Zaheer Five-For stuns EnglandNeil Pickup |
Zaheer Khan’s five wicket haul inspired India to the brink of a commanding victory on day four of the Second Test at Trent Bridge.
With the assistance of Anil Kumble, Zaheer inspired an English collapse to rekindle memories of years gone by and firmly extinguish those of the hosts’ supremacy at Lord’s the week before.
At the tea break, however, the picture had been an entirely different one for both sides. Michael Vaughan had looked back to his imperious best as he stroked his way to a sublime 17th Test century – taking him level with Denis Compton – and with able support from Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood, England reached 221 for three at the interval. Twelve overs later, they greeted the second new ball with a thirteen-run over off Zaheer to mark the complete erasure of their first-innings deficit.
Two overs later, however, Vaughan and Ian Bell had been sent back – courtesy of a leg side nothing ball deflected onto the stumps via edge and thighguard, and a delivery that angled in from around the wicket before seeming away and trapping Bell as palpably LBW as Kevin Pietersen had been in the afternoon. Pietersen was dismissed shouldering arms to RP Singh, one ball after escaping a thin nick through the MS Dhoni and one over after a Sreesanth beamer forced him into evasive action.
With Bell and Vaughan gone, England’s hopes for survival rested with Collingwood and Matt Prior, the last recognised batsman. Their hopes lasted approximately eight overs, surviving a short barrage of Sreesanth verbals – although the Indian seamer’s match fee didn’t see out the day – before Singh swung the ball through Prior’s defences and into middle stump.
With the departure of the England wicketkeeper there followed the England hopes. Collingwood became Zaheer’s fifth victim and Tremlett followed an over later. The Hampshire seamer was the first of three tailenders to fall to Kumble, massaging the leg-spinner’s figures after Vaughan had taken him for over five per over earlier in the day.
A brisk, unbeaten 25 from Ryan Sidebottom, spaced around the dismissals of Monty Panesar and James Anderson, dragged his batting average to 26.5, but as England subsided for a meagre 355, India were set 73 to win.
Three overs later, Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer had reduced their target by ten runs, and England were left needing an even bigger stroke of fortune than India received a week ago in order to take anything from the game. However, the last time a game was drawn with a result so likely and a cloudless forecas for the final day, George Davis was involved.
Alastair Cook 43, Ian Bell 31
Zaheer Khan 4/59, Anil Kumble 3/32
Sachin Tendulkar 91, Sourav Ganguly 79
Monty Panesar 4/101, Chris Tremlett 3/80
Michael Vaughan 124, Paul Collingwood 63
Zaheer Khan 5/75, Anil Kumble 3/104
Dinesh Karthik 6*, Wasmi Jaffer 3*
India need 63 more runs to win