After a frenetic-paced start, England had moved to a sedate 268 for 4. Cricinfo declared that “honours were even” on Day-1 although the start line of the report by Andrew McGlashan gives one the impression that he may have been watching the wrong match! He writes, “England spent the early part of the season feasting on plenty of help-yourself offerings from West Indies“!
At the close of play — when bad light stopped play — both teams ended the day perhaps on par. At lunch, England had moved to 116 for 1 off 28 overs. The fact that they only scored a further 152 runs in the remaining 52.3 overs that were bowled in the day perhaps implies that India pulled things back a bit through tight bowling. In reality, it was a bit of tight bowling and a bit of over-cautiousness on the part of England.
Sreesanth got better as the day progressed. He was not really helped by his fielders. The main culprit was, of course, Dinesh Karthik with that sitter of a let-off of Strauss, just prior to the lunch break. R. P. Singh impressed all day. He bowled to a plan. He bowled a good lenght and got the ball to move all day. Anil Kumble was… well… Anil Kumble. The biggest disappointment was Zaheer Khan. He did not shoulder the responsibility of senior pace bowler well. He went to sleep on the wheel through either excitement or ineptitude or both. He had just got up on the wrong side of the bed. On top of his woeful and directionless bowling, his fielding wasn’t crash-hot either. Overall, for him, this was a day to forget.
India need a few quick wickets — especially that of the dangerous Kevin Pietersen — early on Day-2 to pull things back. Pietersen did not seem to be totally on top of Kumble and it may be the wily fox that provides India the early breakthrough. If India lets Pietersen get away, this could be a long road back…
I’d give Session-1 to England. Session-2 was, I’d think, even with Session 3 going to India. So, a session-by-session tally would read 1-1 at this stage.
Dravid’s captaincy was strong and good. Ravi Shastri, in his report, indicates that Dravid perhaps over-attacked too much too soon. Perhaps, but he gambled initially and wasn’t helped by his bowlers who started the day terribly. One of them — Zaheer Khan — stayed in that mould right through the day! He switched Sreesanth’s end around and removed Zaheer Khan, who was really bowling terrible stuff. R. P. Singh came in to the attack and bowled some sensible stuff. He didn’t panic in my view. He was merely being pragmatic.