January 29, 2001

Ajay Ratra and Justin Bishop share honours on day three

England Under-19s were 58/0 in 23 overs at close of play on the penultimate day of the third and final Test match against the Indian Under-19s at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, Hyderabad, on Monday. Ajay Ratra with a charmed innings of 141 and Justin Bishop with 5/64 took the honours of the third day's play.

India was all out for 492 in 116.3 overs, soon after the tea interval. Captain Ajay Ratra was the last batsman to be dismissed after making 141 runs off 189 balls. Ian Bell caught Ratra off the bowling of the luckless Justin Bishop at square leg. Ratra was dropped four times in his innings and made the English colts pay heavily for their mistakes.

A total of seven catches were dropped by the English fielders, denying themselves of a chance to beat India. Pratt thrice, Bell twice, Wallace and Sadler once apiece were the culprits. Bishop who suffered most of the dropped catches, bowled his heart out to finish with the best figures of the series for an English bowler, 20.3-4-64-5 - the first time an English bowler has captured five wickets in the three 'Test' match series.

It is quite startling that Bishop was bowled for just five overs yesterday, when Gambhir and Mane were going great guns. Robert Ferley bowled 33 overs in the innings, all from the far end. More often than not, the field placement was left to be desired. Neither the captain nor the bowlers got it right, as the Indian batsmen was never put under pressure.

Resuming in a commanding position on 220/3, India colts threw away their advantage, losing four wickets for 118 runs in the pre-lunch session. Vinayak Mane had added 12 more to his overnight score of 114, when Gary Pratt dropped a simple chance off the bowling of Bishop.

Alind Naidu played a flashy stroke to a ball angled away from him by Bishop, giving an easy catch to Mark Wallace behind the stumps. Naidu made 19 before being the fourth man to be dismissed at 248. Gary Pratt, who ran him out with a brilliant piece of fielding, picking up and throwing down the stumps in one action eventually dismissed Mane. He made 135 runs off just 187 balls and struck two sixes and thirteen boundaries.

Though no pressure was exerted on them, the Indians found ways to put themselves in a knot. Maninder Singh, who plays left-handed, gave an easy catch to Nicky Peng off Robert Ferley after making just six runs. Thirteen runs later, Amit Mishra was caught behind for a duck off Bishop and India were 335/7.

The Indian batsmen really enjoyed their extended lives at the wicket. Vidyut, after being dropped on zero by Pratt off the bowling of Bishop, thrashed McGarry through the covers for a magnificent four. Kyle Hogg was brought in from the far end, and was summarily dismissed out of the attack with a glorious six over long off and a straight four off consecutive balls. Tremlett was not spared either, smashing an on-drive and an extra-cover drive for fours.

Vidyut fell after playing a wonderful little cameo of 38 off 39 balls; striking four boundaries and a huge six. McGarry claimed Vidyut's wicket, caught by Wallace behind the stumps. India were 406/8 at that stage.

Dharmichand also played an entertaining innings of 33 off 41 balls, before being bowled by Bishop. Ratra who really took all the chances given to him, played some lovely drives on both sides of the wicket. He made the bulk of the 157 runs scored for the last three wickets, smashing 16 fours.

Having allowed the India colts to get to a lead of 176 runs, English opening batsman gave their team a steady start. Nicky Peng and John Sadler are unbeaten on 37 and 17 respectively. The day had to be extended by 25 minutes to complete the mandatory 90 overs for the day.