Sat, Jul 12, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Robson, Ballance stand firm against India in first Test


India wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, left, looks on as England batsman Sam Robson plays a shot on the third day of the first Test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Matching unbeaten half-centuries from Sam Robson and Gary Ballance saw England fight back in the first Test against India at Trent Bridge in Nottingham yesterday.

England were 131-1 in reply to India’s first innings 457, a deficit of 326 runs, at lunch on the third day, but they had not lost a wicket during yesterday’s morning session, although Robson was dropped on 43.

Both Australia-born opener Robson and Zimbabwe-born Ballance were 59 not out after they had each completed a half-century in 123 balls.

England, without a win in their past eight Tests, resumed on 43-1 after captain Alastair Cook had been bowled round his legs for 5 by Mohammed Shami on Thursday.

That made it 25 innings since Cook scored the last of his England record 25 Test centuries, with his average in that period a meager 24.

“When you are in a bit of a rut, you’ve not scored runs for a while, things go against you, but it will turn,” England paceman Stuart Broad said of Cook’s dismissal on Thursday evening. “It only takes a cover-drive or dropped catch to change your momentum.”

India’s total owed much to a record last-wicket stand against England of 111 between Bhuvneshwar Kumar (58) and Shami (51 not out).

“It was a good day because it’s not a good wicket for bowling, so we needed at least 450 runs,” Kumar told reporters on Thursday.

Kumar, reflecting on his partnership with Shami, added: “I tried to play most of the over when Shami came in, but later he was playing his shots.”

In the circumstances, Broad’s economical return of two for 53 in 33 overs was especially creditable.

“It was frustrating, but we tried pretty much everything with the ball,” Broad said.

England, after two days of bright sunshine, saw Robson (20 not out) and Ballance (15 not out) walk out yesterday in overcast conditions that promised to assist India’s seamers on a still largely docile pitch.

Robson, who in common with Ballance scored his maiden Test century during England’s recent series defeat by Sri Lanka, was quickly into his stride.

He cover-drove Shami for four and next ball clipped the seamer off his legs for another boundary.

Shami gave way to the quicker and taller Ishant Sharma — the only member of India’s attack to have previously played a Test in England.

Sharma unsettled Robson with a well-directed bouncer, one of the few balls to rise sharply on a slow surface, that struck the batsman’s gloves in front of his face.

Left-hander Ballance, though, clipped Sharma off his pads, cut him and turned him square again for three fours in five balls after going 63 balls without a boundary.

However, Robson had an escape when he turned left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja behind square only for leg-slip Virat Kohli to drop the low catch.

Ballance then late-cut debutant all-rounder Stuart Binny to the third-man boundary to complete his half-century and Robson’s similar shot off the medium-pacer got him to the landmark.

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