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England crumble despite late resistance

Dileep Premachandran reports exclusively from Trent Bridge for The Sunday Guardian.

Dileep Premachandran  NOTTINGHAM | 29th Jul 2011

Sreesanth celebrates after taking the wicket of Matt Prior. REUTERS

ake one: With conditions staying the same pretty much through the day, India didn't make the right new-ball call. In the press box, Michael Holding, one of the pace thoroughbreds of his day, sat and shook his head in amazement. All three bowlers picked up three wickets and there was little to separate them in terms of performance. But when the ball's hard and new, it has to go to the quickest men. In his subsequent spells, Praveen showed that there's more to his repertoire that early swing. In the second innings, MS Dhoni should throw the ball to Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma.

Take two: He bowled wonderfully at times, summoning up one of the balls of the day to swing out and take the edge of the in-form Matt Prior's bat, but no day of cricket featuring Sreesanth would be complete without some sort of incident. It came when he induced a false shot from Ian Bell, and dived forward to try and take the return catch. Perhaps he wasn't sure that he'd caught it on the bounce, but the exuberant celebration that followed only made Dhoni cringe.

Take three: He's out in front on his own now when it comes to catches by outfielders, but Rahul Dravid's shelled a few in recent times. Today, Praveen was the bowler to suffer as Bell got the edge and Dravid dived low to his right to take it. He almost held on too, only to see the ball pop out as he hit the ground. A few overs later, he went to his left, an even tougher chance offered by Tim Bresnan, and took it as clean as you like.

Take four: At lunch, Sourav Ganguly wasn't amused. In overcast conditions at Headingley in 2002, he had decided to bat. Dravid and Sanjay Bangar had a big partnership and India won by an innings. "India always do better when batting first," he said. After lunch though, as India picked up six wickets to reduce England to 124 for 8, he may have changed his mind. What would be interesting to know, however, is what he thought of Dhoni's fields once Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann started to swing like Count Bosie's bands – deep square leg, deep point, fine leg and third man.

Take five: Broad's stroke-filled 64 could yet have a huge bearing on the outcome of this match. Each shot he played was like a knife through India's heart, especially as it brought back memories of the allrounder they had such high hopes for. Once upon a time, Irfan Pathan used to play such correct strokes and then take the new ball as well. Broad did that today, following a 66-ball cameo with a searing spell, and illustrated the value of the No.8/9 who's multi-talented.

Take six: Watch them while you can, because you won't often see such batting techniques again. While Abhinav Mukund lasted one ball, Dravid and VVS Laxman saw off a fearsome 15-over interrogation in overcast conditions. Plenty of deliveries zipped past the outside edge or caught the inside one, others thudded into pad or splice. But there were also moments of supreme technique – Dravid relaxing the grip to prevent an edge carrying to slip, and Laxman reaching out to thread one through the covers. There weren't many runs scored, but you'd struggle to see a more gripping example of what makes Test cricket so unique and worth watching.

 
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