Cricket: England struggle to shake off the rust

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Delhi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .286 and 140-2 dec

England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .194 and 63-3

Match drawn

IT IS never wise to get too carried away after the first game of a tour, but as far as England are concerned, this would be pretty difficult in any case. Not only do they look decidedly ropy batting against spin, they do not look too adept at bowling it either.

In other parts of the world this would not be anything to get too lathered up over, but not only does India happen to be a spinner's spiritual home, but it was fondly imagined that this time England had the beating of them in their own back yard at their own game.

Perhaps they might still do so. John Emburey, whose eye infection ruled him out of the drawn match here against Delhi, is reputed to have discovered wile and guile in his advancing years, and will shortly be given the opportunity to disprove the adage about old dogs and new tricks.

Moreover, Philip Tufnell is the genuine article, and in this day and age, his record of influencing the result in three of his 10 Test matches is little short of remarkable. However, the difference in left-arm spin bowling between Maninder Singh and Tufnell in this match was only marginally less frightening than attempting to cross Old Delhi High Street during the rush hour.

Quite apart from his bewitching flight, Maninder spun the ball prodigious distances at times, as indeed did the part-time off spinner Kirti Azad. Tufnell, on the other hand, was flatter than an LP cover, and not once in 96 deliveries yesterday did he persuade the ball to change direction.

India's shift of emphasis from spin to seam, largely brought about by the remorseless advance of one-day cricket in this country, led to some pre-tour speculation that they might abandon their traditional policy of greeting their visitors with dry, dusty turners. Presumably, they are now arming their Test match groundsmen with nail scissors and scrubbing brushes.

Despite watching his side struggle over the last three days, Graham Gooch was still radiating non-pessimism yesterday and put most of the problems down to non-competitive rust. 'The local guys are in the middle of a season, and ours are first time out,' Gooch said. 'Tufnell has not bowled in a match for four months, and we shouldn't read too much into it.'

Gooch was also philosophical about being docked of one of his first-class centuries by the International Cricket Conference, thus leaving him two short of 100 hundreds. He has lost the one he made for England's 'rebel' XI on the 1981-82 tour to South Africa, and the fact that it was 'bloody hard work against good opposition' does not make it any less galling.

'Let's put it this way, it was more difficult to score than the ones I've made against Cambridge University,' he said. 'I'll have to make sure I play against Cambridge again.'

At the moment, however, Gooch does not look any more likely to score a hundred at Fenner's than he did here in Faridabad. The ball that dismissed him after England were set an impossible 233 in 30 overs kept unkindly low, but Gooch did not look any more in touch in his second innings than he had in his first.

Alec Stewart was again out cheaply - the body language he radiated after being adjudged caught behind was only just acceptable - and Michael Atherton was third out just before stumps when he touched another fine delivery from Maninder to the wicketkeeper.

It was remarkable that Maninder was into his 27th over in England's first innings before he took a wicket, by which time his slow- bowling partner, Kirti, had picked up four of the six he was to finish with. Six of the 30 runs Kirti conceded came via one blow, from Graeme Hick, as England's last five first-innings wickets went down in 70 minutes yesterday morning for the addition of 40 more runs.

England never really got into this match, although they must have felt at home yesterday on such a cold day that the spectators were wrapped in blankets and outside the stadium people were adding to Faridabad's choking pollution by lighting bonfires to huddle round. Perhaps it was those dawn coach trips and the early starts. It is a little disorientating to say the least when tea is taken at 2pm.

In such conditions, not unusual in northern India at this time of year, you would have thought it a good idea to move your feet to keep them warm. If so, such an idea did not occur to England's batsmen (as it did to Ajay Sharma and Bantoo Singh when they were putting on 117 in 175 balls largely against Tufnell and Hick), who thus created their own problems against India's spinners.

The only man to leave his crease against them was Mike Gatting, who, believe it or not, once won trophies for ballroom dancing. Super fit they might be, but perhaps England should have moved their training camp from Lilleshall to the local palais.

(Third day: England won toss)

DELHI - First Innings 286 (H Sharma 88).

ENGLAND - First Innings

(Overnight: 154 for 5)

G A Hick c Bhaskar b Maninder Singh . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

N H Fairbrother c Bhaskar b Kirti Azad . . . . . . . . . . . . 0

D A Reeve c Bhaskar b Maninder Singh . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

C C Lewis c Sharma b Kirti Azad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

P C R Tufnell not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

D E Malcolm c Bhaskar b Kirti Azad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Extras (b4 lb7 nb9). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Total. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194

Fall: 6-154 7-186 8-191 9-191.

Bowling: Razdan 13-4-23-1; Wassan 14-2-37-1; Ghayas 6-0-28-0; Maninder Singh 29-5-65-2; Kirti Azad 17-6-30-6.

DELHI - Second Innings

M Nayyar c Hick b Jarvis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

H Sharma c Hick b Jarvis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

Bantoo Singh not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50

A K Sharma not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61

Extras (b4 lb4 nb5) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Total (for 2 dec). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140

Fall: 1-16 2-23.

Bowling: Malcolm 3-1-10-0; Jarvis 9-4-17-2; Tufnell 16-3-52-0; Hick 9-2-32-0; Lewis 5-2-21-0.

ENGLAND - Second Innings

* G A Gooch b Ghayas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

M A Atherton c Chaturvedi b Maninder Singh . . . . . . . . . 18

] A J Stewart c Chaturvedi b Ghayas . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

M W Gatting not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

G A Hick not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

Extras (lb1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Total (for 3). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

Fall: 1-40 2-46 3-50.

Bowling: Wassan 3-0-25-0; Razdan 2-0-7-0; Maninder Singh 9-2-13-1; Ghayas 8-1-17-2.

Umpires: V K Ramaswamy and R Rathore.

MATCH DRAWN

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