England back in the swing of things on day of drama
Broad and Anderson show their mastery with Dukes ball
Sunday 31 July 2011
Duke Ellington was the man who taught us that it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. That was 80 years ago, long enough for it to have become a cliché, but familiarity does not devalue the notion. On Friday here India's fast medium bowlers had swing in spades and for England to be able to make a game of it their attack needed to deploy it no less effectively. So they did, eventually, having lost it, rediscovered it and mislaid it again, before producing a memorable example of the finest swing bowling that saw India losing their last five wickets for 15 runs.
Stuart Broad's proved to be the master of it yesterday but he was ably supported by James Anderson and Tim Bresnan. The truth is that the injured Chris Tremlett, who had bowled splendidly at Lord's, was not needed on this voyage.
Broad's removal of Mahendra Singh Doni, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar in successive balls with the score on 273 was like the fat lady singing. It was all over, bar a 15-run flurry from the last pair. The hat-trick was a well-earned reward for 24.1 overs of fast bowling that confirmed Broad's recovery from the injury and bad form that had created doubt about his ability – among followers of English cricket, if not the team's selectors. Their faith in him was rewarded six times over yesterday.
And his victims were not all middle order men or tailenders. After lunch, Sachin Tendulkar was looking comfortable against Broad, who was moving the ball from just back of a length. Tendulkar raises his bat to let the ball pass, and as it does so he continues the movement and completes an attractive circular motion. It gives the impression of calm invulnerability.
After scoring 34 and 12 at Lord's, more was expected of him here, but the Little Master proved that he is fallible, playing out of character by slashing at a shorter delivery from Broad that clipped the edge of the bat. The ball almost floated into the hands of Andrew Strauss, a chance that he could not miss. India were 119 for 3 and England's bowlers appeared to have restored equilibrium between two good sides.
Play had begun under high, thin clouds, with blue patches and no wind. It had felt colder than on Friday and Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman did not make many scoring shots. There were, though, two fours in Anderson's first over; two more off Broad's, and one more in Anderson's next. The batsmen rarely looked tested and that was because the ball was not swinging as it had done the day before. Swing bowling remains a mystery but it is understood to be influenced by the air temperature. Evidence for this was now at hand. The sun was breaking through the clouds, warming the air and improving the mood of England's bowlers.
In Bresnan's third over, Laxman played and missed a ball that did swing. Bresnan's next ball followed the same line, jagging away to towards the slips. Laxman followed it and was caught by Matt Prior in front of first slip. Suresh Raina would be hard put to explain how he survived his first over from Broad, now bowling with real venom, but it was Anderson who dismissed him, cutting straight to Eoin Morgan at point. Anderson too had rediscovered his mojo and the full house began to roar.
Yuvraj Singh, dropped by Kevin Pietersen when he was four, put on 128 with Dravid. Apart from occasional glimpses, swing was mislaid in the afternoon. Broad rediscovered it in a brilliant spell that owed as much to conviction as to swing bowling.
The Indian batsmen had begun to play like men who believed their own publicity until Yuvraj edged a rising ball to Prior and Dhoni slashed to Anderson at second slip. After that, Broad mesmerised India's tailenders like a fakir performing the rope trick. There might have been an element of luck in his hat-trick (Harbhajan was given lbw despite hitting the ball), but India had lost four wickets for nought in six balls.
The crowd was roaring again when Bresnan had Dravid caught in the deep. The last wicket fell when Ishant Sharma was well caught by Ian Bell – off Broad, of course. Broad's final figures were almost beyond praise or belief. He had taken 6 for 46 and the last five wickets had cost not a single run.
This was the reassertion of the growing reputation of England's pace attack. They have swing all right, and that means a great deal to their hopes of becoming the top Test nation.
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