Somerset v Indians, Taunton, 2nd day July 16, 2011

Willoughby leaves Indians in tatters


Indians 138 for 8 (Willoughby 5-50) trail Somerset 425 for 3 dec (Suppiah 156, Compton 88, Strauss 78, Jones 50*) by 287 runs

India's difficult preparations ahead of the first Test continued as their big-name batting order stumbled against Charl Willoughby after watching Somerset pile up 425 for 3 at Taunton. Willoughby claimed 5 for 50, including four scalps in his opening spell, and was backed up by his team-mates as the visitors closed on 138 for 8 with the follow-on looming, although the hosts are unlikely to enforce it.

Heavy rain then frequent showers delayed play until mid-afternoon and Somerset batted on until shortly before the 100-over allocation of their first innings. It then took the home side less than 18 overs to take more wickets than the visitors managed in 96 as Willoughby, the former South Africa seamer, cut through a star-studded line-up. The home side bowled far better than the Indians, finding a hint of swing, but were aided by some poor shots and not just from players who have been on the sidelines.

The Indians began briskly as Gautam Gambhir, returning from the shoulder injury that kept him out of the West Indies tour, collected five confident boundaries. But he seemed in too much of a rush and fell chasing a delivery he could barely reach, edging it to the keeper. Abhinav Mukund, who is set to open the batting in the absence of Virender Sehwag, was more circumspect and didn't seem happy with his lbw decision which left India 51 for 2 and brought Sachin Tendulkar to the crease.

Tendulkar, as with Gambhir and Zaheer Khan, hasn't played a first-class game since the final Test against South Africa in early January - a gap of more than six months. It showed even from Tendulkar as he had more nervous moments reaching double figures than he would have in getting to a hundred. He survived a close shout for lbw against Alfonso Thomas, then slashed flat-footedly at a wide delivery, but also played a couple of elegant drives.

He was beginning to settle and had moved to 26 when he drove at 19-year-old Craig Meschede's fourth ball and edged through to Jos Buttler. It was Meschede's maiden first-class wicket and one he'll be able to regale stories about for years to come. He might be seeking out Tendulkar to sign the match ball.

By then, the Indians had already lost other senior batsmen. Rahul Dravid edged an uncharacteristically airy drive to second slip and Willoughby had his fourth wicket when Yuvraj Singh was trapped lbw for a duck. Willoughby's performance showed the value of a left-arm seamer which is a variation England are missing in their attack after the retirement of Ryan Sidebottom.

After Tendulkar's departure the slide continued as Wriddhiman Saha fell to Peter Trego without scoring. Following a brief recovery Zaheer Khan lost his middle stump when he played back to Thomas and Amit Mishra spooned to point to give Willoughby his five-wicket haul. Suresh Raina at least remained firm until the close but it wasn't a distinguished performance.

Earlier, the Indian bowlers had only managed to add one further scalp as Arul Suppiah was removed for a career-best 156. Zaheer and Sreesanth were both given another bowl, the former to try to find rhythm ahead of the Test and the latter to try and force his way into contention. It was Sreesanth who broke through when Suppiah, having passed his previous best of 151, edged to first slip where Dravid held a low catch.

However, the visitor's intensity was well down and they were happy to wait for Somerset's declaration. Mishra, back on the field after taking a blow on the finger yesterday, continued to have trouble with no-balls, taking his tally to 12 for the innings. There was was also some friendly part-time spin served up by Raina and Yuvraj.

Chris Jones, a 20-year-old batsman starting to force his way into the first eleven, took advantage to register a confident half-century from 69 balls and James Hildreth, the England Lions captain, eased his way to 30 off 28 balls include a huge six over long-on off Mishra. The presumption was that the Indians would also cash in on good batting conditions, but Andrew Strauss will have liked what he saw while standing at first slip.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajesh on July 17, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    All those English fans licking ur lips. Look at the way we responded in our second innings. Our guys are coming to terms with the wickets there. All the best guys. Give the POMS a sound trashing that they will not forget easily

  • Dummy4 on July 17, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    @all english,sl,indian,aussie,Sa,Pak fans : calm vats the big fuss.even the best of the best top class Aussie team of 90s was beaten by Mumbai Ranji team in 1998 n tht by 10 wickets.if tht Aussie team can fail miserably against Indian domestic side in a tour practice match,y cant India fail too in a practice match ven most of u dont find Indian team comparable to tht Aussie team.n ven most of fans lyk astrologers have foreseen the test series trophy given to their respective sides then y the hell Ind and Eng playing this series n wasting time.the trophy should be given straight forward to foreseen calm down guys n enjoy cricket.

  • Dummy4 on July 17, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    My memory fails me whenever I try to think when was the last time English team won against Indian team in a test series; home or away!

    Hope and false pride are making hardcore English fans read too much in an inconsequential match. It is not BCCI that Indian team is undefeated in a test series for almost 3 years, it is the team. India baiters are talking about fallacy of ratings but they should think rationally, if a team is undefeated in any test series for 3 years then it has to be the number one.

    Just because English team has managed to defeat the depleted Austrailian side (which was earlier thrashed 2-0 by India which started their downfall) doesn't mean there ain't better teams.

  • Prashant on July 17, 2011, 12:41 GMT

    Raina has shown what is in store for us in the series, the only way to defend is to attack. He's our substitute for Sehwag. Whenever we'll need some quick runs, he can be promoted. Also just defending and not scoring runs won't win us matches, we need someone like him who has got all the gears with him. I am expecting some good positive cricket from India in the series. Go India go.

  • Balraj on July 17, 2011, 12:30 GMT

    The batting display is not as much a worry as Sachin,Laxman, Dravid , Gambhi retc are going to get in the grove soon It is the ineffectiveness of the bowling attack which is going to prove team india's nemesis. The opening pair is another worry. Without a decent start there is always going to a huge pressure for the follow up batsmen. In Westi Indies this was the main reason that rest of the team never got going.

  • Eshwar on July 17, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    Well this has been a trend for quite some time now. India always fumbles during a start of series or in a dead rubber where we have already won.

  • Dummy4 on July 17, 2011, 12:08 GMT

    i cant think of any other result other than india winning this series by whatever margin.england....much ado about nothing!!

  • Dummy4 on July 17, 2011, 11:47 GMT


  • Dummy4 on July 17, 2011, 11:41 GMT

    @Ian316: English were dismissed for 51 against WI in Jamaica and 187 & 123 against Aus in Perth. Does that make them a bad side?

  • Ajay on July 17, 2011, 11:37 GMT

    What a century by raina he should be in the team for 1st test ...

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