England storm to victory in tour opener
England's bowlers, Simon Jones in particular, cranked up the pace and spectacularly turned an impending draw into a 238-run victory by routing CCI President's XI in only 26.2 overs on the final day at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai. Their effort came after Marcus Trescothick and Ian Blackwell notched up fifties to boost England's second-innings score to 265.
After playing most of the game with a practice-match attitude, England were confident that 36 overs were enough to wrap up a win and bowled with definite intent. Jones, who in the first innings bowled with a Mark Ealham-esque run up and pace, shared the new ball with Matthew Hoggard, bowled at a much faster clip and extracted appreciable bounce. He struck in his first over, trapping Robin Uthappa on the crease and snared Vinit Indulkar with one that rose, to finish with 2 for 9 from five overs.
Andrew Flintoff induced an edge off Sahil Kukreja's half-hearted prod and at one stage bowled with four slips and two gullies. Hiken Shah took three boundaries off Liam Plunkett before he played down the wrong line and lost his off stump.
The President's XI folded without a fight, losing their last five wickets for eight runs. They were no match for Stephen Harmison's steep bounce. Both Wilkin Mota and Kshemal Waingankar edged deliveries that got big on them from just short off a length to slip to 71 for 8. Monty Panesar and Ian Blackwell chipped in with two wickets apiece as England completed a very satisfactory victory after getting all the batting practice they were looking for.
The early-morning atmosphere was relaxed and the intensity was almost zero as the batsmen approached the game with little more purpose than a net session. Having missed the first innings due to illness, Marcus Trescothick made his recovery count. He had signed off in style on the second day, carting Aniket Redkar for four consecutive fours off the final over, and he carried on in the same vein on the third day, looking completely at ease against the fast bowlers. He pulled Abid Nabi for consecutive fours to get going and followed up with crisp back-foot punches off Waingankar.
On 44, he had a stroke of luck when Vinayak Samant dropped an edge off Waingankar but Trescothick didn't let it faze him. He had a couple of uncertain moments against Hitshu Bachani - surviving a bat-pad appeal and missing a couple of sweeps - but replied with authority by lofting him over long-on for six and following up with a sweep for the same result.
Blackwell followed up his four-wicket haul on the second day with a half-century and if he didn't have a foot in the Test eleven before, he certainly has one now. Blackwell treated Swapnil Hazare with disdain, slapping him to the point and midwicket fence and not bothering with anything wide. Hazare had a lot of aggression in his body language but was woefully short of it in his bowling and was soon taken off. Blackwell swept the spinners powerfully to and over the midwicket boundary and showed that he could hit straight as well with three hoicks that cleared the ropes comfortably. But he tried one too many and holed out to long-on off Hitshu Bachani on 59.
Apart from Trescothick, Blackwell and Geraint Jones, who scored 30, none of the others got going. Kevin Pietersen, Michael Vaughan and Flintoff were all out to soft dismissals. Jones was stumped trying to charge down the track to Redkar in the first over after lunch and Trescothick holed out soon after. Blackwell and Plunkett, who made 26, posted 65 runs for the ninth wicket and pushed the score to 265.
CCI President's XI
Robin Uthappa lbw Simon Jones 4 (6 for 1)
Caught on the crease by one that swung in
Vinit Indulkar c Andrew Flintoff b Simon Jones 0 (6 for 2) Easy catch to second slip
Sahil Kukreja c Geraint Jones b Andrew Flintoff 12 (35 for3)
Tentative push off the front foot
Hiken Shah b Liam Plunkett 21 (38 for 4) Lost off stump playing the wrong line
Hrishikesh Shende c Marcus Trescothick b Monty Panesar 8 (59 for
Nicked sharply to first slip
Wilkin Mota c Geraint Jones b Stephen Harmison 17 (67 for 6)
Edged a rising delivery
Vinayak Samanth c Shaun Udal b Monty Panesar 6 (71 for 7)
Top-edged a slog sweep
Kshemal Waingankar c Geraint Jones b Stephen Harmison 0 (71 for
Nicked another rising delivery
Abid Nabi c Marcus Trescothick b Ian Blackwell 0 (75 for 9)
Wild slash taken at slip
Swapnil Hazare c Shaun Udal b Ian Blackwell 0 (75)
Driven in the air to cover
Kevin Pietersen run out Munish Ansari 10 (36 for 2)
Pushed past mid-on, sent back going for third run
Michael Vaughan c Vinit Indulkar b Kshemal Waingankar 13 (67 for
Skied a pull to midwicket
Andrew Flintoff c Samant b Munish Ansari 5 (79 for 4)
Regulation catch to the wicketkeeper
Geraint Jones st Vinayak Samant b Aniket Redkar 30 (147 for 5)
Stepped down and missed
Marcus Trescothick c Hitshu Bachani b Aniket Redkar 88 (162 for 6)
Holed out to mid-off
Ian Bell c Robin Uthappa b Nilesh Kulkarni 15 (194 for 7)
Edged to first slip
Shaun Udal lbw Aniket Redkar 0 (199 for 8)
Missed a sweep
Ian Blackwell c Wilkin Mota b Hitshu Bachani 59 (264 for 9)
Holed out attempting his fifth six
Liam Plunkett c Wilkin Mota b Hitshu Bachani 26 (265)
Tried to imitate Blackwell and succeeded
George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo