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Rain stymies England’s progress

Root, Buttler stage recovery after India bowlers make inroads as England ends second day on 237 for 6, with a lead of 85

Rain stymies England’s progress - Cricket News
Puddles on the outfield as rain delayed play.

There was frustration for both sides as torrential rain shortly after lunch caused play to be abandoned on the second day at Old Trafford with the game most intriguingly poised. England had much the better of day one, but India winkled out three wickets in the first 90 minutes of play on Friday (August 8), before a 67-run partnership between Joe Root and Jos Buttler lifted the hosts to 237 for 6, and an 85-run lead.

When play was called off at 5:40pm local time, only 36 overs had been bowled in the day. Frustratingly for the crowd, the rain had stopped much earlier, but the vast puddles near the Pavilion End didn’t dry soon enough. With the area near the rope still squelchy and soft, the umpires took no chances.

England had resumed at 113 for 3, with Chris Jordan seemingly intent on showing that he could do much more than block in the nightwatchman’s role. A withering pull for four in the day’s second over roused the crowd, but it was that very shot that was to prove his undoing.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar tested him with a short one that lifted even though it wasn’t especially quick. Jordan played the shot down, but watched aghast as Varun Aaron threw himself to his right at midwicket to take a superb catch.

Ian Bell was markedly less fluent than he had been on the first evening, and Bhuvneshwar set him up with some old-fashioned swing bowling. The first ball just evaded the edge. The second, pitched a fraction shorter, kissed it on its way through to Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Both Root and Moeen Ali were treated to a fair few short balls. Ali, with his technique against the bouncer under increasing scrutiny, seemed determined to take it on. Twice, he played the pull with a semblance of authority, in front of and then behind square as Bhuvneshwar forgot about swing and focussed on the short stuff.

There was no such conviction against Aaron’s greater pace though. He had already seen a short ball thud into Root’s helmet and race away for four leg byes in Aaron’s previous over. A fast and quick delivery pitched in the bowler’s half ensured that Ali stayed back. The next ball was full, and it swung in viciously. Ali’s bat was still in suspended animation as it crashed into the stumps. At 170 for 6, England’s lead was just 18 and India went about its tasks with renewed energy.

But so did Root and Buttler, who rotated the strike and smacked the loose balls for four. Ravindra Jadeja was called on only in the 58th over, and was greeted by boos, while R Ashwin bowled with control but no real menace. Pankaj Singh beat the outside edge a few times and had a couple of optimistic pleas for leg-before turned down, but was also guilty of dropping too short and wide or straying on to the pads. His wait without a wicket has now extended to 384 balls.

When the umpires called the players off, Root, who had been batting with increasing fluency, was on 48. Buttler was on 22. Unless India can remove either or both early on the third day, the lead could stretch to ominous proportions very quickly.