England 238 President's XI 93-1: Hobbling tourists trip in the face of adversity
Friday 24 February 2006
All touring sides to India experience hardship and deprivation. Not on the grand scale, but just tantalisingly enough to make a player wish the heretical thought that he might, just this once, have been short of the form and the ability to make the party.
England could have probably done without facing adversity quite so early in the piece, before a ball has been bowled in anger, but another way of looking at it is that it will be a test of their much vaunted unity. They managed to put out a team yesterday for the second and final warm-up match before the first Test, but it was a pretty near thing.
Four men of the 16 in the party were unavailable because of illness or injury, including the captain, Michael Vaughan, and a fifth, Kevin Pietersen, ricked his back while batting which forced him to retire hurt. It did not prevent him striking 22 in a single over, every clattering blow being accompanied by an involuntary grimace, but maybe that bespoke the spirit which is essential in the coming days.
Such matters must be taken into consideration when assessing the batting performance against the Indian Board President's XI. Having done so, it was still not up to scratch. Most of England's batsmen have spent some time at the crease and did so again yesterday against some slightly more accomplished bowling than they had encountered in Bombay the previous week.
But the truth was that as the temperatures touched three figures in Fahrenheit, England's players were obviously operating in Centigrade. They will be undercooked for the first Test, or tender from the after effects of various ailments, or both. The auguries were poor as soon as Vaughan failed his net session yesterday morning and sent his stalwart deputy, Marcus Trescothick out to toss.
Trescothick won that, belted a few balls and was then run out going for a third. This was followed by a sequence of indifferent shots. Ian Bell, who looked fluent, cut one which bounced, Andrew Strauss, who was also in touch, did likewise to a ball too close to him and Andrew Flintoff leant back and scooped one into the off side.
Pietersen blazed away as soon as his back went, hitting four fours and a six from an over before he called it a day. There were important, hard hewn runs for Geraint Jones, Ian Blackwell and Liam Plunkett who could not have expected to play this match. But there were not enough runs, though when the ball started to reverse swing for Mumat Patel in the afternoon it was not the most unpleasant of sights for England's bowlers.
The Board XI's openers, Wasim Jaffer and Gautam Gambhir, both played solidly enough until the last over of the day when Blackwell, having been swept for four, fired the next ball in, went through the shot and won the appeal for leg before wicket.
It was a smart piece of bowling, nudged Blackwell closer to a Test debut and one man at last was glad he was here.
England won toss. First day of three
ENGLAND - First Innings
* M E Trescothick run out 18
A J Strauss b Patel 23
I R Bell c Jaffer b Paul 17
K P Pietersen ret hurt 47
A Flintoff c Singh b Patel 1
ÝG O Jones b Patel 46
I D Blackwell c Rao b Powar 33
L E Plunkett c Jaffer b Paul 37
M J Hoggard b Patel 0
S J Harmison b Patel 4
M S Panesar not out 0
Extras (lb1 w2 nb9) 12
Total (62.2 overs) 238
Fall: 1-24 2-62 3-64 4-72 5-182 6-232 7-232 8-234 9-238.
Bowling: Patel 16.2-0-59-5; Singh 9-1-63-0; Paul 14-6-26-2; Powar 17-3-68-1; Raina 3-1-14-0; Rao 3-2-7-0.
PRESIDENT'S XI - First Innings
W Jaffer lbw b Blackwell 48
G Gambhir not out 33
Extras (b12) 12
Total (for 1 wkt, 24 overs) 93
To bat: *Y V Rao, S Badrinath, D S Jadhav, S S Paul, M M Patel, S K Raina, K K D Karthik, ÝR R Powar, V R Singh.
Bowling: Hoggard 6-1-29-0; Harmison 5-3-10-0; Flintoff 5-1-20-0; Plunkett 2-0-8-0; Panesar 4-1-8-0; Blackwell 2-0-6-1.
Umpires: A V Jayaprakash and A M Saheba.
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