Rain stops play as India fights back to score 302/8

Published: Saturday, August 10, 2002, 3:23 [IST]
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Nottingham: Rain stopped play in the second Test between England and India at Trent Bridge at 15: 38 GMT on Friday.

India was 302 for eight with Harbhajan Singh 13 not out and Zaheer Khan one not out. Ganguly scored a fluent 68 before he was out caught by Stewart off Hoggard. Earlier at tea, India captain Saurav Ganguly was left with the prospect of shepherding the tail after England debutant fast bowler Stephen Harmison took two wickets for one run in eight balls. India was 287 for seven with Ganguly, who had won the toss Thursday, 68 not out off 148 balls including 11 fours.

On the stroke of tea India's debutant wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel was dismissed for a duck. Patel, at 17 years and 153 days the youngest gloveman in Test history and playing in this match after first choice Ajay Ratra injured himself batting in the nets, had an unhappy start to his top-flight career. The diminutive left-hander lasted just eight balls before fending at a rising Harmison delivery, which was well caught by Andrew Flintoff at second slip.

The Durham quick had already ended Ajit Agarkar's streaky innings when he had the all-rounder caught low down for 34 at third man by Mark Butcher. After rain had washed out the entire morning session, play resumed at 13:20GMT with India 210 for four with Ganguly 29 not out and Laxman unbeaten on 22. The normally fluent Laxman struggled, facing 14 balls on Friday before he was dismissed without adding to his overnight score.

A Flintoff delivery cut sharply off the pitch and Laxman, driving away from his body, was well taken by England debutant Robert Key at first slip. Laxman's dismissal left India 218 for five but Ganguly was scoring quickly. After straight driving Hoggard for a textbook four, next ball left-hander Ganguly used the Yorkshireman's swing to his advantage, with a flourishing cover-driven boundary. Ganguly, who made his second Test century at Trent Bridge back in 1996, brought up his fifty with another superb cover-driven four, this time off fast-medium bowler Craig White.

Ganguly had faced 99 balls including eight fours. But it was a different story for Agarkar who had two lucky escapes and looked a different player from the man who hit a chanceless unbeaten maiden Test hundred during India's 170-run first Test defeat at Lord's. On six, he edged Flintoff over White in the gully. And nine runs later he had another escape, a mistimed drive again off Flintoff flying to third slip where substitute fielder Darren Maddy could not hold on to the high right-handed chance.

Maddy was on the field in place of Dominic Cork, one fifth of England's all right- arm, all pace, attack. Recalled all-rounder Cork was off with the knee injury that had forced his early exit Thursday. Ganguly too had a worrying moment when on 61 a Hoggard bouncer hit him high on the neck, an area unprotected by his batting helmet.

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