England grind out draw

Click to follow
The Independent Online

England's opening match of the Indian tour ended in an entertaining draw as the tourists employed the second day of two for batting practice.

While the bowlers had gone through the necessary toil in acclimatising to the Mumbai heat yesterday, crease occupation was the order of today.

In fact, of the top seven, only Michael Vaughan failed on a Wankhede Stadium surface offering assistance for the spinners.

Nasser Hussain, Marcus Trescothick, Mark Ramprakash and most impressively Craig White all recorded half-centuries as England countered the conditions in the same vein they had on last year's successful trekking of the subcontinent.

Confronted with an attack comprising three bowlers with Test experience, a policy of using the feet to hit straight against the spinners served England well.

White and Hussain, in particular, took on the spin trio of Nilesh Kulkarni, Ramesh Powar and Sairaj Bahatule, and each like Trescothick before them reached 50 with a six.

Starting the final session on 232 for three, White produced some fearful hitting, taking full toll on Kulkarni, in milking the India international for 24 off five balls.

After Ramprakash had taken a single off the first ball, the Yorkshire all-rounder finished the over with six, four, six, two and six.

His belligerent assault ensured interest was maintained until the final few overs when Ramprakash brought up his own measured 50 and the duo closed to within three of Mumbai's 373 for five.

White struck five sixes and seven fours in his unbeaten 79, from just 72 balls.

England captain Hussain retired at tea on 70, including three sixes and seven fours, as did partner Graham Thorpe with 45 not out.

The pair shared an unbroken stand of 111 in 28 overs but both were dropped by the hapless Kulkarni in the deep, much to the consternation of the home supporters sprinkled around the 40,000-capacity ground.

Their cat calls turned to cheers however as Hussain, afforded much attention in the land of his birth, launched a Powar delivery onto the south stand roof to bring up his landmark.

Butcher (33) fell when he drove to wide extra-cover and Hussain called him for a second after Avishka Salvi's wayward throw found its way to fine leg.

Having run past the stumps, though, Butcher had to make up 25 yards instead of 22 and Wasim Jaffer's return beat his lunge for the line by the narrowest of margins.

Trescothick, who made hundreds in the first matches of both successful tours last winter - in Pakistan and Sri Lanka - perished for 60 in dominating a first-wicket stand of 89 with new partner Butcher as England replied to the President's XI's 373 for five.

Trescothick, more circumspect than his partner initially, upped his aggression on a pitch offering assistance to the hosts' bowlers - leg-spinner Bahutule, who made his Test debut against Australia this year, in particular.

The Somerset batsman's 67-ball innings, which included six fours and three sixes, two from consecutive Nilesh Kulkarni deliveries, ended with an increasingly familiar dismissal.

A top-edged sweep off Powar provided a steepling catch for yesterday's century maker Vinod Kambli at midwicket.

Yet Trescothick had executed his shots with a commanding air - when seamer Salvi bounced him, he hooked for six and then followed it with two square cuts to the fence.

Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India have threatened to pull out of a Test next summer in retaliation to their English counterparts' refusal to rearrange the one-day part of this winter's matches between the two countries.

The Indians wanted to add two extra fixtures to the current quota of five that begin in January.

They even requested a compromise of one but the England and Wales Cricket Board turned their proposal down.

Now the BCCI are threatening to only reciprocate the number of matches here during next summer's tour of England.

England play three Tests pre-Christmas followed by the handful of one-dayers, while four Tests and a triangular series also including Sri Lanka, with a minimum of six matches for each team is on the agenda for India's tour.

Comments