The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Strong reply by Derbyshire

Derby: The Indian bowlers put up an unimpressive show as Derbyshire made a strong reply to reach 228 for three at close on the second day of their three-day tie here Thursday.

India earlier declared their first innings at 445 for eight with wicketkeeper Ajay Ratra scoring an unbeaten 101 to make a strong claim for a berth in the fourth and deciding Test at The Oval next week.

Ratra’s century was a timely reminder to tour selectors especially since 17-year-old Parthiv Patel still has the crepes on his badly bruised right knee.

Only leg-spinner Anil Kumble, coming in to bowl late in the day, struck with two quick wickets to bring some cheer for the Indians on the field. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was the other successful bowler, scalping opener Steve Stubbings for 66 when the hosts were on 131.

Kumble cleaned up Dominic Hewson, also for 66, and night-watchman Paul Adred (2). Both were caught in the close-in cordon after playing attractive knocks. While Stubbings hit 12 fours, Hewson’s innings was laced with 10 boundaries and a six. Playing only his second first-class game, opener Riwait Khan, who remained unbeaten on 77, smashed 13 fours off 105 balls in his 240 minutes stay in the wicket.

Left-hander Stubbings was aggressive from the start and hit several piercing off-drives and soon, his partner, Khan found his moorings and took command. Indeed Khan was the first one to reach his half-century before Stubbings made a crashing off-drive against Tinu Yohannan to reach his own personal landmark.

Earlier the Indians, resuming at the overnight score of 301 for five, declared their innings at lunch immediately after Ratra had reached his century.

Ratra, unbeaten on 50 at the start of play, batted for 288 minutes and faced 206 balls, hitting 14 fours in his unbeaten knock. Ratra reached his landmark in rather fortuitous circumstances.

He pushed Neil Gunter to the covers and took off and regained his crease just in time as a throw hit the stumps and rebounded towards the mid-wicket area, giving him two runs for his century.

Ratra batted for 288 minutes and faced 206 balls, hitting 14 fours. Stand-in captain Rahul Dravid, unbeaten on 40 Wednesday, didn’t come out to bat and it allowed Kumble and Harbhajan Singh to polish their batting edges ahead of the final Test.

Kumble played some astonishing drives and in one Jason Kerr over hit four boundaries in succession on the offside.

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