England's pace assault leaves India on the ropes
THE only damage fully supported by the Birmingham public yesterday was that inflicted on India by England's bowlers at Edgbaston.
In conditions not overly helpful to their cause, the pace trio of Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and James Anderson dismissed the tourists for 224 -- a bold step on their team's final assault on the summit of the world rankings.
Fine early work, after Broad and Bresnan had taken four wickets apiece, was tempered slightly by MS Dhoni's counter-attack, in which captain Andrew Strauss retreated rather too quickly, having had India on the ropes at 111-7.
However, judging by the way Strauss, with his first Test half-century since January, and Alastair Cook had reached 84-0 by the close, the runs conceded during that period were not looking so precious.
As in the previous Test at Trent Bridge, Broad and Bresnan were the chief destroyers, with Anderson chipping in. Strauss put India in to bat after winning his first toss of the series and Broad struck gold immediately, removing Virender Sehwag with his first ball.
Sehwag, a fearsome striker who can destroy any attack on his day, was caught behind by Matt Prior trying to leave a short one from Broad that ran off his glove.
India rallied with a half-century partnership between Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid. But, just as it appeared they might have forced England's seamers to consider plan B, Gambhir drove at Bresnan and got an inside edge onto his stumps.
Sachin Tendulkar has resurrected many unpromising positions during his glittering career, but Broad had him caught in the slips for just one.
Anything Broad could do, Bresnan could match, though when technique and temperament are required of batsmen, few wickets come with a higher premium than Dravid's. It needed a pearler too, on the cusp of lunch, something broader than a wall to stop one that looked straight enough when it came down but moved away sharply to hit off-stump after it had pitched.
With India 92-5, Dhoni, supported by Praveen Kumar, decided that attack was the only option. It is a method Dhoni should adopt most of the time for he strikes a ball wonderfully well -- as Anderson soon found out when he deposited him for six over long-on.
With the field back and with growing trust in Kumar, Dhoni was able to score at will without being threatened and the pair added 84 before Kumar fell after another review revealed he'd been caught behind. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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