December 14, 2001

England thrives on team effort

Sachin Tendulkar, though, was confident and played inbrilliant fashion to get to yet another ton in Test cricket


Sachin Tendulkar, though, was confident and played in brilliant fashion to get to yet another ton in Test cricket. He, along with VVS Laxman, tried to put the Indian innings in order, but he fell victim to Matthew Hoggard just after his hundred. One only dreads to think of the plight of the home team if Tendulkar were to be dismissed early.
England have done extremely well to come back in the second test at Motera, and they will be hoping to repeat David Gower's feat of 1985. With a healthy lead of more than 100 runs and all wickets intact, the pressure undoubtedly is on the hosts. The Indians have put themselves in this situation with some very ordinary batting and some missed opportunities while fielding. At the same time, credit must be given to the visitors for fighting hard and getting into a winning position.

If they were guilty of not capitalising on the first day at Mohali, the English lower middle-order exceeded expectations, with Craig White leading the way. Marcus Trescothick and Mark Butcher gave the muchrequired start for the visitors, and with half the side dismissed for very little, it looked like the visitors were looking down the barrel. Trescothick played with pluck and was severe on anything loose. The English openers negotiated the new ball without any problems, and things were looking bleak for the hosts. Anil Kumble, the silent assassin, finally made the breakthrough and then started chipping away at the top order in regular intervals.

Craig White walked into bat when Kumble was on top, and the general consensus was that the hosts would restrict England to around 250. White had been considered an all-rounder all along, and his best performance with the bat could not have come at a better time. He found a willing partner in James Foster, and the pair set about reviving the England innings. Foster played the second fiddle role to perfection, and he displayed remarkable temperament. White's concentration, though, was the outstanding feature of his knock. He was not ruffled, even though he was beaten on a few occasions, and the Indian catching also left much to be desired. Deep Dasgupta once again showed that he is not yet a fullfledged wicket-keeper, and he has to do something very quickly in his main role. Eventually, White reached his well-deserved maiden century, and his partnership with Foster was crucial for the visitors.

Nasser Hussain came out onto the field with a simple ploy for his bowlers - that of bowling relentlessly on one side of the wicket. It was the same gameplan at Mohali too, but poor catching then had allowed India to get past the 400 mark. At Motera, though, the scenario was very different. The visitors had 400 on the board and were bent on making it difficult for the much-fancied Indian line-up. Once again, the Indians looked too hesitant in their approach, and the nagging line of the English bowlers led to their downfall.

Sachin Tendulkar, though, was confident and played in brilliant fashion to get to yet another ton in Test cricket. He, along with VVS Laxman, tried to put the Indian innings in order, but he fell victim to Matthew Hoggard just after his hundred. One only dreads to think of the plight of the home team if Tendulkar were to be dismissed early. Laxman, playing to retain his place in the team, dug himself in to notch up a half-century, but the lack of support from the tail forced him to throw his wicket away in the quest for runs.

Ashley Giles emerged as the most successful bowler for England, which would have pleased him no end, as he is playing Test cricket after almost one year. He was steady and bowled to his field, which provided him the five-wicket haul. No one should forget the hard work done by Hoggard, whose discipline kept the pressure on the Indian batsmen.

A very good team effort has given the visitors the upper hand and, if they bat sensibly enough, they may well square the series, especially as the pitch will not get any better on the final day. That, coupled with the inconsistent Indian middle order, may make Hussain's mission worthwhile.