England v India, 2nd npower Test, Trent Bridge, 2nd day July 30, 2011

Dravid, Broad leave gripping Test in balance


England 221 and 24 for 1 trail India 288 (Dravid 117, Yuvraj 62, Laxman 54, Broad 6-46) by 43 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Deep into this series, if these two teams are level and if the injury list gets too long, we could have just Stuart Broad go against Rahul Dravid, and it would be a contest just as engrossing. On the second day of the Test, Dravid showed impeccable discipline, courage and skill in scoring his third century in the last five Tests before Broad brought England sensationally back, with a hat-trick and a spell that read 5.1-2-5-5 to keep India's lead to just 67. Dravid's support cast was stronger on the day, though: VVS Laxman charmed 54, Yuvraj Singh timed 62, and Ishant Sharma removed Alastair Cook before stumps to leave India ahead. For how long, though, is difficult to say in this Test with massive swings of fortune.

While there was much for both sides to be pleased about, there were major concerns too. England had trouble with injuries: Graeme Swann, who took a blow on the left hand while batting, remained ineffective after he came on to bowl in the 56th over, and Jonathan Trott might not be available to bat after he hurt his shoulder while fielding. India, on the other hand, lost wickets in two clusters: the first three for 46, the last six for 21.

All that with sun out, which made the conditions a touch easier, but it was hardly what batsmen would queue up to get a chance at. Two batsmen, though, the grand old men of Indian cricket, love exactly such challenges. And if injuries have put them in unusual batting positions, it becomes twice the fun. Dravid and Laxman came together when Abhinav Mukund fell first ball of the innings yesterday, survived the torturous last hour, and then played some blissful cricket in the morning, adding 69 in the first hour and a half, 56 of those in boundaries.

Their partnership was much more crucial and beautiful than the 93 runs might suggest. India's batting order was in disarray, they were coming off a disaster at Lord's, and the conditions were demanding. The two responded with positive yet tight cricket. Laxman played some gorgeous drives and mere pushes for fours through the off side, and Dravid exploited the vacant third man region. Laxman kept on pulling; it mattered little that the same shot resulted in his crucial dismissal in the second innings at Lord's. Dravid kept on leaving outswingers even marginally outside off, making sure he didn't repeat his crucial Lord's dismissal.

Both James Anderson and Broad swung the ball either way. However, the India batsmen, unlike yesterday, were not going to let them bowl where they wanted. The two hit four consecutive boundaries in the second and third over of the day; those 16 runs in four balls followed 24 off the first 100 legal deliveries of the innings.

The next hour was a masterclass, from Laxman in timing and placement, and from Dravid in holding one end up. Singles weren't bothered about. The first time they changed ends was in the 12th over of the day, when Laxman flicked one straight to fine leg. Only Anderson came close to getting a wicket, but the Hot Spot didn't register an edge off an outswinger.

The scoring-rate and the mesmerising stroke-play might have created an impression that the bowlers were not in the game had the England quicks not kept asking questions with the occasional inswinger or the extra bounce. The bat kept coming down in time for the inswingers, and although one of the short ones hit Dravid on the wrist, the two negotiated the bounce well. They had built a solid base for India before Tim Bresnan bowled the perfect outswinger to send Laxman back for 54.

Dravid, having popped a painkiller after the blow to the wrist, kept up the vigil. England showed they would keep fighting as they took out Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina to turn 93 for 1 into 139 for 4. Dravid, despite all the funny bounce, movement and momentary physical discomfort, stood resolute at 51 then. It was a clever effort. Out of those 51, 40 came in boundaries, fully utilising the attacking fields.

In a crucial spell for the match and for Yuvraj's career, Kevin Pietersen dropped Yuvraj on four. Unlike at Lord's India made England pay for that drop with a 128-run partnership, the biggest of the match. Apart from that drop, Yuvraj was authoritative and opportunistic against every loose delivery, especially against spin - 41 of his 62 came against Swann and Pietersen. For Dravid, the fields finally fell back, and he started working the singles. As the new ball approached, Dravid reached his third century past the age of 38, and India attained the lead.

Already in arrears, with six wickets to take, England needed some magic. A first-ever hat-trick against India would surely qualify as magic? Who else to turn to, then, if not Broad? He began with Yuvraj's wicket in the sixth over with the new ball. The ball both seamed away and kicked at him. In his next over, he drew one loose shot from MS Dhoni. Harbhajan Singh hit the leather off the next ball, but was given lbw, which reiterated what a stupid deal his board had brokered in the ICC meeting. Of course Harbhajan wasn't allowed a review.

On the hat-trick, Broad bowled the perfect delivery for Praveen Kumar, who doesn't like getting behind the line of the ball. Through the bat-pad gap it rattled the off and middle stumps, kicking off Broad's much-deserved gun-slinging celebrations straight from a Western. Dravid, helpless at the other end, now looked for quick runs and upper-cut straight to third man.

Fifteen entertaining runs later, Ian Bell ended the Indian innings with a special short-leg catch. India took a quick wicket to pull some of the momentum back. Over all, India, who pride themselves on making comebacks, were up against a side matching them on that count. Promising days lay ahead.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sanoop on July 31, 2011, 13:05 GMT


  • Michael on July 31, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    England are just about managing to compete this test against an India side without Sehwag, Gambhir and Zaheer. Three of the best players in the world. When India has our full team back, we will beat you

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2011, 9:38 GMT

    the number 1 team please stand up

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    I want the England team to do special batting performance to put enormous pressure over India. I want the home team to add at least 400 runs to it's yesterday's overnight total of 24-1 as it has got great depth in it's batting to utilize fully and nicely. All the best to u England.

  • siva on July 31, 2011, 9:30 GMT

    Dhoni, bhaji what are they doing in test team. They are wasting the team 11 spot, there are lot of talented youngster to expecting and waiting for a chance.Through him out and bring back Pujara give a chance to mishra instead of baji and captaincy will give to sewhag.

  • Spencer on July 31, 2011, 9:28 GMT

    @Shrikar_11 your comments about Broad are ridiculous. A hatrick is as rare as a triple century. Why can't you actually just congratulate him? Using your skewed and spoilt-sport type of attitude should we also say that Dravids 100 was no big deal because Laxman, Trott or Cook could have played that type of innings? Absolutely not! Dravid and Broad were both magnificent. Let me remind you that Broad has now had 5 dolly catches dropped and one plumb LBW not given, so he should have 16 wickets. He has been incredible!!

  • ARVIND on July 31, 2011, 9:21 GMT

    Rahul has set an example for the batsmen in either side, that how to score on such pitches. especially Dhoni should take a lesson from the master.

    Still india is in good position to win the match. 2 early wickets especially KP's wicket and Trott already out due to injury.

    And if Bhajji cant perform in 2nd inn, india should go with Mishra.

  • Amit on July 31, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    what the dravid has done for india in the same way broad has done for england. england has the edge but if india do something special an thing is possible. In all it's a fighting test match.

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2011, 9:07 GMT

    Omario, talking about the Indian fan club? what about the England fan club of Nasser Hussain, Artheton, Tony, Boycott etc? they are no less biased in the commentary and assessments than what you blame Harsha and co to be. the series will go from england on top to tantalising to India on top. there is no way england are going to win the 3rd and 4th test with sehwag and zaheer back. india just threw it away in the 3rd sessions of both days. cant see it happening again as the no 1 side gets into their groove in the series. enlgand needed an underccoked side and an injured zaheer to win the first one... they are by no stretch of imagination the best test side there is.. however, given the scorecard, the match is tightly poised. we ll see what happens

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    note my words, india will loose this match too.

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