Indian pacers unimpressive in drawn tour match

Published: Sunday, August 4, 2002, 19:01 [IST]
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Worcester (England): Off spinner Harbhajan Singh staked his claim for the second Test with intelligent bowling before rains had their final say on the four-day match between the Indians and Worcestershire which ended in a tame draw on Saturday.

Rains which washed off the entire first two day's play, intervened twice on Saturday and decisively 25 minutes before the scheduled tea break when Worcestershire was 200 for six in reply to Indians' 417 for eight declared. Only 54 overs were bowled in the day during which none of the Indian bowlers, except Harbhajan Singh, were able to make an impression.

Harbhajan, who was left out for the first Test, bowled only 11 overs but his duel with Worcestershire captain Graeme Hick was the highlight of the day. Hick, a former England batsman who has an average of nearly 60 in county cricket, struggled against Harbhajan Singh who made him look like a novice of spin bowling with his intelligent variations.

The off spinner finally won the battle with a beautiful delivery that dipped and hurried off the pitch to catch Hick leg before wicket. Hick made 27. That duel was the only high point for an otherwise listless Indian attack which seemed out of sorts and lacking in rhythm. If Harbhajan brought smile on Ganguly's face, there was not much joy from the medium- pacers Ashish Nehra and Ajit Agarkar who generally struggled through the day. Nehra was unimpressive in his two spells before lunch, conceding 50 runs from 10 overs but recovered strongly to finish with 2 for 69 from 15 overs.

The Delhi medium- pacer struggled with his run-up mostly and bowled no less than nine no balls. It was a no-ball which didn't fetch Ajit Agarkar a wicket off his first ball in the match but he did earn a scalp for himself having Vikram Solanki (5) caught by Rahul Dravid in slips. If Ganguly was worried about his medium-pacers' bowling, he was lifted by his own form with the ball as the Indian captain claimed two wickets for 21 runs from five overs.

Ganguly claimed the first home wicket off his very first delivery when Anurag Singh (46) chased a widish outswinger straight to Virender Sehwag in the slips. Ganguly also picked up wicket-keeper James Pipe for 12 to reduce the hosts to 200 for six before rain washed out the remaining play.

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