Lewis on the rampage for new England

England 291-8 v India 96-5
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The Independent Online
It may have been a new-look England team that took the field at here yesterday, but it was two old hands, Chris Lewis and Graeme Hick, with more than a hundred one-day internationals between them, who put the home side into pole position. When rain stopped play for a second time, India needed another 196 from 33 overs today if they are to prevent the hosts from going one up in the series.

Hick, with a robust 91 from 102 balls, was the main reason England reached 291, though they gained impetus from the contributions of debutants Alistair Brown and Mark Ealham, whose 40 in 32 balls contained two mighty sixes.

But if Hick has shown a steady improvement since his international debut in 1991, Lewis has veered from the sublime to the ridiculous, sometimes in the same match. Yesterday his bowling was rarely anything but sublime, and his 4 for 29 off six overs is his best return to date.

It is rarely prudent to draw lasting conclusions from performances in one-day cricket. Even less so when the performer is Lewis, a supreme talent, whose chief ability since his international debut in 1990 has been to exasperate and delight team-mates and members of the medical profession in equal measure.

Last year, he managed just four days cricket with his second county, Nottinghamshire, before taking the rest of the season off with an injury to his hip. It was no great surprise when Lewis moved county again, this time to Surrey where in front of a full house yesterday he could do no wrong. Perhaps his talent has at last found a garden in which to blossom.

Taking the new ball, he received scant help from the other end as Sachin Tendulkar tucked in to some leg-stump strawberry mousses as Cork persistently looked for outswing that simply was not there, and Cork, talented cricketer that he is, had to put up with the indignity of being replaced by Peter Martin after just two overs.

Tendulkar was in brilliant form, clipping and driving with an ease and power that belies his short stature. A huge hooked six off Lewis's second over was conjured from nowhere.

With Vikram Rathore taking 15 off Martin's first over, India gained a momentum that England's more serious attempts earlier in the day failed to match. By batting two pinch hitters in the first three, the hosts managed only 31 for 1 off the first 10 overs. By contrast India were 50 for 0 off five and looking set to finish the match off early.

It was then that Lewis began to make inroads. Rathore, having languidly picked up Martin off his toes, got himself in a tangle trying to do the same to Lewis and was palpably leg before. Judging by the celebration Lewis then performed, it is choreography and not cricket that has been keeping him busy over the past year.

Perhaps mirroring England's use of Neil Smith at No 3, India sent out Anil Kumble to join Tendulkar. Two balls later, it was being written off as a failed experiment as Hick clung on to a stinging edge at second slip.

Adopting Sri Lanka's no-surrender approach, Tendulkar continued to go for his shots when perhaps a period of retrenchment would have served better. A heave across the line at Martin was enough to get Tendulkar pronounced lbw.

Lewis then produced a corker to dismiss Navjot Sidhu, and one almost as good to get rid of Sanjay Manjrekar, both balls coming back sharply off the seam. It was that movement that hampered the effectiveness of Brown in his free-stroking opening role, and he was dropped in the slips off his second ball by Rathore.

Swinging a hefty bat effectively requires room and the Indian bowlers gave none. With the occasional bounce and movement, life was never easy for the batsmen and both Michael Atherton and Graham Thorpe were caught behind off the moving ball.

No such excuse could be found for Brown, who was bowled hoiking across a straight ball after Smith had edged to Tendulkar at slip. But if Brown's downfall was reckless it paled beside Alec Stewart's, the Surrey skipper running himself out after pushing the ball almost straight back to the bowler.

All the while Hick was pacing an innings that contained six boundaries. In the end, the brilliance of England's late order denied him the century he deserved.

n Lancashire have asked the Test and County Cricket Board to start disciplinary proceedings against Ray Illingworth following publication of extracts from his forthcoming book this week.

The Oval scoreboard

England won toss

ENGLAND

*M A Atherton c Mongia b Prasad 13

(41 min, 31 balls)

A D Brown b Mhambrey 37

(86 min, 52 balls, 4 fours)

N M K Smith c Tendulkar b Mhambrey 17

(15 min, 11 balls, 4 fours)

G A Hick c Manjrekar b Srinath 91

(151 min, 102 balls, 4 fours, 1 six)

G P Thorpe c Mongia b Jadeja 26

(41 min, 31 balls, 2 fours)

A J Stewart run out (Jadeja) 3

(7 min, 6 balls)

R C Irani c Prasad b Kumble 11

(18 min, 13 balls)

M A Ealham b Kumble 40

(41 min, 34 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes)

C C Lewis not out 29

(17 min, 21 balls, 2 fours, 1 six)

D G Cork not out 0

(5 min, 1 ball)

Extras (b1, lb11, w11, nb1) 24

Total (8 wkts, 215 min, 50 overs) 291

Fall: 1-31 (Atherton), 2-57 (Smith), 3-85 (Brown), 4-141 (Thorpe), 5- 147 (Stewart), 6-176 (Irani), 7-252 (Ealham), 8-276 (Hick).

Did not bat: P J Martin.

Bowling: Srinath 10-1-45-1 (nb1, w2) (6-1-20-0, 2-0-11-0, 2-0-14-1); Prasad 10-1-63-1 (nb1) (6-1-28-1, 2-0-16-0, 2-0-19-0); Mhambrey 9-0-69- 2 (w4) (7-0-50-2, 2-0-19-0); Kumble 10-1-29-2 (5-0-12-0, 3-1-7-1, 2-0- 10-1); Tendulkar 6-0-44-0 (w2) (5-0-27-0, 1-0-17-0), Jadeja 5-0-29-1 (one spell).

Progress: 50: 53 min, 75 balls. 100: 102 min, 136 balls. 150: 139 min, 192 balls. 200: 177 min, 244 balls. 250: 195 min, 271 balls.

Hick 50: 93 min, 68 balls, 2 fours, 1 six.

INDIA

V Rathore lbw b Lewis 23

(23 min, 19 balls, 3 fours)

S R Tendulkar lbw b Martin 30

(30 min, 19 balls, 5 fours, 1 six)

A Kumble c Hick b Lewis 0

(2 min, 2 balls)

N S Sidhu b Lewis 3

(16 min, 13 balls)

*M Azharuddin not out 15

(48 min, 25 balls, 1 four)

S V Manjrekar b Lewis 3

(10 min, 8 balls)

A D Jadeja not out 11

(24 min, 18 balls, 2 fours)

Extras (b4, lb2, w4, nb1) 11

Total (for 5, 17.1 overs) 96

Fall: 1-54 (Rathore), 2-54 (Kumble), 3-56 (Tendulkar), 4-62 (Sidhu), 5-68 (Manjrekar).

To bat: N R Mongia, J Srinath, P Mhambrey, B K V Prasad.

Bowling: Cork 3-0-21-0 (w2) (2-0-20-0, 1-0-1-0); Lewis 8.1-0-40-4 (nb1); Martin 6-0-29-1 (w2) (one spell each.

Progress: 50: 21 min, 31 balls. Rain stopped play: 4.01-6.02pm at 73 for 5 (Azharuddin 5, Jadeja 4) 13 overs. Bad light stopped play: 6.21.

Umpires: R Julian and P Willey.

TV Replay Umpire: J C Balderstone.

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