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Bhuvneshwar makes it India’s day

Gary Ballance props up England in collaboration with Moeen Ali, but it still ends second day 76 in arrears with just four wickets in hand

Bhuvneshwar makes it India’s day - Cricket News
Garry Ballance scored a tremendously assured hundred that got England right back into contention.
The day the Lord’s Test began, Gary Ballance was the butt of many jokes. On Friday (July 18), with his team in some disarray, he scored a tremendously assured hundred – his second in two Tests at Lord’s and his third in three first-class games – that got England right back into contention in the second Test against India.
 
By the time he was dismissed just before stumps, superbly taken down the leg side by MS Dhoni after a faint tickle off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ballance had scored 110 off 203 balls. His 98-run partnership with Moeen Ali had appeared to put England in command, but when those two departed within 21 balls of each other, India wrested the initiative. At stumps, England was 219 for 6, still 76 in arrears.
 
Ballance’s dismissal gave Bhuvneshwar a fourth wicket, just reward for some probing spells. He will never be quick, but he made sure the batsmen had to play at most deliveries, and his ability to move the ball either way kept them guessing. Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami were impressive only in patches, while Stuart Binny was denied Ballance’s wicket when Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan at first slip both stood frozen while an edge streaked between them. Ballance was on 36 at the time, and England 91 for 3. It could yet prove a key moment.
 
Ballance, who got to his hundred with three fours in a Stuart Binny over, was especially impressive when playing in the V. There were a couple of punchy straight drives, and he was also adept at picking off anything too wide or too close to his pads. He had struggled initially, with the ball moving in the air and off the pitch, scoring just 16 from the first 71 balls he faced. Thereafter, he was quite fluent, finding the gaps regularly as the bowlers flagged a little in hot conditions.
 
Ali started with a haymaker for four through midwicket off Ravindra Jadeja, but was circumspect thereafter as England ate into India’s advantage. He had his problems with Jadeja targetting the rough outside off stump, but managed to get the pad outside the line often enough. It was ironic then that he eventually fell to the innocuous part-time spin of M Vijay, playing all around what was nothing more than a half volley.
 
After Ben Stokes had wrapped up India’s innings with the tenth ball of the morning, England began its reply poorly. Alastair Cook saw off 28 balls, but the next, which Bhuvneshwar got to shape away, was edged to Dhoni. Ajinkya Rahane had put down Sam Robson at second slip when he had made just 6, but it wasn’t to prove as costly as the Ballance lapse later. Robson nicked a Bhuvneshwar delivery while attempting a big drive to one that moved away. At 31 for 2, England was in some trouble and it got worse after lunch when Ian Bell was surprised by a Bhuvneshwar delivery that reared up to rap the glove before lobbing to the slip cordon. 
 
Ballance made the most of his reprieve to accelerate to his half-century, but there was time for more drama before the tea interval as Bruce Oxenford sent Joe Root on his way. Jadeja had slipped in a quicker one and though bat and pad were quite adjacent, replays seemed to suggest an inside edge. At 113 for 4, it was definitely India’s day. It still finished that way, but Ballance and Ali made sure in the final session that England was far from out of it.

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