Stuart Broad reignites England's flagging hopes

England 221 & 24-1 v India 288
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Stuart Broad reignited England's flagging hopes in the second npower Test with a hat-trick in front of his home crowd against India.

Rahul Dravid (117) appeared to have put England in grave danger of conceding a debilitating first-innings lead at Trent Bridge, with the tourists on 267 for four in reply to 221, when Broad suddenly began to make the second new ball work for him.

The upshot was a total of 288 all out, and mid-match advantage therefore of only 67 - reduced by 24 for the loss of England opener Alastair Cook at stumps.

Broad (six for 46) began his remarkable spell of five wickets for no runs in 16 balls with the scalp of Yuvraj Singh (62), caught behind via some extra bounce to end a stand of 128 with Dravid.

But it was not until his next over that England's destroyer really got started.

First, he saw off India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni - edging a drive to be well caught by James Anderson at second slip.

Then Harbhajan Singh was given out lbw by Marais Erasmus, even though he seemed to get bat on ball, and Praveen Kumar was the third to go in successive balls - bowled, as Broad became the 12th Englishman to take a Test hat-trick.

When Dravid finally fell soon afterwards, caught at deep third-man off Tim Bresnan, the match had been turned on its head - and Broad completed career-best figures with Ishant Sharma last out, gloving a catch to short-leg.

Broad's Botham-esque feat, to add to his counter-attacking 64 from number nine yesterday, put Dravid's hugely admirable six-hour tour de force in the shade.

'The Wall' had continued to thwart England, even when their improved bowling performance after lunch was rewarded with the wickets of Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina.

Dravid, who owes that nickname to his renowned immovability in an international career dating back to 1996, shared a second-wicket stand of 93 with VVS Laxman (54).

Home prospects of staying in contention were not helped by injuries to Graeme Swann and then, more worryingly, Jonathan Trott.

The off-spinner was last night cleared of serious damage to his left hand by X-rays, having been hit while batting, but was off the field again this morning and did not bowl until after lunch.

The heavy cloud cover which prevailed on day one was absent, as Dravid and Laxman (54) - who had joined forces without a run between them after opener Abhinav Mukund's golden duck last night - shut England out.

The nearest England came to an early breakthrough was when Anderson and Matt Prior were convinced they had Laxman caught behind, on 27. But not for the first time, DRS merely created more confusion as microphone noises - and eventually 'snicko' - indicated the batsman had got a thin edge but Hotspot concurred with Asad Rauf's not-out verdict.

Laxman therefore survived, on his way to a 104-ball half-century which was completed with a handsome off-drive off Anderson for his 10th four.

There had been a collection of crunching pulls off Anderson too for Laxman, while Dravid dealt more in trademark deft deflections - often towards the unguarded third-man boundary - than full-blooded attack.

Shortly before lunch, Bresnan gave England a lift when he got one to leave Laxman for an edge to Prior.

That departure cleared the stage for Tendulkar. But his quest for an unprecedented 100th international hundred will go on, because he poked a catch to slip off Broad in the first over after lunch.

Raina then endured an uncomfortable stay, as England targeted him with short balls, and he soon flapped a cut into the hands of point off Anderson.

England ought to have then made it 144 for five, when Yuvraj pushed Broad to gully off the back foot - only for Kevin Pietersen to put down a notably straightforward chance to reprieve his old foe on four.

Pietersen and his team-mates were still counting the cost of that drop as Dravid and Yuvraj's stand appeared to be taking the game away in a flurry of runs after tea.

An out-of-sorts Swann suffered most, and took his aggravation out on the stumps at the non-striker's end, kicking the base and knocking off the bails after conceding 14 runs in the over which saw Dravid bring up his hundred with a neat sweep for his 13th four.

Broad, it turned out, had a more productive way of letting off steam. But even after he had weaved his magic with this famous venue's first Test hat-trick, England were still behind the game - and when Cook was caught at point off a leading edge at Sharma, and Ian Bell had to come in at number three in place of the absent Trott, it was clear there was much more hard work to be done if they were going to score a second successive Test victory against the world's number one team.

PA

Comments