Cricinfo: India v England 2005-06
CricinfoIndia v England 2005-06



2nd Test (Day 4, March 12, 2006): India v England at Mohali, 9 - 13 March 2006
Kumble goes in for the kill

Yesterday it was a personal milestone; today it was all about the team. Anil Kumble charged India to a position of great strength, with an allround effort, snatching a valuable lead and then spun a web around the bewildered English batsmen to leave India with a great chance of taking a 1-0 lead in the series.

As Mike Atherton wrote, England had entered this series with a plan to tackle Kumble. Push forward, make contact in front of the pad and look to score through the on side. It worked in the spinless Nagpur track but the Mohali pitch offered Kumble his twin weapons: turn and bounce. He exploited them and how.

A freakish dismissal opened the gates for him. Andrew Strauss, increasingly edgy as the minutes trickled by, swept hard at Kumble. The edge rebounded off the boot and popped up to Dhoni. Almost immediately, Harbhajan Singh, with a little bit of help from Darrel Hair, removed Kevin Pietersen to leave England wounded and Kumble smelt blood. Switching to a higher gear, he probed, hustled, teased and tormented Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood. He bowled round arm to get conventional legbreak, spun out a few googlies with his two-fingered grip, and of course, slipped in topspinners and sliders. The bounce disconcerted the batsmen, the spin confounded them, the pace hurried them and slowly they were transformed into puppets in the master.s hands. Having bowled at Bell a few deliveries at a slower pace, he slipped in a quicker one: it fizzed off the track and trapped him in front. But the umpire gave Bell a second lease of life. Kumble didn.t droop nor sulk; he kept coming hard at the batters. Collingwood pushed at a leg break, but a hard chance was grassed in the slips, a hard chance, but it exposed his weakness and Kumble swooped in for the kill. He slided a few in, and then suddenly, threw one on the off, turning away. An unsure Collingwood poked at it and was snapped up in the slips.

Then came a magical passage of play that reduced the Ashes hero Andrew Flintoff, who had tackled Shane Warne with aplomb, to a mere mortal. He kept pushing forward, bat in front of the pad as he played for the one sliding in, but Kumble kept taking it away, beating him three times in an over. The sight unnerved the man standing on the other end. Bell, who had nudged and dabbed his way around, pushed at what appeared a harmless ball, short of length and turning away ever so slightly, and the nervous poke resulted in a fatal edge. Kumble had broken Bell.s resistance and probably that of England.


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