Gallian picks his moment

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The Independent Online
THE TCCB cricket secretary, Tim Lamb, arrived here late on Thursday evening, bearing gifts from the home of cucumber sandwiches. The head teacher, John Barclay, should hand out what is left of the booty to the star pupils, Alan Wells and Jason Gal lian, after the nuisance they caused the Indians in the playground at Eden Gardens.

With the departure of Mark Ramprakash to Australia, the responsibility for England's run-making lay with the Nos 3 and 4 and they were not found wanting in a 154-run stand for the third wicket.

Positive and aggressive from the start, their footwork was nimble and quickly in good working order, and they did not allow the spinners to exert any consistent pressure on a somnolent pitch. Coupled at 55 for two, 52 minutes before lunch, Wells and Gallian were not separated until 10 balls after tea when the Lancastrian shaped to cut the slow left-armer Chatterjee and was caught behind.

His 77 was his third half- century of the tour, to go with his 100 in Delhi, and the cut of his jib is definitely stamped "Test-match standard".

Early in the tour, he twigged that imitation was the highest form of flattery and so copied the locals who pad away the slow bowlers' best effort. Now, secure in the knowledge that he could defend, Gallian looked to keep his score moving, picking off thesingles with some intelligent running and claiming membership of the there's-more-room-in-the-air brigade with some lofted drives off the spinners.

He was equally at ease against the seamers and if Graeme Hick's injury proves stubborn to treat, Gallian's decision in 1990 to qualify for England could receive the ultimate vindication.

Born in Sydney of English parents, Gallian arrived in Manchester via the Australian Cricket Academy and their under-19 team. His peers included Shane Warne and Michael Bevan, already fully fledged in the Test world, of course. But Gallian insists he is not thinking about the full England side. "At the moment, I'm just concentrating on doing well on the tour. I want to score as many runs as I can, start the season off well for Lancashire and then hopefully the selectors will pick me."

Alan Wells declared on the eve of the Test match that he was not "just here to captain the side. I still have international ambitions as well." A wretched summer by his standard ruled out any chance of an Ashes spot, but here he was at his most assured.

Driving and cutting confidently, he matched Gallian stroke for stroke in making his highest first-class score since the A team's Test match against South Africa in Port Elizabeth 12 months ago.

It was the new ball that finally undid him. Paras Mhambrey's in-swinger had already accounted for David Hemp leg before, playing across the line, and the seamer had his second victim in 11 deliveries when Wells failed to get to the pitch, Yadav taking the catch. That was some consolation for the wicketkeeper who had missed stumping chances when Wells was on 43 and 86 - the second a relatively simple chance that had the sparse crowd hooting with derision.

Earlier, Mhambrey had induced a loose shot from Nick Knight and tempted Michael Vaughan - or just plain Michael as the scoreboard insisted on calling him - to swat a short-pitched ball straight at deep fine leg. The Bombay bowler's performance highlighted the failure of India's gamble in picking him as the only recognised seamer. Ganguly was a miserable fill-in and Praveen Amre had few options open to him when his spinners were going nowhere during the afternoon session.

Mhambrey's late intervention hauled the Indians back into contention and when Dominic Cork, or Dominic to the scoreboard, went just before the close, England had lost three wickets in the last 11 overs to leave the captain Wells slightly rueful.

He said: "Right up until then we were in a fantastic position, but losing those three wickets was a little disappointing. We were setting up a massive total and if we'd gone into the third day maybe four wickets down, we'd have been extremely 737 235.0 50

happy. But we've still got plenty of batting to come. Paul Nixon and Glen Chapple have scored first-class centuries and Ian Salisbury a Test fifty so our first target is still a lead of 100."

The senior side have shown their expertise at throwing away good positions on many occasions. This team have so far shown an ability to hold on to the initiative. More of that now and a Test series win is a distinct possibility.

(India A won toss; second day)

INDIA A - First Innings 216 (U Chatterjee 72).

ENGLAND A - First Innings N V Knight c Yadav b Mhambrey 31

M P Vaughan c Ganguly b Mhambrey 15

J E R Gallian c Yadav b Chatterjee 77

*A P Wells c Yadav b Mhambrey 93

D L Hemp lbw b Mhambrey 18

D G Cork lbw b Chauhan 12

P A Nixon not out 7

M M Patel not out 2

Extras (b5 lb12 nb3) 20

Total (for 6) 275

Fall: 1-38 2-55 3-209 4-243 5-250 6-270.

To bat: G Chapple, I D K Salisbury, R D Stemp.

Bowling (to date): Mhambrey 21-3-58-4; Ganguly 5-1-21-0; Chauhan 27-3-76-1; Chatterjee 24-5-64-1; Bahatule 13-2-36-0; Dravid 1-0-3-0.

Umpires: A V Jayaprakash and S K Bansal.