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Sloppy Indian bowling allows England to dominate the first day

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England have dominated the first day’s play at Lord’s thanks to some wayward bowling from the Indians. Benefiting most was the out of form Andrew Strauss, who came up with a second consecutive half century against the Indian bowling attack. He and Michael Vaughan missed out on completing centuries but at 268 for 4 at stumps on the opening day, England are on the path of putting up a big first innings total. India had to work hard for their wickets and at the end of the day would feel that have a hope of bowling out England within 350 or at the max 400.

The toss was always going to play a crucial role when the wicket is as good as the Lord’s one for the batsmen. Michael Vaughan was the lucky man in calling it right and on a sunny morning decided to take the first initiative. It was Test Match Debut for Hampshire’s 25-year-old seamer Chris Tremlett instead of Stuart Broad. Ryan Sidebottom and James Anderson are the other two bowlers making the pace trio. India didn’t have any surprises in its XI with both Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni playing and the four bowlers (three quicks and Kumble) in the line up. The new ball bowlers Zaheer and Sreesanth got off to a poor start either feeding the left handers on their legs or gifting them with half volleys. Whatever it was, Cook and Strauss got England off to a flier in the first hour. It was not until the 15th over that India got its first break and the unlikely candidate to give it was none other than the much slower pacer Sourav Ganguly. Cook was given lbw by Steve Bucknor after he had played right across a nice away swinger from Ganguly. Cook by then had got 36 facing just 39 balls and cracking six fours.

India started to pull back things after Cook’s fall and almost found their second wicket but for a complete sitter at point from Dinesh Karthik. Strauss on 43 drove uppishly to a slightly wide delivery straight to point just a few minutes to go for lunch but a simple overhead catch was spilled down! England went to lunch on a happy note at 115 for 1 in 28 overs. The post lunch session completely belonged to Strauss and Vaughan as the Indians failed to take a single wicket. At Tea, England were sitting pretty at 197 for 1 with both batsmen comfortably past their fifties and in particular Strauss approaching a hundred. Atleast the Indian bowling kept it tight unlike the first session with 83 coming in 29 overs.

At the start of the last session, all eyes were on Strauss as he was getting closer to his 11th test hundred. But an act of foolishness saw Strauss lose the golden opportunity of getting three figures. The left hander gave Kumble the charge and the leggie bowled a wide skidder out of the reach of Strauss who had no option but to poke at that or he was gone stumped. That poke meant a simple catch to Rahul Dravid, the slip fielder with this one being his 150th catch. Strauss ended at 96 from 186 balls with 16 fours with his partnership for the second wicket with Vaughan being 142. That wicket brought in Kevin Pietersen but England’s progress was dented by a delay due to the deteriorating light. Play did resume after a while only to be suspended after four overs. And once it did resume, it was a clear break in concentration for Michael Vaughan. The England Captain did the mistake of playing a good delivery outside off from RP Singh who was bowling from round the sticks. Vaughan made 79 from 201 with 11 fours. In the very next over, that is the 78th one, Anil Kumble foxed Collingwood with a googly to have England at 255 for 4. Collingwood was a dead duck pretending to hide his bat behind the pad thinking that it was a leg break which wasn’t to be. It was a third ball duck for Collingwood!

With not much of time left in the day’s play, England sent in Ryan Sidebottom to do the nightwatchman duty. At the other end, Kevin Pietersen was always trying to be busy with his forcing shots. Another bad light interruption followed which closed the curtains on the opening day’s show with England at 268 for 4 in 80.3 overs. India are expected to take the second new ball straightaway and might even get an early break because of Ryan Sidebottom’s presence. Every minute that Pietersen is going to spend in the middle will keep the Indians under pressure, he has already got himself to 34 from 51 with five fours. The Indian bowling was good in patches, Kumble had brought them back in the game with tight figures of 2 for 56 in 22 overs. RP Singh with 1 for 54 in 15.3 and Ganguly with 1 for 24 in 9 overs were the other wicket takers. Both Zaheer (14-3-55-0) and Sreesanth (18-756-0) had an ordinary day.

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