The second `Test' between India and England Under-19s ended in a tame draw on the fourth and final day at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai, on Tuesday. At close of play England were 64/2 off 34 overs, in their second innings. John Sadler and Gary Pratt were unbeaten on 31 and 19 respectively.
The pitch had not changed, even after four days' cricket. It looked good enough to last for a few more weeks. As the Indian coach Roger Binny put it: "I can't even see the bowler's boot marks".
The weather throughout the four days was kind enough. England were the only team with a chance of winning but a combination of complacency and incompetent fielding saw to it that they drew the game from a winning position.
Resuming at 241/0 in their second innings, India Colts got down to the business of scoring quick runs. Vinayak Mane was in punishing mood, playing the horizontal bat shot with considerable style and substance. Early in the day, he played a rousing pull shot off Ian Pattison over the square leg fence for a huge six. Gautam Gambhir too kept up with the pace, driving and pulling with ease.
The English bowlers, who bowled too short and wide of the stumps, fed the stylish batsmen. More often than not the ball was played through the gaps or over the field, leaving the fielders to watch the ball race to the fence. Monty Panesar, the only specialist spinner in the English side, proved to be ineffective. Mane danced down the track and lofted him straight over the sight screen for a huge six.
Mane was the first to get to his double century, square driving Gordon Muchall for a couple. Two balls later, he went for his favourite pull off a short-of-a-length ball from Muchall and skied an easy catch to Ian Bell running in from mid-wicket. Mane's 201 came off 239 balls and included 23 powerfully struck fours and four sixes. The first wicket partnership put on 391 runs in just 312 minutes and off only 75.4 overs.
YG Rao, who replaced Mane, soon perished, hooking at a shorter one from Muchall and John Sadler took a good catch diving forward. Alind Naidu, facing the prospect of a pair, looked shaky to start with, surviving a close call for lbw before opening his account with a streaky single, the ball going off the edge past Panesar in the slips off Sadler.
Gambhir got to his double hundred in the last over before lunch. He lived dangerously, flashing and chasing at balls outside the off stump. Soon after the interval, Gambhir ran himself out by going for a third run off a mis-field. He could not make it to the crease, as Chris Tremlett ran him out with a good throw from the cover fence. Gambhir made 212 runs off 241 balls, striking two sixes and 25 boundaries.
Naidu who had a shaky start, looked good in parts but often flashed outside the off stump to be beaten a few times. The introduction of Panesar made a difference. Naidu going for a big shot was well caught by Muchall for 35 runs made in 44 balls. Naidu struck five sweetly timed fours in his innings. Vidyut who came in, lofted Panesar clean and high into the stands for a huge six, and India colts declared their innings closed.
With a draw on the cards, English colts started off slowly while the bowling was not penetrative enough. Nicky Peng flashed at one outside the off, got the edge and Ajay Ratra took a good catch. Peng who had scored a hundred in the first innings, failed to get off the mark in the second.
After tea, there was not much action as the players went through the formalities. Vidyut gave the ball a lot of air and spun it ever so slowly on the fourth-day track. He had the English batsmen tied up with a good line and length. Captain Ian Bell succumbed to an arm ball from Vidyut and was bowled, shouldering arms. Bell made just seven runs off 70 balls.
The Management of the two teams have to do some serious soul-searching about the commitment they take to the field. Chris Tremlett, Nicky Peng and Andrew McGarry have been revelations as far as the English colts are concerned. India juniors could take heart from their second innings performance, mainly the fightback of Mane and Gambhir. The fielding and catching by both sides have been appalling enough to change the course of the match on so many occasions.
England U19 vs India U19
England Under-19s in India Youth Test Series
England Under-19s in India Youth ODI Series
England Under-19s tour of India
MA Chidambaram Stadium