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Zaheer plays limited role in defeat

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Niall O'Brien

Niall O'Brien, who compiled 117, made India's attack look ordinary during a 201-run opening stand with Mal Loye as Northants prospered

Zaheer Khan was only able to bowl three overs on his return from a hamstring injury as India fell to a first-innings defeat in their tour match against Northamptonshire at a packed Wantage Road.

The tourists were bowled out for 352 within six overs of the start of play, with Amit Mishra making 61 and Luke Evans claiming career-best figures of 4-74.

Zaheer’s brief spell came just before lunch and cost 24 runs. Mal Loye and Niall O’Brien survived Zaheer’s burst and smashed their way to 100 and 117 respectively, and the hosts went past their target with two balls to spare.

Mishra, Munaf Patel and Sreesanth each took two wickets as India’s attack found some joy in the match’s final session.

India resumed on 327 for seven with Mishra resuming on 48 and Sreesanth on 15, and the former completed a half-century off 102 deliveries from the first ball of the day.

Sreesanth made it to 25 before departing when substitute fielder Rob Keogh took a fantastic one-handed catch at first slip off Evans, who wrapped up the innings when he sent Mishra’s off stump spinning.

Rain stopped play when Northants had faced seven overs, leading to an early lunch, though no overs were lost.

Loye was the first to reach 50, off 77 balls, and Ireland international O’Brien followed suit from 83 deliveries.

Loye completed his first century in over a year in the first over of the evening session, off 145 balls, before he finally departed when he launched Munaf to India’s Test captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni at deep cover to end an opening stand of 201.

Zaheer Khan

Zaheer Khan's availability for the third npower Test will be assessed tomorrow after he bowled just three overs today

O’Brien then hung around to record his ton from 167 deliveries before he finally perished when he swept Mishra to Dhoni at third man.

The same bowler trapped Rob White lbw for 25 three balls later and suddenly wickets were tumbling with Rob Newton the next back to the pavilion when he edged Munaf to substitute Virat Kohli at third slip.

Northants captain David Sales was then pinned lbw by Sreesanth before David Willey pulled the same man to another substitute, Praveen Kumar, at deep square-leg.

Paul Best was trapped in front by Suresh Raina for just a single but Northants wicketkeeper David Murphy and David Burton survived the rest of the day unbeaten on 26 and 36 respectively with Burton’s four through mid-on giving his side the win.

After the match India team manager Anirudh Chaudhry claimed it has always been the tourists’ intention to give Zaheer the lightest of work-outs and revealed a decision on the seamer’s fitness for the third npower Test would be made tomorrow.

“Giving Zaheer Khan a few overs was always the plan, the reason he did not bowl more was not because of any problem with his hamstring,” Chaudhry said.

“Whatever the status is regarding Zaheer, we will issue a press release as and when his status is absolutely clear to us.

“The call is to be taken by our physio and right now he has not given his final call on whether he is ready or not.

“Zaheer will continue with his day-to-day rehabilitation programme that we have set for him, but we will know by tomorrow whether he can play at Edgbaston on Thursday.

“We will issue a press release to everybody concerned tomorrow evening as and when we know the final decision.”

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