Posted by Tony Hutton
After a somewhat hazardous journey on the motorway system around Birmingham on Sunday night, we were relieved to find that as requested our room in the Premier Inn next door to the Worcester County ground had a marvellous view not only of the ground but the Malvern Hills in the distance. We were therefore well positioned for the start of this four day match on Monday morning 31st July.
The groundstaff were up bright and early and preparations were underway around 7 a.m. on Monday morning. Everything seemed to be done with military precision, the removal of the plastic sheeting and the covers, the switching of a wicket cover from one strip to another and the general tidying up all round the ground after a T20 game the previous afternoon. We had a grandstand view of all this going on.
India, fresh from their convincing victory over England in the first test at Chesterfield last week, won the toss and decided to bat in fine sunny conditions. There was to be no repeat of their mammoth score in the first game as both Warwickshire pacemen Panayi and Brookes claimed early wickets and India were 68-2. The advent of fourth seamer Ravi Patel from Surrey soon turned the match very much England's way.
First of all he had opener Shaw caught behind for a useful 51 from 63 balls and soon afterwards had Das well caught by Yorkshire's Harry Brook at slip which made it 98-4. Then on the stroke of lunch he clean bowled Kaira with a precision yorker. The first ball after the interval and Patel struck again bowling Nagarkoti for nought. Mavi survived not only the hat trick ball but stuck around for the rest of the innings to top score with 86 not out.
Strangely for a four day match England played only one spinner and Virdi, another Surrey player, bowled 22 overs, but took only 1-67. Even stranger after his four quick wickets Patel never bowled again in the innings and his figures were 6-1-21-4. All the Indian tailenders showed that they can bat and stuck around with Mavi to reach a substantial first innings score of 292 which seemed most unlikely when they were 106-7. One highlight for us was afternoon tea and cake in the Ladies' Pavilion which seems never to have changed, with an old fashioned atmosphere and lots of interesting memorabilia on the walls, together with all sorts of items on show in the pavilion.
England's first innings got underway just before the close of day one, but sadly Harry Brook ran himself out for only two and it ended very much India's day. On Tuesday morning the England captain Max Holden, from Middlesex, looked capable of a big score, but after Patel had gone for 24 Holden was the third man out for 71. He was soon followed back to the pavilion by Warwickshire's Banks and England were 141-4. Bartlett from Somerset dug in and scored 50 in two and a half hours, but the real innings of the day came from Will Jacks, a third Surrey player.
As the tail collapsed around him Jacks hit out, after reaching 50 from 81 balls. His second fifty came from only nineteen balls and when he was last man out for 102 his innings had contained nine fours and six sixes. So despite the last four men not scoring a run between them England finished only eight runs short of the Indian total.
Rain showers plagued the match throughout but were usually of a brief duration. Full marks again to the groundstaff who did everything so efficiently and quickly so that play was always able to restart very soon. We did not see the last two days but India obviously went about their business in a very positive way on day three scoring at four an over throughout their innings. Number three Gill was top scorer with 102, which included 15 fours, with good support from Shaw and Das. Virdi, the off spinner was the best bowler with 4-82, but surely England missed a second spinner.
India continued to bat on the last morning totalling 330 all out. You felt they should have declared earlier to have time to bowl England out. However when England reached 164-2 it looked as though a draw was very much on the cards, but when top scorer Bartlett was out for 73 the innings again collapsed during the late afternoon. In fact they went from 220-5 to 241 all out and lost by 97 runs.
All the bowlers contributed well but Mavi, the hero of the first innings with the bat, finished things off with the last two wickets and had the best figures of 3-40. Full marks to the very enthusiastic Indian team for a 2-0 series win and hopefully the England side can bounce back in the forthcoming one day series.