Lloyd puts spotlight on India

India 349-5 dec Worcestershire 18-0
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The Independent Online
Spying on an enemy is not unknown to the English for the two have long been cosy bedfellows. Yet when David Lloyd, England's new cricket coach, revealed that part of his "slump-busting" plans for English cricket was to video India's every on-field move, the gasp of disbelief at Worcester was so loud it could have carried all the way to St John's Wood.

For a long time now, England's primitive approach to preparing themselves for the international arena has seen them labelled as the "Luddites" of world cricket. Under Lloyd, that reticence is fast changing, and should such an obvious use of modern technology bear fruit against India this summer, the next tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats could well come from Madras rather than Moscow.

Mind you, on the evidence put forward at Worcester yesterday, such measures looked unlikely as India cruised to 349 for 5 as Vikram Rathore virtually secured himself an opening berth with 165, his second century in three days.

Rathore, a tall, bearded 25-year-old whose elegant off-side play recalls much of the wristy fluency of a young Zaheer Abbas, has yet to play in a Test, having skippered the India A side for the last two years. In a country renowned for picking its players young, he may well have felt his chance of playing at the highest level had passed him by.

Selection for a recent one-day tour of Sharjah confirmed him as an assertive player whose positive attitude was noted by the selectors. They apparently dubbed him - with not unfaint praise - "Half a Tendulkar". So far he has turned that assessment on its head, having scored two centuries to the little maestro's one.

Tendulkar looked below his best and should have gone for five, Alamgir Sheriyar dropping a miscued pull off Stuart Lampitt at mid-on. Given a second chance, the Indian vice-captain scored 52, playing some audacious shots on the up before a mishit ended in David Leatherdale's hands at cover.

According to David Lloyd, Tendulkar is a "top-level international performer", though he added that England also had one or two of those. "So they can worry about us, too."

On a slow but true batting pitch, little that Worcestershire had to offer worried the tour- ists' batting line-up. Only the left-arm seamer Sheriyar, with 3 for 64, was involved in dismissals with any merit in a generally sloppy performance. Rathore was caught off a no-ball on 18, and three catches were spilled, including Mohammad Azharuddin, who, like his vice-captain, made the most of it to complete a brisk half-century.

Unless Graeme Hick or Tom Moody can get going in spades today, the home side will have no chance of collecting the pounds 7,500 Tetley is putting up for county sides who manage to beat the tourists.

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