Friday, 17 July 2009

Second Ashes Test, Lord's, Day One

Sports - Cricket - Cricket

My picks of the first day:

England captain Andrew Strauss showed how it is done hitting his 18th Test century and reaching 5,000 Test runs on a gripping opening day of the second Ashes Test at Lord's. Apart from the record opening partnership of 196 runs with Alastair Cook, the top order broke and collapsed around the capatin after he won the toss and decided to bat first. Somehow England slid from 196-0 to 364-6, giving Australia something from nothing.

Run of Play: Advantage to...

1st session, England 126 for 0 at lunch:
England for the much needed record opening partnership, could not have been a better and more comfortable start.

2nd session, England 255 for 2 at tea: England for frustrating and at times nearly embarrassing the Aussies - the opening wicket came out of nowhere.

3rd session, England 364 for 6 at the end of day one: Australia for once again breaking through England and making them crumble when you thought they were on top.

Partnership: 196 runs between Andrew Strauss (82) and Alastair Cook (95): After all the discussion about and demands for stronger partnerships and centurions, the skipper and his opening partner could not have made a better start. Australia's bowlers were all over the place, not able to cope with the pitch and swing at Lord's, especially with the new ball, England made more than just use of it. The run rate rarely fell below four and boundaries came regularly and beautifully. The wonderful partnership completely dominated the morning session and continued confidently after lunch. Out of nothing, the much-needed swing came for the Aussies and caught Cook out, dead lbw, just before reaching his century. Shame. And typically for England, the push lead to shove, the first wicket to more wickets, only the captain holding on and keeping his team and the runs rolling.

Bowling: Most of the day was a nightmare for Australia. The bowlers could not get anything out of the new ball, especially Mitchell Johnson. He did not look the shadow of the bowler he is, ranked third in the ICC's world's top international test match bowlers. He did not get the seam right, gave away a lot of boundaries at a run rate of around seven an over and gave away a lot of extras, too. Aussie wicket keeper Brad Haddin had a day to forget, too, dropping, letting through and getting nowhere near a lot of wides and byes. Between all this bowling and fielding shambles, Ben Hilfenhaus was the only light. Confident, constant and always a threat, he only leaked half the runs with ten maidens and in the end got a couple of wickets he fully deserved. The old ball did it for Australia, they finally got the swing of it late in the day and hesitated to take the new ball straight away.

Ups: England finally producing a high partnership and centurion. They rode on the Aussies and their lack of control but did not lose control, always keeping focus.

Downs: As always, when England lose one, more will follow soon after. Disappointing collapse after the strong start. The Aussies will have heaved a big sigh of relief after getting their grip back on the match in the evening session after being smacked around for the rest of the day.

Hero to zero: The top order disappointed once again. After a grand opening partnership, there was nothing and nobody to hold onto after the first wicket fell. Andrew Strauss has been left on his own so far since Cook's departure.

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