x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Homecoming for hat-trick hero Stuart Broad at Nottingham

Rahul Dravid's 117 edges India in front despite England all-rounder's six wickets and the Indian batsman hopes his bowlers will strike early.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND // Stuart Broad capped his remarkable re-emergence as an international cricketer of substance on Saturday with a hat-trick to breathe life into England's chances against India at Trent Bridge.

The 6ft 5in fast bowler ended India's first innings with six wickets in all, as day two of the second Test turned into the story of a local boy made good.

Broad was born in Nottingham. When cricket commitments allow it, he is a regular at the City Ground, the home of his favourite football team, Nottingham Forest, which is just across the road from this ground.

He lives so near by, when the floodlights are switched on here, he has to pull the curtains in the front room of his house.

Seldom has he needed to convince these locals of his worth, but some of the wider English public had started to have their doubts at the beginning of this year.

It now seems ridiculous to think that Broad began this series as a doubtful starter for England.

How times change. Broad was the final victim the last time a hat-trick was taken in Test cricket, when he fell to Peter Siddle during the Ashes series last winter.

When he repeated the trick himself, by sending back MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Praveen Kumar in successive balls, it brought about an astonishing capitulation for India. It was his first hat-trick since under 15 level at Oakham School.

They should have led by 150 or more on first innings. Thanks to Broad, it was just 67.

Broad told Sky Sports 1 in a post-match interview: "It's always nice to get a hat-trick anywhere but to get it at Trent Bridge is special."

When he took his cap and settled into his position in the field at the end of his finest over, he made a nod to someone in the crowd at the Radcliffe Road End.

It was not clear exactly who he picked out, but his father, Chris and sister, Gemma, were sat there, so it probably did not take much guessing.

Yesterday was 16 years to the day since another fair-haired England seam bowler, Dominic Cork, took three wickets in three balls in a Test against the West Indies, a side whose status as the best side in the world at the time had long since started to decline.

England will hope Broad's feat this time round will spell the same for India, seeing as they are best placed to assume their mantle as world No 1. His effort was the latest double exclamation mark in a series that is already establishing itself as a classic.

It is a meeting between the two leading Test sides in the world, but more specifically it has become a duel between a fast bowler who is rapidly coming of age, Broad, and a batsman for the ages, Rahul Dravid.

India's startling demise in the evening session undid much of the good work Dravid did in making a century as an emergency opener. It is not the first time "The Wall" has been out of sync with his teammates.

It seems a little unfair that Test cricket's most indefatigable batsman, and an Indian great, has missed the two biggest cricketing parties ever seen in that country.

It is two years since he played the last of his 339 one-day internationals, and he has never played a Twenty20 international, meaning he has missed both their 2007 World T20 triumph and their 50-over success this year.

In April, while the limited-overs version of India's national team were putting the finishing touches to their World Cup carnival in Mumbai, Dravid could not have been farther from the centre of attention.

He was playing in front of barely anyone in Abu Dhabi, in the opening match of the English domestic season. And he made a century then, too.

Before this Test, Dravid had batted for more time and faced more balls in Test cricket than anyone else, and he extended his record a little further.

Although India could have been even better placed, they still start today in the box seats, especially after Ishant Sharma dismissed Alastair Cook, England's previously prolific opener, for his third single figure score in consecutive innings.

Dravid said the tourists would look to make more early inroads into the England batting line-up.

"We need to take wickets early on," said Dravid. "Tomorrow's [Sunday's] morning session is going to be crucial. We have to restrict them as much as we can and chase what we have got to chase."

pradley@thenational.ae


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