Broad's six wrecks India

Broad's six wrecks India

Visiting batsmen come a cropper on Day One; Dhoni stands tall amidst ruins

Broad's six wrecks India
Eight for four in 5.1 overs. You don’t often see such a scoreline in international cricket. Yet, India’s scorecard read exactly that 46 minutes into their first innings of the fourth Test at Old Trafford against England on a gloomy Thursday.

India needed a miracle of massive proportions to climb back from that deep hole. On a couple of instances, they seemed to get back on track but each time England struck through Stuart Broad (6/25) and James Anderson (3/46). India were bowled out for 152 in their first innings, with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s assiduous 71 (133b, 15x4) being the lone beacon.

Indian bowlers showed some spunk and skill to pluck three English wickets of Alastair Cook, Sam Robson and Gary Ballance before close. But at 113 for three and behind only by 39 runs, England are in full command of this match that started 30 minutes behind schedule because of rain and a wet outfield.

Back to the storyline of the day – India’s spectacular top-order collapse. India’s eight for four was the second worst figure at the time of the fall of the fourth wicket in the first innings of a Test after England’s two for four against South Africa at Johannesburg in 1999.

At Lord’s, England had chosen to bowl first under favourable conditions but spoiled that chance, eventually sliding to a defeat. Here, England skipper Cook would not have believed his luck once Dhoni elected to bat on a murky morning.

This time his bowlers didn’t let Cook down, finding the right line and length straightaway. Anderson fell into his groove, and received splendid support from Broad as the Indian top-order was shred into pieces in no time.

Gautam Gambhir was the first to go. The southpaw, who made his return to Test cricket after more than a year, lasted just 13 minutes and seven balls. He succumbed to an old weakness, a tame prod outside the off-stump off Broad that flew straight into the hands of Joe Root at gully – 8/1.

M Vijay, the pillar of the visitors’ batting in this series, didn’t have any option other than edging a perfect outswinger from Anderson to Cook at first slip – 8/2. Virat Kohli had never looked so out of sorts as he has been in this series and his horror show continued. Kohli failed to come behind the ball, while tackling another away swinger from Anderson, and only an edge could have been possible from that position. It happened precisely so, and Cook grabbed the chance with ease – 8/3.

Just like Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara too has been going through a modest run in this series, rarely converting his starts. Pujara might have thought there was enough power in the shot off Broad to beat the slip cordon. But Chris Jordan took a superb catch diving to his right as Pujara became the third batsman in the top four to be dismissed for a duck – 8/4 and India were in a shambles.

So what next? The all-time lowest total in Tests, India’s lowest Test total in England, thoughts were running wild. However, Ajinkya Rahane and Dhoni combined to add 54 runs off 18.1 overs to prevent an embarrassment of epic proportions. Rahane has looked extremely comfortable in the middle on this trip, and this day was no exception. Dhoni didn’t have an easy time in the middle, but showed enough pluck not to throw his wicket way, combining fortune and his own inimitable technique.

They did well to survive a testing phase of bowling by Anderson and Broad, and once they were out of the attack the Indians began to accumulate runs. Rahane could have left Jordan’s delivery outside the off-stump, but a fatal push ended in a catch to Ian Bell at second slip, ending a promising partnership.

Ravindra Jadeja fell to Anderson in the post-lunch session as India slumped to 63 for six. Dhoni and R Ashwin (40) milked 66 off 83 balls to temporarily stall England’s progress. Just as the seventh-wicket stand was chugging along, Broad returned to dismiss Ashwin, who was dropped on 25 by stumper Jos Buttler off Jordan. The late-order batsmen didn’t have any chance against Broad.

He took four wickets off 21 balls conceding just six runs in the post-lunch session, revealing England’s dominance and India’s meekness.