Rain checks England’s progress

India aim for consolation win in fourth and final Test.

Afp August 18, 2011

LONDON: England’s hopes of completing a whitewash against India were hampered after rain meant no play after lunch on the first day of the fourth Test at The Oval.

England were marooned on their lunch score of 75 without loss after captain Andrew Strauss defied the gloomy overhead conditions by opting to bat first on a typically good Oval pitch having won the toss.

Strauss was 38 not out and fellow left-hander Alastair Cook 34 not out, with England already 3-0 up in this four-match series after a crushing innings and 242-run third Test victory at Edgbaston that saw them replace India at the top of the ICC’s Test Championship table.

India, beset by injuries, suffered another when medium-pacer Praveen Kumar, one of their few successes this series, was ruled out. Kumar was replaced by RP Singh, playing his first Test in more than three years and himself only on tour as an injury call-up for fellow left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan, who broke down in the series opener at Lord’s.

Engineer urges India to restore pride

Meanwhile, India great Farokh Engineer has said it is vital the tourists restore their own pride and that of the cricket-crazy nation when they try to avoid a Test whitewash.

Engineer, one of the best wicket-keeper batsman of his era, said India had been caught cold by Strauss’ men.

“India underestimated England, they were under prepared,” said Engineer. “England have played far better than everyone expected them. Although the true test will come when they play on subcontinent wickets,” added Engineer, who appeared in 46 Tests for India from 1961 to 1975. “They’ve got to play for pride, because Indians are very proud of their cricketing heritage and it has hurt the average Indian that his team has performed so miserably on this tour.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2011.