India shine amidst the gloom

India took early control of the second Test at Trent Bridge, having England on the ropes early at 169/7 on a rain shortened day one.

Unlike the first Test where England started with a bang and had the wood over India for the remainder of the match, here England got off to a shaky start, bordering on collapse. To say that the English bowlers threw their wickets away wouldn’t be totally incorrect, they lacked fight and application including any real understanding of the conditions. However, it was a first rate show of consistent bowling from the Indian seamers, which bowled accurately and in the right places and at a good length all day to put themselves in the driving seat for the Test and in fact the series.

The weather, as predicted left much to be desired as did the Trent Bridge draining system which paled in comparison to the much superior ones employed at Lord’s. When the captains finally took to the field, Rahul Dravid won the toss and sent England in to bat, a decision that would pay off greatly as the day wore on.

Strauss and Cook made their way to the crease at 3pm, much to the delight of the frustrated crowd with play reduced to 55 over for the day. India struck immediately when Zaheer Khan had Strauss caught at slips to a beautiful delivery. Strauss, unable to replicate his first Test form of 96 was out for a mere four runs with England at 4/1.

A similar style delivery from Khan had the next man in, captain Michael Vaughan, out for nine shortly afterwards as Tendulkar caught the outside edge at first slip yet again to bring up Zaheer’s 150th Test match wicket, in fine fashion.

RP had KP out six overs later, when Singh had Pietersen trapped LBW. The danger man, the batsman who had cruelly taken the match out of India’s hands at Lord’s, out for 13 and England reeling at 47/3.

Collingwood came into the crease with a zero and a four to his name from the first Test and was understandably low on confidence right from the start. Inexplicably India took the foot off the gas, which allowed Collingwood some breathing room as he and Cook attempted to rebuild England’s score and their chances for the match.

Cook had played a fighting innings, the only English batsman to show any real understanding of the conditions and the situation as he guided England to tea at 94/3. Still in trouble but with India’s bowling seemingly allowing them off the hook, for now.

However after tea, with the bowlers rejuvenated, India put the pressure right back on England and it wasn’t long before the most productive partnership of the day was broken for 54 runs when Sreesanth finally got in on the act to remove Paul Collingwood for 28.

Sreesanth, who had been slightly erratic in his behaviour all day, managed to bowl quite well to have Collingwood inside-edging the ball on to his stumps to leave England on 101/4 and in serious trouble which was about to get much worse when part timer Sourav Ganguly ended Cook’s fighting innings on 43.

The former Indian captain, who had been bowling well all day and in fact all series, had Cook out LBW with the ball coming back onto his pads. The decision was dubious, but it mattered little to India who were celebrating with England 109/5 and losing the plot quickly.

Anil Kumble was brought into the attack and also cashed in on a successful day for the Indian bowlers, removing wicketkeeper-batsman, Matt Prior, with a nifty piece of bowling that had the ball spinning past the driving batsman straight to Dravid at first slip.

There was little relief for England when Zaheer eliminated the last recognised batsman Ian Bell, who had never really looked comfortable. A top delivery that swung back into Bell, leaving him dead plumb for 31.

Tremlett and Sidebottom saw out the day, which was firmly India’s. The bowling was consistent and probing lead by Khan who took three wickets for the day, asking all the right questions of the English batsman who failed to rise to the challenge.

India head into the second day needing only to clean up the tail before they can start their reply with the series still very much in the balance.

England 169/7
Alastair Cook 43, Ian Bell 31
Zaheer Khan 3-50

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