January 30, 2001

Final `Test' drawn, Indian lads clinch series

The England Under-19 team saved the final `Test' match against India Under-19 from the jaws of defeat. A brilliant unbeaten 53-run partnership for the ninth wicket off 17 overs between Robert Ferley and Justin Bishop helped the England colts frustrate the Indians at the Lal Bahadur stadium in Hyderabad on Tuesday. England were 279/8 at final draw of stumps, with Ferley and Bishop unbeaten on 37 and 21 respectively. The Indian lads thus clinched the series by virtue of their victory in the first `Test' at Mumbai. The second `Test' at Chennai was also drawn.

Resuming their second innings at 58/0, after being 176 runs in arrears on the first, England colts were, for most part of the day, looking at defeat. The pitch remained true even on the fourth day, offering little assistance to the bowlers. It was a hot day and the English boys put up a poor show for the best part of the day.

England colts started off steadily with John Sadler and Nicky Peng showing some good form. Peng got to his half century in style, playing a beautiful cover drive off Nitin Aggarwal.

The score had slowly moved to 104, when Peng stepped out and drove Amit Mishra straight into the hands of the cover-point fielder, Alind Naidu. Peng made 72 attractive runs that included 11 boundaries. Four runs later, Sadler danced down the track to Vidyut and was beaten comprehensively by the flight. Ajay Ratra wasted no time, to stump Sadler out for 27.

Gary Pratt came in riding on his first innings century. He never looked comfortable against the spin bowlers. On 11, he decided to chance his arm against the leg-spin of Mishra. Pratt's attempt to clear the field was in vain as he ended up giving Maninder Singh an easy catch at mid-off.

England Under-19 resumed after lunch on 138/3, and quickly found themselves with their feet stuck against some purposeful spin bowling. Ishan Ganda struck twice to reduce England to 174/5. First to be dismissed was Muchall. Trying to play at a ball fired down the legside, he only managed to edge the ball to Ajay Ratra. Muchall faced 70 balls in making three runs. He had earlier got off the mark with a streaky shot, between the legs of the forward short leg fielder, Alind Naidu.

The tall figure of Chris Tremlett walked out to take on the spinners. But he was all at sea against the slow turn the Indian bowlers were able to generate out of this fourth day pitch. His stay at the crease was terminated when Naidu gleefully took the catch, close to the wicket off the bowling of Ganda. Tremlett made just one run.

Ian Bell was the only man who looked like keeping the Indian spinners at bay. He played some lovely drives off them, on either side of the wicket. Bell's vigil came to an end after making 61 runs off 163 balls. He struck seven boundaries in his fighting inning, before being caught by Ratra off the bowling of Vidyut. The England juniors went in for the tea break at 207/6 in 102 overs.

Though the BCCI playing conditions stipulate that the new ball has to be taken after 100 overs are bowled, the umpires seemed to have got their numbers all mixed up. They let India bowl the 103rd over also with the old ball.

Nitin Aggarwal took the second new ball and India juniors were rewarded immediately to reduce England colts to 226/8. England had a thin lead of 50 runs and just two wickets in hand and the Indian colts had a good chance of winning the match.

Wallace was the first to be dismissed in the session, trapped in front by Aggarwal for 22 runs at 220. Kyle Hogg made just two runs and was caught behind by Ratra off the bowling of Aggarwal, leaving England reeling.

Aggarwal bowled a fine spell of 5-2-16-2. But that was that for Aggarwal, for Ratra relied on his spin bowlers for the rest of the session to get the remaining two wickets and go for a run chase. He even gave Gautam Gambhir and YG Rao a bowl, but the English tail wagged to safety.

Bishop and Ferley however batted confidently against the spin bowling. Vinayak Mane dropped Ferley off the bowling of Mishra in the 115th over, the last of many dropped catches in the match. Play was called off, with five minutes remaining. Ferley's innings was decorated with six boundaries and Bishop's with three.

Comments