produced an excellent all-round performance to win the first Test by a huge margin of 196 runs. Injury-hit India, who were outclassed with bat and ball, will go into the second Test at Trent Bridge fully aware of the fact that another win for England would mean a serious threat to their No.1 ranking. On the other hand, England will be wary of India's ability to bounce back immediately after a defeat. Traditionally poor starters on tours, India have fought back to win the second Test against South Africa and the third Test against Sri Lanka in the last two years after being 1-0 down. On their previous England tour in 2007, India won the second Test at Trent Bridge following a narrow escape in the first Test at Lord's. However, Zaheer Khan, India's best bowler on that occasion, is likely to miss the second Test this time, making it a tough task for India to mount a comeback.

Fast bowlers dominate at Trent Bridge
Among English venues, Lord's and the Oval have traditionally been batting friendly. This is not quite the case with Trent Bridge, the venue for the second Test. Since 2005, it has proved to be one of the toughest batting venues in the world with only Sabina Park having a lower runs-per-wicket figure. While batsmen have found the going very difficult at the venue, pace bowlers have enjoyed the friendly conditions. Trent Bridge has witnessed 13 five-wicket hauls in the 10 Tests it has hosted since 2000. On the other hand, there have been only 15 centuries in 10 games there, a century-per-Test rate much lower than other venues in England. Although English pace bowlers have a better record at most home venues as compared to their overseas counterparts, visiting bowlers have been able to match up to the home bowlers more often than not at Trent Bridge.

James Anderson, who bowled superbly to pick up 5 for 65 in India's second innings at Lord's, has had an outstanding time at Trent Bridge. With his bowling style ideally suited to the conditions, he has picked up 28 wickets in four Tests at the venue with four five-wicket hauls and a ten-wicket haul. Anderson, who picked up 6 for 17 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge last year, has an average of 15.89 which is the best among bowlers who have captured 20 or more wickets at the venue. With Zaheer unlikely to play, the Indian pace attack which impressed in patches in the first Test, will be hard pressed to deliver against England's in-form line-up. Although spinners average under 28 in Tests played at Trent Bridge since 2000, the figures are improved vastly due to the performance of Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan. While the two spin greats together have picked up 27 wickets at an average of 12.40, the other spinners have struggled for impact, picking up 40 wickets at an average over 38. Harbhajan SIngh, who had a forgettable first Test, has generally gone on to bowl much better as the series progresses. For India to pose a strong threat, he has to raise his level at a venue where he returned ordinary match figures of 3 for 175 on his last visit.

Pace bowlers at each ground in England since 2000 (min eight matches)- excluding neutral matches
Ground Matches England (Wickets/avg) Visiting team(Wickets/avg) England (5WI/10WM) Visiting teams (5WI/10WM)
Trent Bridge 10 146/27.00 121/30.73 8/1 5/0
Old Trafford 9 121/28.15 88/36.84 4/1 3/0
Lord's 24 336/28.41 242/41.36 11/0 12/2
Edgbaston 10 119/31.58 99/35.96 3/0 1/0
Headingley 9 118/32.58 152/29.69 3/0 5/0
Oval 11 118/34.64 114/37.61 3/0 4/0

Batsmen find the going tough
The batting difficulties at Trent Bridge can be understood from the innings-wise stats at the venue. The average in the first innings (33.69) is the lowest among all grounds in England except Edgbaston. While the second-innings average is also low, the third and fourth-innings stats clearly indicate that batsmen have found it very hard to impose themselves in Tests at Trent Bridge. The third-innings average (27.08) and fourth-innings average (21.40) are the lowest among all venues with only Headingley and Edgbaston having similar third-innings stats. The number of centuries in each match innings at Trent Bridge also drops sharply from nine in the first innings to two in the second innings. In sharp contrast, Lord's and the Oval have been much better venues for batting as the match goes on. Old Trafford, in particular has demonstrated a tendency to flatten out in the final innings, and has an average over 45 in Tests played since 2000.

Innings-wise stats for English grounds in Tests since 2000 - (average, 100/50)
Ground Matches 1st innings 2nd innings 3rd innings 4th innings
Lord's 25 41.16, 25/34 31.35,14/30 35.22, 18/34 35.17, 3/17
Oval 11 41.92, 7/24 35.37, 8/17 31.32, 5/11 37.72, 2/5
Headingley 10 36.58, 10/9 36.32, 7/13 27.14, 2/13 28.53, 1/5
Trent Bridge 10 33.69, 9/14 31.97, 2/16 27.08, 3/12 21.40, 1/3
Edgbaston 10 30.94, 4/10 38.06, 8/17 27.47, 4/13 35.25, 1/4
Old Trafford 9 36.36, 6/14 30.14, 7/6 27.87, 4/8 45.43, 4/4

England's improved record at the venue
The 196-run win in the first Test at Lord's was England's 11th at the venue against India. After winning only four out of 23 Tests at Lord's between 1984 and 2000 , England have won 13 and lost just three of the 24 Tests played there since. Although their recent record at Trent Bridge is not as awe inspiring, it is still an improvement over their earlier performances. England won and lost an even number of Tests at Trent Bridge till the 1990s (11) and this trend continued in the 1990s too as they won and lost two Tests. However, since 2000, they have won five and lost three Tests. After the loss to Australia in 2001, England won three of their next four Tests at the venue including a three-wicket win in the fourth Test of the 2005 Ashes. Following consecutive losses to Sri Lanka and India in 2006 and 2007, England have been undefeated since at Trent Bridge, with massive wins over New Zealand and Pakistan. Another noticeable trend at the venue has been the fall in batting averages of England and visiting teams in the last decade. While England's average has fallen from over 40 in the 1990s to 30.28 since 2000, visiting teams' average has dropped from 33.41 to 28.40.

England's record at Trent Bridge
Period Played Won Lost Drawn W/L ratio Batting avg Bowling avg
Overall 55 18 16 21 1.12 33.95 30.82
Till 1990s 37 11 11 15 1.00 33.78 30.84
1990s 8 2 2 4 1.00 40.36 33.41
2000-2011 10 5 3 2 1.66 30.28 28.77

Contrasting batting records for teams
India, who have not lost in their last three visits to Trent Bridge, will be reassured by the fact that the ground has been a happy venue for their top batsmen. Sachin Tendulkar, who struggled with his fitness in the previous Test, has been superb at Trent Bridge, scoring nearly 500 runs at an average over 78 with a century and three half-centuries. Rahul Dravid, who became Test cricket's second-highest run-getter during his century at Lord's has also been impressive at the venue, with an average of 53 in six innings. But VVS Laxman, whose form generally tends to get better as the series goes on, will do well to improve on an otherwise ordinary record there.

The situation is quite the opposite for the in-form English batsmen. None of the batsmen including the captain Andrew Strauss have made any impression in Tests played at Trent Bridge. Kevin Pietersen, the double centurion in the first Test, has scored nearly 300 runs but his average of 32.55 is well below his career record. Alastair Cook and Ian Bell have been highly disappointing in Tests at Trent Bridge. While Cook averages 17.28 in seven innings, Bell has managed to aggregate just 37 runs in his five innings there.

Performance of English and Indian batsmen at Trent Bridge (Tests since 1995)
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100/50
Andrew Strauss 11 267 24.27 0/2
Kevin Pietersen 9 293 32.55 1/0
Alastair Cook 7 121 17.28 0/0
Ian Bell 5 37 7.40 0/0
Sachin Tendulkar 6 469 78.16 1/3
Rahul Dravid 6 268 53.60 1/1
VVS Laxman 3 90 30.00 0/1