India thrive on run feast

India 290 for 4 England NCA 176 for 8 (India win by 114 runs)
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The Independent Online
These days, most tours start with a handful of one-day games which as contests are meaningless but which play an important part in the overall preparations for the tougher matches ahead. These outings give all the members of the party the chance for early practice in the middle which, even against relatively modest opposition, is worth more than interminable sessions in the nets.

As Sachin Tendulkar had scored a century on Sunday he stood down, and it was the turn of Mohammad Azharuddin and Vikram Rathore to score hundreds against the National Cricket Association. Even such experienced players as Tendulkar and Azharuddin will be happy to find everything in working order at this stage of the tour.

Azharuddin is always a joy to watch batting against any but the fastest of bowlers. He is rather less in command when the ball is pitched short and flies at his throat, but yesterday he produced a succession of typically wristy strokes, aided by perfect timing, and he seemed incapable of an ugly movement.

Rathore is one of the several newcomers in this Indian side and he, too, played some fine strokes, reaching his 100 in exactly 100 balls. He thrived on the off-side, driving first off the front foot and then going on to the back foot and finding the gap between cover and extra. He has a nice square cut, too.

Navjot Sidhu and Sanjay Manjrekar did not make the best use of their chances, and with Azharuddin batting for 33 overs and Rathore for 34 there was not much time for anyone else. But India were always unlikely to be short of runs on this tour.

The NCA bowlers, coached by Chris Old, stuck to their task well, although they will be grateful they do not regularly come up against batting of this class. The NCA's batting went rather better after Javagal Srinath and Paras Mhambrey had each picked up an early wicket.

Simon Luckhurst, the son of Brian, of Kent and England, and his captain Malcolm Roberts played some good strokes in a stand of 101, and none was better than the three fours Roberts hit in one over from Saurav Ganguly. Azharuddin gave all four of his seamers a gentle work-out before turning to his spinners: the left-armer Sunil Joshi, the leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani and the off-spinner Rahul Dravid. The spinners all looked in need of a long bowl.