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Sussex escape with a tense draw

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The fourth and final day’s play between the Indians and County Champs Sussex seemed to be just a formality. However, there were plenty of twists and turns in the day’s play to have the spectators and the players sitting on the edge of their seats. As many as 15 wickets fell in the day’s play with Sussex barely escaping with a draw with just the one wicket in hand. The Indian bowlers were guilty of not finishing up things even though they had 47 legal deliveries to capture the last wicket.

The Indians were at a shaky 21 for 2 having lost Jaffer and Dhoni yesterday. The repair work wasn’t efficiently carried out with Yuvraj (18 from 32) and Dinesh Karthik (33 from 81), the two overnight batsmen falling one after the other to have India tottering at 76 for 4. It was 81 for 5 when Gambhir (7 from 26), the first innings hero got caught at point and soon 104 for 6 when VVS Laxman got out in an unlucky fashion. Laxman’s (16 from 23) shot off Saqlain Mushtaq had smashed the silly point fielder but unfortunately for the Indians, the ball rebounded and went straight into the keeper’s gloves.

Sussex had a winning chance with the Indian lead at 208 with just another two wickets in hand. But the Skipper Rahul Dravid had come in as low as no.7, so Sussex had to break the wall which wasn’t possible. What’s more, the Skipper went onto add a precious unbeaten 64 runs with no.10 R.P.Singh, whose real batting abilities came to be seen only in this match. However, Dravid denied RP Singh, his maiden half century in first class cricket as he declared the innings at 184 for 8 leaving a target of 273 from 55 overs. RP Singh had to satisfy himself with a career best score of 41 not out which had come in 46 balls with 7 fours. Dravid remained unbeaten on 30 from 53 with two fours. The Indian captain had to use Dinesh Karthik as his runner because of a mild calf strain that was sustained during the first innings. Saqlain Mushtaq was used for just the four overs out of the 51 overs which gave room for speculation that he could be selected to play for England in the Test Series! Saqi, the former Pakistani off spinning wizard has recently acquired a British Passport which means that he is eligible to represent England!

The Indians had used Dinesh Karthik as the wicket keeper with MS Dhoni rested because of a niggle and the side was led by VVS Laxman in the absence of Dravid. The three pacers got Sussex down to 46 for 3 with another 40 odd overs left in the game. But a 50-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Montgomerie and Thornley brought Sussex back into the safety zone. But these two batsmen and also Hodd, the first innings centurion and Rayner fell at almost the same phase of the game to leave Sussex in the danger of losing at 123 for 7. Montgomerie, the opening batsman made 59 from 83 with 10 fours before getting lbw to Kumble. The Indians couldn’t go onto finish the tail with Saqlain Mushtaq providing the resistance for 27 balls, then James Kirtley for 20 balls and the no. 11, Jason Lewry sticking there for 24 balls. All these three bowlers were supporting Robin Martin-Jenkins, who stayed unconquered with a match saving 45 having survived for 87 balls! In the first innings as well, Martin-Jenkins frustrated the Indians by batting out for 106 balls.

Sreesanth and Anil Kumble were the bowlers used by VVS Laxman to break the last wicket partnership. Both those bowlers tried their best but weren’t penetrative enough. Kumble once again was the most successful Indian bowler with 3 for 57 from 20 overs. Sreesanth had a mixed bag with 2 for 47 from 14 overs while RP Singh looks certain to be the third seamer for the Lord’s Test with his 2 for 28 from 11 overs. Ranadeb Bose is struggling to make an impact as he has ended the match with just two wickets. India still have another match coming up before the Lord’s Test which will be at Chelmsford against England Lions which is led by Andrew Strauss.

Indians 1st Inngs 388 for 7 declared in 130.5 Overs (VVS Laxman 95 Gautam Gambhir 81 Dinesh Karthik 76 Rahul Dravid 57 retired hurt Yuvraj Singh 31, Saqlain Mushtaq 3/71 Rayner 2/34) & 2nd Inngs 184 for 8 declared in 51.0 Overs (RP Singh 41* Karthik 33 Dravid 30* Yuvraj Singh 18 Laxman 16 Kumble 13, Lewry 2/31 Yardy 2/32) drew with Sussex 1st Inngs 300 for 6 declared in 85.1 Overs (Andrew Hodd 106 Michael Yardy 53 Robin Martin-Jenkins 42 Chris Nash 28 Rayner 19*, Kumble 3/66) & 2nd Inngs 190 for 9 in 55.0 Overs (Montgomerie 59 Martin-Jenkins 45*, Kumble 3/57 RP Singh 2/28 Sreesanth 2/47)

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