Loye, O'Brien further expose Indian bowling

Loye, O'Brien further expose Indian bowling

Visitors suffer first-innings defeat

An inspired bowling show in the final session of the day notwithstanding, India failed to stave off a major embarrassment here at the County Cricket Ground which was swarmed by drum-beating and horn-blowing Indian supporters, who provided festive atmosphere.

Holding the match by the scruff of its neck at 261 for one, Northants appeared to be losing their way once India took six wickets for 40 runs. But Paul Best and David Burton combined to add 54 runs for the unbroken eighth-wicket alliance to help hosts reply with 355 for seven, bettering India’s 352 all out.   

Earlier, India, overnight 327 for seven, stretched their innings to another 5.3 overs while adding 25 more runs. India, by virtue of batting first, had a chance to bat 100 overs, but they could last only 95.3 overs. Abhinav Mukund, who retired hurt on 113 on Friday, didn’t resume his batting, and visitors wound their innings after the fall of ninth wicket -- Amit Mishra (62, 120b, 8x4).

The Haryana batsman, unbeaten on 48 overnight, duly completed his half-century before being cleaned up by Luke Evans. The right-arm quick also accounted for the other wicket -- S Sreesanth (25) -- to fall on the day to add two more scalps to return a four for 74 haul.

Northamptonshire rode on the attacking display by Mal Loye (100, 149b, 13x4, 2x6) and Niall O’Brien (117, 172b, 17x4) to reach 201 for the opening stand at a brisk rate, and despite the former’s dismissal, Northants still held all the aces with them.

O’Brien continued in the same vein while his new partner Rob White took time to get into the groove. The two added 60 runs between them when O’Brien fell to his attacking instincts, opening the flood gates. Mishra, Munaf Patel and Sreesanth all got amongst wickets as Northants were reduced to 301 for seven. However, a combination of bizarre bowling tactics, with skipper Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni bowling towards the end, and some stubborn batting by the lower order, helped the home team cross the line.         

Not for the first time in the series India were bowling with only three regular bowlers with Zaheer Khan bowling just three overs. The good news was that he appeared in no obvious discomfort, but nothing much should be read into it. Zaheer’s absence for the subsequent period of play meant Sreesanth, Munaf and Mishra had to bear all the brunt.

They were simply ineffective and after a while just went through the motions against the rampaging Northants’ left-right opening combo. Loye, 38, is one of the oldest cricketers in County circuit, and the right-hander made most of the lacklustre Indian attack.

A former England international, Loye made his intentions clear by slog-sweeping Zaheer for six over square-leg in only the fifth over of the innings. He handed the same treatment to Sreesanth and Mishra as runs came at a torrent. They maintained a run-rate of around four for most part of their chase while at the start of the innings it was close to five per over.

O’Brien was the more sedate of the two but only in comparison. The left-handed Irish international played the perfect foil to bolster the Northants’ innings.

INDIANS (O/n: 327/7): Amit Mishra b Evans 61 (122m, 120b, 8x4), S Sreesanth c Sub b Evans 25 (48m, 39b, 4x4), Munaf Patel (not out) 2 (8m, 5b). Extras (LB-10, NB-1, W-3) 14. Total (in 95.3 overs) 352.
Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Sehwag), 2-49 (Gambhir), 3-181 (Laxman), 4-231 (Dhoni), 5-237 (Raina), 6-269 (Saha), 7-284 (Zaheer), 8-345 (Sreesanth), 9-352 (Mishra). 
Bowling: Dave Burton 20-4-66-1, Luke Evans 21.3-2-74-4 (nb-1, w-2), David Willey 18-3-68-1 (w-1), Lee Daggett 19-3-52-1, Paul Best 17-1-82-1.

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE: Mal Loye c Dhoni b Munaf 100 (179m, 149b, 13x4, 2x6), Niall O’Brien c Dhoni b Mishra 117 (211m, 112b, 17x4), Rob White lbw Mishra 25 (32m, 29b, 4x4), Rob Newton c sub b Munaf 3 (6m, 5b), David Sales lbw Sreesanth 11 (24m, 18b, 2x4), David Willey c Substitute b Sreesanth 12 (35m, 24b, 2x4), David Murphy (not out) 26 (93m, 58b, 2x4), Paul Best lbw Raina 1 (5m, 6b), Dave Burton 36 (73m, 51b, 5x4). Extras (B-6, LB-1, W-4, NB-13) 24. Total (for 7 wkts, 83.2overs) 355.
Fall of wickets: 1-201 (Loye), 2-261 (O’Brien), 3-262 (White), 4-264 (Newton), 5-289 (Sales), 6-300 (Willey), 7-301 (Best). 
Bowling: Zaheer Khan 3-0-24-0 (w-2), S Sreesanth 16-1-74-2 (nb-2, w-1), Munaf Patel 17-2-91-2 (nb-5), Amit Mishra 25-2-64-2 (nb-5), Suresh Raina 16-1-68-1, MS Dhoni 3-0-13-0, Gautam Gambhir 3.2-0-14-0

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