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Ballance, Bell build on Broad brilliance

After paceman takes 6 for 25 to skittle India for 152, England reaches 113 for 3 at stumps on day one

Ballance, Bell build on Broad brilliance - Cricket News
Ian Bell of England in action.
Duck Discomfit was on the menu for India’s batsmen as Stuart Broad and James Anderson ran amok in overcast conditions on the opening day of the Old Trafford Test. The innings lasted only 46.4 overs, and but for MS Dhoni’s doughty 71, the scoreboard would have presented an even uglier picture. Broad finished with 6 for 25, and Anderson had figures of 3 for 46 as India totted up a record-equalling six noughts in their 152 on Thursday (August 7). England, which batted in much more benign conditions, had progressed to 113 for 3 by stumps, with Ian Bell and Gary Ballance adding 77 after the openers had fallen cheaply.
 
A slight morning drizzle had delayed the start by half an hour, but the sun had started to shine by the time Dhoni won the toss. With R Ashwin back in the XI as a second specialist spinner, Dhoni asked M Vijay and Gautam Gambhir, playing his first Test since December 2012, to pad up. By the time they had walked out though, the sun had gone into hiding.
 
Under an ominous grey sky, Anderson found immediate swing. But the first quarter hour passed by without too much alarm, except for Jos Buttler, who palmed over a delivery that rose viciously from just short of a length. Then, in the space of 13 balls, India’s game plan was torn to confetti.  
 
First, Gambhir played inside the line of a Broad delivery angled across him, and the leading edge flew to Joe Root at gully. Seven balls later, Anderson had Vijay edging to Alastair Cook at first slip after a hesitant prod to a perfect outswinger. Virat Kohli, enduring the most wretched of tours, then followed in almost identical fashion.
 
Cheteshwar Pujara, another who hasn’t lived up to advance billing in this series, went hard at a Broad delivery outside offstump. On another day, the edge might have streaked through the slip cordon. This time, it went to Chris Jordan’s right at fourth slip, and he provided further evidence of why he’s so highly rated as a fielder.
 
At 8 for 4, it was India’s third-worst start in 82 years of Test cricket. Dhoni, whose technique is generally not considered adequate for such conditions, was marking his guard in the sixth over, with England and Cook in seventh heaven.
 
Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane enjoyed some good fortune, especially when Dhoni flashed hard at Chris Woakes and saw the edge clear Cook at slip, but they also showed plenty of resolve in getting the innings going. Rahane played the ball late and left well, while Dhoni frequently ventured well outside the crease to combat the swing.
 
Anything that was pitched up was driven or edged with great force, and there were smartly scampered singles too as the recovery gathered momentum. But then, with lunch in sight, Rahane wafted lazily at a fairly wide ball from Jordan, who had gone wicketless in Southampton. Bell took the catch at third slip. The partnership was worth 54, with Rahane contributing 24 from 52 balls.
 
Ravindra Jadeja fell to the same ploy that had worked for Anderson in Southampton. First, he slanted a couple of deliveries across the bat and then shaped one back into the pads. Jadeja’s attempt to clip it away connected with thin air and the umpire had a straightforward decision to make.
 
In the 68 minutes that followed, there was a semblance of a contest. Dhoni cut and drove when the ball was there to be hit, while Ashwin showed positive intent from the first ball he faced. He got a chance too, when Buttler, who didn’t have a great day behind the stumps, put down a chance to his right off Anderson when Ashwin had 25.
 
Dhoni needed nearly three hours and 115 balls for his half-century, but any sense of well-being in the away dressing room disappeared when Ashwin took on a short ball from Broad. The miscue carried only as far as Sam Robson, running in from deep square leg.
 
Bhuvneshwar Kumar didn’t play a stroke to one that struck the top of offstump and with desperation the name of the game, Dhoni fetched one from outside off and found Jordan at deep square leg. His 133-ball 71 featured 15 fours.
 
Pankaj Singh’s ambitious hoick gave Broad six for the innings on the stroke of tea, and India came out after the interval knowing that early wickets were imperative to stay in the game.
 
Robson, who has looked increasingly hesitant and scratchy as the series has progressed, duly gave them one, shouldering arms to a Bhuvneshwar delivery that nipped back sharply to hit the top of off stump. Cook, who had struck a couple of beautiful fours down the ground, then gave Varun Aaron a first Test wicket in nearly three years, beaten for pace and pulling straight to Pankaj in the deep.
 
Ballance, who rarely missed out on a chance to put the bad ball away and Bell, who batted with the fluency of the last Ashes summer, consolidated well though. Ashwin was called on in the 22nd over and Bell quickly made his intentions clear with a skip down the track and a loft towards the sightscreen.
 
The day was meandering towards stumps when Aaron provided one final twist. Coming round the wicket, he thudded one into Ballance’s pads. The vociferous appeal was upheld, and India went back to the pavilion with a smidgen of hope after its worst day of the tour.  

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