Only rain can stop England from completing Test whitewash

Norman Da Costa, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:25 PM ET

It’s the same old story as England continues to turn the screws on India, the country it replaced at the top of the Test rankings last week. India was demolished at Lord’s by 196 runs; annihilated at Trent Bridge by 319 runs; clobbered by an innings and 242 runs at Edgbaston. And in the fourth and final Test at the Oval, England brought out the brooms as it prepares for a clean sweep.

The only thing that could hold England from completing a whitewash is rain which already has curtailed play on two occasions during the first three days. But in between the stoppages, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell toyed with India’s bowling as England posted 591 for six. Bell raced to 235, his highest Test score, and Pietersen made 175.

Their third-wicket partnership of 350 runs was England’s best ever against India. Then, as has been the pattern this summer, India limped to 103 for five. Those back in the pavilion include Virender Sehwag (eight), VVS Laxman (two), Sachin Tendulkar (23) and Suresh Raina (0). Rahul Dravid is unbeaten on 57.

The damage this time around has been done by spinner Graeme Swann with three for 27 off 10 overs.

Before the start of this Test in London, the visitors were afforded extra security following last week’s rioting and looting in some English cities.

The squad will now have 30 undercover policemen at all of the grounds and hotels during the rest of the tour and two unmarked cars will escort the team bus.

But what India really requires is beefed up security against English bats and bowlers who have mugged India without as much as a fight. India has looked a shadow of the team that rose to No.1.

The bowlers have stuck to their task, but the fielding has been pathetic.

The batsmen have also failed to deliver. But all credit to England’s pacemen as India’s batsmen have found the swing and the short ball harder hotter to handle than the curry they are familiar with.

AUSSIES CLEAN HOUSE

England dented Australia’s cricket pride when it won the Ashes Down Under earlier this year and the Aussies did not take the defeat lightly.

The review panel formed after the debacle has recommended sweeping changes and they have been quickly implemented. Chief selector Andrew Hilditch and selection panel member Greg Chappell were given the boot and national coach Tim Nielsen has been asked to re-apply for his job.

Chappell’s firing may not come as that big a shock after rubbing some of his own players the wrong way. The former Test player also had a stormy relationship as India’s coach before he was fired. Chappell had reportedly driven players “mad” and was barred from the dressing room in the ongoing series against Sri Lanka.

CA chief executive James Sutherland said he was aware that a rift did exist between Chappell and the players. The new setup calls for the coach and captain Michael Clarke to be part of the selection committee ... At Colombo, paceman Brett Lee and spinner Xavier Docherty took four wickets apiece to help Australia crush Sri Lanka by five wickets and take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match one-day international series Saturday. Sri Lanka managed a measly 132 and the visitors made 135 for five with Shaun Marsh scoring 70.

HANSRA STARS

Jimmy Hansra played a captain’s role with bat and ball to pilot Canada to an exciting 34 runs victory over the United States and keep hold of the K.A. Auty Cup at the picturesque Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. Hansra stroked a fluent 100 from 89 balls and then stepped in with his off-spin to take three for 39. Set to score 305 for victory, the U.S. was all out for 270. Also starring for Canada was opening bat Hiral Patel, who is quickly establishing himself as one of the associate countries’ most proficient opening bats, with innings of 75 and 80.

AKRAM SLAMS SEHWAG

Former Pakistan skipper paceman Wasim Akram, now turned television commentator, took India’s Virender Sehwag to task for his almost idiotic showing with the bat in the third Test at Edgbaston that resulted in him bagging a king-pair.

“You can’t do miracles in cricket when you are not in touch with the game, and definitely not in English conditions. Sehwag’s mindset at Edgbaston was rusty.” This was the opener’s first match in months after a shoulder injury and, instead of playing himself in, Sehwag decided to clobber the first ball in each inning and paid the price ... Pace bowler Zaheer Khan is adapting well to his crutches after undergoing ankle surgery in Mumbai last Monday. Zaheer bowled 13.3 overs in the first Test against England at Lord’s last month before hobbling off after taking two wickets ... Hey, what’s going on with Bangladesh on its tour of Zimbabwe? It got hammered in the one-off Test and then went down 3-0 in the five-match, one-day internationals. It bounced back to win the fourth, but this has been one disappointing tour for a squad that was expected to do much better.

QUICK WICKETS

What’s it with former Pakistani cricket captains wanting to turn to politics. First it was the iconic Imran Khan and now Amir Sohail. Sohail, one of the finest cricketers I have had the pleasure to interview during the Sahara Cup tournaments in Toronto, has joined the PML-N party led by former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Good luck Amir, you are going to need it ... Waqar Younis will step down as coach of Pakistan’s national team following the team’s tour of Zimbabwe that starts next week. The former fast bowler, who guided Pakistan to the World Cup semis earlier this year, said: “I have taken this decision on personal grounds, including medical grounds, and have no differences with anyone. My resignation has been accepted.”


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