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July 24, 2011
India have made a conscious effort to speed up their over-rate to help the captain, MS Dhoni, avoid being banned for the next Test at Trent Bridge. Dhoni is currently sitting on two fines having previously been penalised against South Africa and West Indies leaving him one away from a suspension.
Although no official figures are yet available, as any over-rate penalties are only confirmed at the end of a Test, it is believed that India are significantly below the required 15 overs per hour that Test teams should be reaching. England aren't blameless - few sides reach the minimum requirement these days - but unlike Dhoni, Andrew Strauss doesn't currently have a record.
India's over-rate hasn't been helped by Dhoni himself deciding to bowl at various stages during the game, which meant changing equipment with Rahul Dravid, and Ishant Sharma admitted it was something the bowlers were being reminded of. "We did talk a lot about the over-rates," he said. "Dhoni just said take your time and carry on with your bowling but wherever we could cut a minute try and do that."
When Dhoni was recently fined following the Barbados Test against West Indies, India were found to be three overs behind their requirement at the end of the match so if the sums add up in the same way here Dhoni could be in trouble.
First and foremost, though, Dhoni will be concentrating on India trying to save this Test and escape Lord's still all-square in the series. Midway through the afternoon session it appeared his team could be without a key batsman as Gautam Gambhir left the field following a fierce blow at short leg from a Matt Prior sweep. However, x-rays revealed no break and he was back in the dressing room before play ended. "He is getting icing on his elbow and he will be fit to bat tomorrow," confirmed the team manager.
With Gambhir suffering an external blow he can bat at the fall of the next wicket if India opt to use him that way, but Sachin Tendulkar will have to wait until the time he was off the field has elapsed, or five wickets have fallen, after he missed the first two sessions to try and recover from a viral infection.
Tendulkar returned to Lord's and fielded after tea but if India don't lose five batsmen he'll need to wait until around 2pm on the final afternoon before he can come to the crease. It is likely to be his last chance to register a Test hundred at Lord's, but he'll be more concerned about helping his team secure a draw.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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