England still wary of India

Nottingham, July 26:

England are still wary of India’s formidable batting lineup ahead of the second Test at Nottingham starting on Friday, despite the visitors’ disappointing performance in the rain-affected first Test draw.

Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman all failed to get past 50 in either innings at Lord’s. But England paceman Chris Tremlett, part of an unchanged England lineup, is still treating India’s batsmen with respect.

“It would be stupid to say their leading batsmen are in decline,” said Tremlett, who took 3-52 in India’s second innings in his debut Test. “They are obviously great players. They didn’t score many at Lord’s but it would be stupid to say that they are losing their touch.”

India’s top four batsman in England have a combined 84 Test hundreds. But India were bowled out for 201 in the first innings and reached 282 for 9 wickets in chasing an unlikely win in the second innings before rain ended the match early.

“We would like to score more runs than we have, there is no doubt about it,” said skipper Dravid. “When we’ve put big runs on the board it has made a huge difference to our team.”

Tremlett said India struggled to deal with a Lord’s pitch that swung the ball around. He also praised England’s tight bowling unit which was missing the stars of previous years.

With pacemen Matthew Hoggard (back), Steve Harmison (hernia operation) and Andrew Flintoff (ankle) all injured, the seam attack was led by swing bowler Ryan Sidebottom, along with paceman James Anderson and Tremlett, along with spinner Monty Panesar. None of them have played more than 20 Tests.

India’s less heralded players also did well at Lord’s, with Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik providing the backbone of both innings, and left-armer Rudra Pratap Singh taking Test best figures of 5-59 in his fifth Test.

“It is nice they are getting runs and wickets and making a name for themselves,” Dravid said. “If some of the guys who have performances behind them can recreate some of that, we should be very competitive.” Ganguly sat out one India practice session with a sore back, which affected him while batting in the first Test. If he can’t play, Yuvraj Singh will likely take his place.

The rain that threatens to disrupt the second Test forced a first Test draw at Lord’s. England needed only one more wicket on Monday’s final day before the players left the field under darkening skies for an early tea. India still needed 98 runs to win, but poor weather prevented play from resuming.