Archive for Raul Dravid

The Lord’s Day

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , , , , on July 24, 2011 by telescoper

Time for a brief report on yesterday’s Big Day Out to London to watch the third day’s play of the First Test between England and India at Lord’s. The journey there passed off without a hitch, and I got into London a shade after 9am. It’s a fairly short walk from Paddington to Lord’s (if you know the way!) and the queue to get in moved pretty quickly, so  I was inside the ground well before 10am, scoffing a splendid bacon sandwich in the Warner stand, adjacent to the pavilion.

The weather wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped – overcast most of the day, and not particularly warm – but we got started on time at 11am and had a full day’s play. The ground was full, and there was a good atmosphere, with a sizeable contingent of Indian supporters adding to that special buzz you get on the Saturday of a Test Match at Lord’s.

Conditions, being conducive to swing, were fairly helpful to the bowlers, although it took them a while to find their line (especially in the case of Tremlett, who also kept bowling no-balls). Of the two Indian openers, Mukund looked far the more assured; his partner, Gambhir struggled in comparison. This pair took the total to 63 without too many alarms until Stuart Broad was brought into the attack and proved to be the pick of the England bowlers. He quickly disposed of Gambhir for a slow 15 of 46 balls, managing to squeeze a full delivery between bat and pad.

That brought in Raul Dravid, who batted most of the rest of the day for a very fine century (103 not out). Mukund, who had scored the lion’s share of the runs in the opening partnership, got to 49 and stuck there for quite some time, held up by the accuracy of England’s bowling and, one suspects, nerves at the prospect of a half-century at Lord’s. Eventually he reached for a wide ball from Broad to drive and, rather unluckily, played on.

That brought in one of the all-time greats Sachin Tendulkar (to a warmly-felt standing ovation from the Lord’s crowd). I had been looking forward for ages to see him play.  One or two early alarms notwithstanding, Tendulkar and Dravid looked increasingly secure and began to score freely against the attacking field placings set by England captain Andrew Strauss. It was starting to look like  a mammoth Indian score might be on the cards when, somewhat surprisingly to me, Tendulkar edged one from Broad and a sharp chance was snaffled by Swann at slip; he was gone for 34 and India were 158 for 3.

There then followed a fascinating period of play, in which Swann (who hadn’t bowled before lunch) twirled away from the Pavilion End while a combination of quick bowlers (first Broad, and then Tremlett) steamed in from the Nursery End. England dropped two catches in one over from Broad, and Swann was posing problems but not making a breakthrough. Laxman, who had come in to replace Tendulkar looked all at sea and eventually played a rash lofted pull shot, which was caught right in front of us at deep backward square leg. India 182 for 4 was soon 183-5 as Raina went lbw to Swann, who deserved a wicket, although he did tend to bowl a bit short on occasions.

Mindful of the possibility of a collapse, the Indian batsmen went into their shells and there followed an absorbing period of attritional cricket, as Dhoni and Dravid steadied the ship. Then Dhoni was caught at slip of Tremlett – who bowled much better later in the day – to be replaced by Harbhajan Singh who survived one no-ball before playing a dreadful shot which resulted in him being caught at the wicket by Prior.

At 241-7 India were in real danger of being forced to follow on (which can be enforced if the team batting second does not get within 200 runs of the first innings total; England scored 474-8, so India needed to reach 275 to avoid it). In strode Kumar who made it quite clear what his strategy was going to be by clubbing his first ball for 4. He played  a variety of shots in his short innings – some authentic, some agricultural – not only adding entertainment value, but also taking India to 276 before skying a hook shot and getting caught.  Neither the injured Khan (batting with a runner) nor Sharma troubled to scorers and India ended up all out for 286, with Dravid remaining unbeaten until the end.

It was getting fairly dark at this point, about 6.30pm, and England couldn’t have been relishing the 5 overs they had to face before the close but they survived without loss, and I headed off back to Paddington. A thoroughly enjoyable day’s cricket and, I might add, quite a few beers. I also took a bit of time off the cricket to take a stroll around the perimeter of the stadium, which is an interesting thing to do as there are many shops and catering outlets around. The main shop at Lord’s is a bit of a disappointment, however, full of ugly overpriced tat, but  at least no hideous paperweights.

Anyway, many thanks to my genial host for the day – we were in the part of the ground reserved for members and their guests – old friend and regular contributor this blog, Anton.

Unfortunately the journey home wasn’t so enjoyable. I got the train on time, but we stopped just past Swindon where it appeared that all power had been lost on the signals between Swindon and Bristol Parkway. We sat motionless and then trundled back to Swindon, eventually setting off again via Gloucester, of all places. I’m glad I took a good long book with me, as the crossword didn’t take very long. I was supposed to be at Cardiff Central at 21.47, but didn’t actually arrive until 11.27, 1 hour and 40 minutes late. Columbo was most annoyed.

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