Category Archives: Pietersen

World Twenty20 Team

Adam Mountford from the BBC picks his World Twenty20 team. The twelve-member-team has in it two Indians (Yuvraj Singh and M. S. Dhoni). The team also includes two Australians (Matthew Hatden, Stuart Clark), one West Indian (Chris Gayle), 4 Pakistani players (Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul), one Kiwi (Daniel Vettori), one South African (Morne Morkel) and one Englishman (Kevin Pietersen).

Not only is Dhoni the ‘keeper, he is also captain of the World Team that’s been chosen by Mountford who says: “Not only is he a real entertainer, but who better to captain a T20 Dream Team than a real swashbuckling hero. Ian Chappell said on TMS that a team takes on the personality of its captain, and thinks India are playing without fear because of the character of Dhoni. That is how I want this super team to play.

1. Matthew Hayden
2. Chris Gayle
3. Yuvraj Singh
4. Shahid Afridi
5. Shoaib Malik
6. Misbah-ul-Haq
7. M. S. Dhoni (captain and wicket-keeper)
8. Morne Morkel
9. Daniel Vettori
10. Umar Gul
11. Stuart Clark
12. Kevin Pietersen

This is not a bad team at all in my view and has the right people in it.

Comments/views?

— Mohan

Ps: How come Ajit Agarkar and Matt Prior do not rate a mention? 🙂

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Three interesting Pieterson incidents

Rewind to the Test series and we remember how Pieterson was given out caught behind by Simon Taufel. As Pieterson walked back and almost reached the boundary line, looking back, his compatriots in the balcony urged him to stay and go back. Television replays had shown that the ball hit the ground before going into Dhoni’s gloves. Pieterson stayed and was recalled by Taufel.

Fast forward to yesterday’s game at Bristol. Pieterson chased down a ball to the boundary and almost saved a certain boundary. But as he picked up the ball, his hand clearly brushed the ropes. Pietorson just got up and threw the ball back to the keeper as if nothing had happened. Of course this time it was not the reserve Indian players in the balcony, but the third umpire who alerted the on field umpire and the boundary was declared. TV commentator Gavaskar thrives on these situations. He immediately was up in arms saying “If a fielder claims a catch that may have hit the ground he is labelled a cheat! What about a fielder who knows it is a four but would rather let technology do its job!”

And finally the Pieterson dismissal yesterday. Chawla got him with a flighed leg break that hardly turned. Pieterson playing for the turn, was beated in the flight and bowled through the gate. Pieterson could not believe it and as he walked back mouthed the words “He bowled me?” to Bell. Pieterson kept looking back at the field as he reached the boundary line but unfortunately there were no English players signalling him from the balcony!

— Sanjay

England Vs India: Test 3 Day 3 — Another good day in the office for India…

The pre lunch session was another India session, thanks to two late wickets by Anil Kumble. Team India looked a bit ragged in the field though in this session. A dropped catch, some wayward bowling and a slow over rate did not help India’s cause. It was a session in which India only bowled 25 overs!

Given the match situation, it was somewhat surprising that India’s over rate was as poor as it was. There seemed to be a sluggishness and languidness to the play when what may have been required was urgency and fervour. It was also surprising that Kumble got to bowl only 5 overs in this session. I am not sure why he wasn’t given more of a bowl!

But perhaps Dravid was having things in reserve. He swapped the bowlers around in short-sharp spells. Given the hot and humid conditions and against the backdrop of the knowledge that India may need to stay on the field for a long-long time to squeeze out a victory, it is likely that short-sharp spells was the plan.

The dropped catch did not help either. Again it was Karthik that dropped a simple catch at leg slip. Dravid had placed Karthik strategically at leg slip to snatch Alistair Cook’s uppish leg glance. The shot was played off Sree Santh and Karthik fluffed it. It was a somewhat shoddy display indeed. Following tight on the heels of a thorough and professional display on days 1 and 2 of this Test match, this was a somewhat sorry showing from India.

Nevertheless, this was a session that belonged to India. England scored 100 runs but lost the wickets of Anderson, Cook and Vaughan. This session was India’s and the session-by-session score reads 6-0 in favour of India!

Sree Santh, who was somewhat listless before lunch, bowled with fire after lunch. He had Pietersen in some trouble in one over — an over that incidentally contained 3 no balls and also contained a few out swingers, a few in swingers, a wide delivery, a bouncer, a slower ball and much much more! The young man wanted to exhaust his entire repertoire in the one over!

The post-lunch session was a rebuilding session for India and one would be forgiven for having visions of it being the first session that belonged exclusively to England. That was until the penultimate over before tea. Off Sachin Tendulkar’s first ball in the match, Pietersen had a brain explosion that resulted in him launching into an expansive drive the moment he saw the ball above his eye sockets. The premeditated launch defied the match-context and the result was almost predictable! That was a big wicket although I still think that that session belonged to England, its first in the match.

The pre lunch session did, however, contain yet another Howell gem! Off the second ball Collingwood faced, he was plumb in front to a beauty from Kumble. I received an immediate SMS from a friend that read, “If that ball won’t have hit the stumps, call me a banana“! As if to make up for that bad call — a really silly goof up at this level — Howell waved Collingwood away to the pavillion when the batsman appeared well set for a gritty century! He was declared out LBW to a ball that was sliding way down leg side! Howell should know that righting a wrong does not cut it at this level! He, like Matt Prior the England ‘keeper, has had a forgettable match!

Bell played positively but the bells were tolling for England and he too went to a good ball from Sree Santh. The second new ball had removed Collingwood and Bell and as with the other 4 innings of this series, the rest of the batsmen — sorry, we do have to call them something! — offered no resistance at all.

One could be forgiven for starting to wonder why Matt Prior is in the England team! Certainly it can’t be for his ‘keeping! On the evidence of this series, it can’t be for his batting? His puerile yapping then?

Dravid had handled his field and his bowlers well. He bowled them in short spells and rotated them around. He did not overbowl Kumble. He even gave Laxman a bowl!

The session-by-session score card reads 7-1. This too has become somewhat futile and almost irrelevant in this Test match! The only question that needs to be asked is whether or not India press the follow-on. India are 338 ahead. Under normal circumstances I’d have said no. I’d have thought India should bat for at least a session and a half, make a really quick 160 or so and then get England to bat 5 sessions to either make the 500 runs or implode. This would ensure that the bowlers get a bit of a break and come back fresh. This would also ensure that India had the last opportunity to use the wicket.

However, two things ride against this decision. There is a threat of rain in the air. Moreover, this is the last match of the series and the bowlers’ workload may not be that much of a large issue. The pitch is also not that much of a threat. So India may need all the time that she can get on this pitch. With this in mind, imposing the follow-on may be the way to go. Either way, we have a few good sessions of cricket left in this game.

— Mohan

England Vs India: Test 2 Day 4 — England turn to jelly…

Zaheer Khan’s excellent bowling put India firmly in the drivers’ seat at the end of day-4 of the 2nd England Vs India Test. He had a terrific first session in which he got Alistar Cook out with a beauty. But his best balls of the session weren’t rewarded. He bowled some peaches to Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss that went unrewarded. He said that he had been spurred by a few pink jelly beans!

zaheer.jpg

Zaheer Khan was referring to his exchange of pleasantries with Kevin Pietersen when Zaheer was batting on day-3. This had apparently been sparked by the presence of jelly beans on the pitch. Zaheer Khan flicked the offending beans away from the pitch only to find a few more on the pitch the very next ball! He apparent used that as a spur to bowl, on day-4, what was the best spell of his career so far, thereby turning the jelly-throwers into jelly themselves!

This has been a series marred by on-field pranks and verbals. I do believe Vaughan and Dravid have a responsibility to get their players to focus on the game instead. A bit of lip is perhaps good for the game. Matt Prior seems to think so anyway. But a continuous carry-on takes the sheen away from what has been a terrific contest between bat and ball. The worst offenders have been Sree Santh and Matt Prior. In my view, they should be given a hair cut, thrown into a cold shower, clipped behind their ears and asked to focus on their games instead.

But to be brutally frank about it, it was a slice of luck that brought India back into the game. Dravid took the 2nd new ball as soon as it was due. At that point, the game appeared to be slipping away from India’s control. England had squared off the deficit and were moving ahead with alacrity. Vaughan was batting well and Collingwood was steady at the other end. After having bowled Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar for a few overs to usher in the new ball, Dravid took it as soon as it was due.

And talking of Sachin Tendulkar’s bowling, it must be that Dravid sees more in his bowling than most others. Or is it a case of the captain being in awe of his illustrious team-mates’ prowess? Who knows what the reason is, but it still was baffling to see Tendulkar fling leather for a few overs before lunch when the best man on the park had bowled a stirring spell of 6 overs in which he had taken 1 wicket for 9 runs. That apart, Dravids’ handling of his bowling resources was good. His field placings were good and he handled Sree Santh reasonably well too. He egged his players constantly. This was once more evident as soon as the new ball was taken.

Instead of getting on with the game as soon as the second new ball was taken, Dravid called for a mid-pitch huddle instead! This was certainly a first! Vaughan and Collingwood looked on in bemusement! Even the umpires looked. David Gover said with dripping sarcasm, “Hello, hello! The game will have to wait. We have a meeting going on”, or words to that effect. Dravid must have pleaded for some more intensity and focus. And that’s what he got. The Indians seemed hungry and desperate and altered the course of the match!

The first over with the new ball, bowled by Zaheer Khan, went for 14 runs and the second over, bowled by Sree Santh went for quite a few too. Dravid may have been wondering about his decision to claim the new ball. He may also have been wondering if his huddle-assemble-call had had any effect at all! However, a few overs into the new ball, Zaheer Khan thudded a fast ball into Vaughan. It clipped the bottom of Vaughan’s thigh pad and ricocheted onto the stumps.

India had prized the door open. And thanks to some smart cricket, India proceeded to smash the door open.

It was appropriate, in my view, that Zaheer Khan got Vaughan’s wicket. In the morning session, just as Sidebottom had made Tendulkar dance to his tunes on day-3, Zaheer Khan had Vaughan in all sorts of trouble. Vaughan had been extremely lucky to have survived that amazing spell of intense swing bowling from Zaheer Khan. Incidentally, Zaheer Khan is the 4th highest wicket taker in the list of left-arm-seamers. He is in illustrious company — Wasim Akram, Chaminda Vaas and Alan Davidson are the others. Zaheer Khan had bowled to Vaughan like a champ. Just as Tendulkar congratulated Sidebottom on day-3 after that left armer had completed his spell, Vaughan too seemed appreciative on more than one occasion!

Zaheer Khan was clearly the best bowler on view. He bowled with purpose and venom. While one could say that he was lucky with the Vaughan wicket and the Andrew Strauss wicket — a lazy, post-lunch waft — the deliveries that got Alistair Cook and Ian Bell was brutes. And the manner in which he set up Collingwoods’ wicket was smart.

I don’t believe Zaheer Khan was supported well. R. P. Singh was the only other India bowler who, in my view, bowled well. He is, in my view, a smart young bowler with maturity that defies his 22 years. Micheal Atherton claimed that the two left arm seamers, together, bowled the best spell of left-arm swing bowling that he had ever seen, apart from the spells bowled by the great Wasim Akram. I am quoting almost verbatim. David Gower’s response to that statement was, “High praise indeed.”

Although Kumble’s figures, at 3 wickets fro 104 runs, read reasonably well, he did have a poor day at the office. He did not pose too many threats and he did not ask too many questions.

But the worst culprit was Sree Santh. He started steadily but was mostly erratic. He nearly felled Pietersen with a terrible beamer. The fact that Pietersen got out a few balls later may have meant that Sree Santh had rattled him with the beamer. It just showed that Sree Santh wasn’t on top of his game. He once bumped into Michael Vaughan on his trudge back to his bowling mark. It may not have been a deliberate shoulder-contact. Nevertheless he has been fined for this transgression. Fair enough. He should concentrate on his game more.

Overall, Sree Santh had another ordinary day at the office. He bowled some good spells. But there was some tripe chucked in there for good measure too. On a day when Zaheer Khan was bowling probably the spell of his career so far, what one needed was a steadying support at the other end. Sree Santh definitely did not provide this support. He was erratic at worst and enigmatic at best. In amongst his beamers and over-stepped-by-2-feet no-balls, he even managed to deliver a ball from about a foot behind the bowling crease! This young lad needs to learn to channel his energies and his undoubted skills more effectively.

His reaction to being denied Collingwoods’ wicket was shocking. Collingwood had just gloved a Sree Santh ball to Dhoni behind the stumps. This was Howell’s chance to get in on the getting-it-wrong act. Sree Santh reacted by going around the wicket and bowling two deliberate no-ball bouncers. In both, his front foot had over-stepped by about 2 feet! That could be nothing other than intentional and deliberate!

Dravid immediately removed him from the attack next over and brought on Ganguly instead. Good call.

The contrast with R. P. Singh was stark. Singh had just scored a Pietersen’s snick to Dhoni and was celebrating with the slips by the time he turned back to see Simon Taufel deny him his glory. The snick was so obvious Blind Freddie would have given it out. Taufel’s nightmare series was merely continuing. Singh, meanwhile, merely trudged back to the top of his run and proceeded to bowl what I thought was the ball of the series so far. The next ball was a viscious inswinger that swung at terrific pace from about a foot outside off to catch Pietersen plumb in front.

Singh produced a similar delivery later on to dismiss Matt Prior.

Aaah! MAtt Prior! I think this goof is another one that needs to spend more time in the nets and less time practicing his sledges. He gives the impression that he takes the verbal/aggression side of his game a bit too seriously. If he took his batting as seriously as the sharpening of his mental game, he’d probably be a better player for it. When he got in, he was understandably, given the verbal make over by the Indians — and in particular from Sree Santh, his professional counterpart in the Indian team. Instead of getting on with his game, Prior reacted to the sledges. He air-kissed, winked, smiled and said something himself. It wasn’t surprising that he was out soon and sent packing.

Despite the wickets of Cook, Strauss and Pietersen, in my view, England had taken the 1st two sessions of the day and my session-by-session scorecard read 5-4 when we got to the second new ball.

Vaughan had played delectably. His balance and his poise were amazing. His front foot drives and his cover drives were poetry. His reaction to the verbals — and the shoulder-to-shoulder from Sree Santh — were lessons in how to cop it — Matt Prior should take note. The England captain was on top of his game. He had played a captains’ knock with little support from the rest of the bats. Along the way, Vaughan had also survived a first ball scare from Kumble. Kumble had started his spell with a fast-low top-spinner that thudded onto Vaughan’s pads. I am not sure why that was given not out! The nightmare on umpire street merely continued! But Vaughan put all of that behind him and built a wonderful innings.

Alistair Cook has a balance problem that has been rudely exposed by the Indian seamers. He has been found out to the inswinger thudding into his pads and on 4 times out of 4 in this series, he has been out in the same manner. A few years ago, Justin Langer had a similar exaggerated head-lean-to-the-left to compensate for the ball sliding down his leg side. Agarkar had exposed this weakness in his batting. Cook is going through a similar phase and needs to address this weakness. Strauss had lent support to Vaughan but his lazy post-lunch waft at a wide ball was a stupid lapse in concentration, especially from one who is vice-captain of the team! Pietersen came and went. Only Collingwood was able to lend support to Vaughan. The two of them had a good partnership going. England were motoring at that stage. And that’s when, with the second new ball, the game turned on its head. Vaughan was out and Ian Bell came into play.

The Indians had been pre-warned that Bell had received a viscious knock to his head in the nets. Zaheer Khan greeted Bell with a bouncer. He then bowled a beauty to trap Bell adjacent. R.P.Singh produced a peach to get rid of Prior and Collingwood was snapped up by Karthik in 1st slip. This was a smart catch take inches off the ground. Kumble wiped off the tail, India were left with 73 to make. They had won the last session decisively and should go on to win the Test match.

The session-score reads 6-4 and that is an apt reflection of India’s dominance of this match.

England Vs India: Test 2 Day 3 — England claw back…

On an intriguing day of Test cricket, England had their first good session of the ongoing Test match between England and India at Trent Bridge.

However, things did not go Englands’ way to start off. India had a solid first session on day-3 and did exactly what the doctor ordered — to see off the new ball and keep the scoreboard ticking. Ganguly looked assured and played with hunger. He was often seen egging his more illustrious partner on whenever Tendulkar played and missed to Sidebottom. The fire and hunger seemed to back in Ganguly. So also the swagger. He had even hooked Tremlett for a huge six over squre leg! And what’s more, to rub salt into the bowlers’ wounds, he made Tremlett wait at the top of his bowling mark as he turned sideways to admire the shot on the grounds’ TV screen! He was doing a Ganguly as only Ganguly can! This was a session that was India’s all the way. The forecast would have been ominous for England at lunch time. The scoreboard read 338/3. India had made 82 runs in 28 overs, had seen off the new ball and were playing Panesar with aplomb. Tendulkar was on 87 and Ganguly was on 53. Tendulkar was looking good for a century and even though Ganguly was 47 runs away from a three-figure mark, it seemed almost inevitable that he’d cross the three-figure mark too — he was playing as well as I have seen him play in a long time.

The first session of day-3 was clearly Indias’. Our session-by-session score card would have read 5-0 to India after 6 sessions of the match had been played.

At lunch time, England would have been looking for inspiration from somewhere. Maybe even an extra pair of legs! Maybe a fresh body? And that they did find. Suddenly, in the post-lunch session, it appeared as if England were playing with 12 players!

They clawed their way back into the match and even recruited an Australian to help them along in their journey. Tendulkar and Ganguly were sent packing by the Antipodean and England managed to get Dhoni out with their normal complement of players. Session 2 of day-3 had belonged to England.

Simon Taufel had a bad day at the office and unfortunately, the next time one of our Indian media pundits (or couch potato fans) adjust their spectacles, settle themselves comfortably into their chair/couch, dig the record book to say “it has been X innings since Ganguly/Tendulkar scored a century“, or “the last time Tendulkar/Ganguly scored a century was against a minnow“, the fact that the two players were robbed of certain centuries will have been forgotten. The record books merely state “SR Tendulkar lbw b Collingwood 91” and “SC Ganguly c Prior b Anderson 79“. And that is all there is to it. And that is all the scoreboard can say. You accept the good with the bad and move on. As Ganguly said phlegmatically, in his post-match, “You have to live with it“.

Just as Cook was not out, but given out in Englands’ first innings, the Indian team has to live with these two shockers from the normally good Antipodean.

And we should not really be making a big deal out of these screw-ups. We have to accept the good with the bad and move on. That’s exactly what Tendulkar did, and after a brief mind-fuse, Ganguly seemed to have accepted it too.

However, the worrying thing for Taufel would be his form. He has made some good decisions in this series so far. Of that there is no doubt. But he did send (if I am not mistaken) Dravid and Pietersen packing in the first Test. His handling of Cook, Tendulkar and Ganguly in this current Test could be the onset of a pattern. Just as players need to look at their form and their match preparedness, perhaps it is time for Taufel to stand back to take stock?

Jonathan Agnew, in his BBC blog, says that these two decisions ultimately “did not affect India’s position unduly“. Firstly, it is irrelevant whether or not it did. Secondly, I think it could well affect India’s position. Time will tell. However, I predict — perhaps foolishly — that there may well be a few more twists left in this match! More of that later.

England used their luck as a platform to claw their way into the match. Some will even say that they created their slice of luck — and that would be fair enough in my books! They stuck to their task manfully. Apart from Anderson who had suddenly started to look like the Anderson of old, all the other bowlers stuck to their task. Sidebottom and Panesar were particularly impressive. Their fielding never waned. Their players continued to chirp and chatter. One such monologue from Pietersen had perhaps crossed the line. It certainly caused Zaheer Khan to advance towards the slips cordon, threatening to introduce Pietersen’s face to the bat makers’ label. Perhaps Pietersen had asked about Zaheer Khan’s bat contract! As Andrew Miller says on Cricinfo, England need to talk less and bat more.

But then they did claw their way back into the game. Session-3 of day-3 also belonged to England, in my books. Although they did let Kumble get some runs and, in the process, develop a 50-run partnership with Laxman, they did polish off the India tail. They then batted sensibly and positively for the remaining 16 overs to end the day at 43 for no loss. England was helped by some poor bowling by Sreesanth. He seemed to be all over the place. He seemed to have lost his balance, his rhythm and his composure. He seemed horribly undercooked. Nasser Hussain, in his TV commentary, commented that Sreesanth did not bowl a single ball of pace in the morning nets! He bowled leg-spin instead! While Sreesanth appeared to be falling apart, Hussain commented, “I have no sympathy for the lad really.” Sreesanth’s final over of the day lasted nearly 7 minutes as he stuttered and spluttered his way to completion in an embarassing manner. It didn’t help either that Zaheer Khan and R. P. Singh seemed to be intent on bouncing out Strauss and Cook. But Sreesanth was the major disappointment for me. He would, I think, need an extended session in the nets with Venkatesh Prasad. If he doesn’t get his act together — and quickly — we could well see Romesh Powar as an extra spinner in the team for the 3rd and final The Oval Test match.

The match is delicately poised. My session-by-session score card reads, India 5, England 2. India is clearly in front. And they will be looking to Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan to deliver them the goods. They’d need a solid bowling performance on a somewhat unhelpful pitch. The first session of day-4 could again hold the key. India should, I believe, adopt a batten-down-the-hatches-at-one-end policy while they attack from the other.

England have another 240 to get India to bat again. If the England openers build a good foundation, like the Indian openers did, then a Pietersen cameo can help wipe off the lead. From there on, it could be anyones’ match, in my view. England have their work cut out. But India have not done enough to ensure they do not bat again. As I said earlier, I don’t think the chapter on this Test match can be written, completed and set off to the sub-editors’ desk. The pitch is still playing reasonably well. Day-3 may have been the best day for batting, but I did not see any signs that would indicate that the pitch would deteriorate dramatically on day-4. The odd ball is keeping low, which would lead me to conclude that day-5 could be extremely tricky on this pitch. Which is why I don’t agree with Jonathan Agnew. Another 60-70 runs would have meant that India cannot lose this match. Although India is clearly in the drivers’ seat, if England have an exceptional day-4, it could lead to an extremely interesting day-5 of this game. The weather forecast is for two good days.

All I can say is “bring it on”.

— Mohan

Matt Prior pits Karthik against Dhoni against Yuvraj…

Matt Prior was having a field day sledging the Indians in the recently concluded 1st Test. He continually chirped “Dhoni won’t have played that shot mate” when Karthik was batting. He clearly got to Karthik who reacted by complaining to the umpire. Karthik was subsequently calmed down by Ganguly. Prior then kept up with “Yuvraj is batting excellently in the nets mate” when Dhoni was out there in the middle. Clever.

Michael Vaughan wasn’t far behind either. He gave Sourav Ganguly a serve after Ganguly turned down an easy run on the penultimate ball of Day-4. He also gave Sree Santh the verbals for taking his time to get to the crease.

Indeed, many of the England players kept a constant chirp going against the Indians. Fair enough. I don’t particularly like it, but recognise that it is a part of the modern game. Everyone does it. It is just a question of who does it well and who to.

It also has the opposite effect on some players. Buchanan in his pre-tour notes would often ask Australian players not to sledge Dravid and Tendulkar because it toughened their resolve even more. Miandad is said to have engaged the fielding team in banter and would use that to pep himself up.

But it is all part of the modern game.

So, in a bid to assist Team India, what should the Indians be saying when they are out there?

Here are a few sledges that I could think of. Please add to this list. We can then provide a compilation for the team to use!

To Kevin Pietersen:

  • Heard you are totally fatigued mate.
  • Got over the brain fatigue you were talking of?
  • Want to take another holiday in the South of France to recover from your fatigue?
  • Still having problems with bouncers these days?
  • Are you really committed to England or would you rather be playing for South Africa?
  • But for the reservation system, you’d be playing for South Africa won’t you? Why play in such miserable weather all year round?

To Michael Vaughan:

  • You did use the term “Fredalo” in The Guardian interview did you not?
  • Flintoff was a better captain than you mate. If only he wasn’t injured, he’d be captaining the side. You know that don’t you?
  • Flintoff’s knee is getting better. He’ll be back in the side soon.
  • You are in the team only because you can bowl when bad light threatens to halt play… and even that is crap.

To Matt Prior:

  • Even Geriant Jones won’t have dropped as many catches as you did mate.
  • If you could ‘keep as well as you can talk, you’d have been in the team before Geriant Jones.
  • You need a hair cut or a real job!

Any suggestions?

— Mohan

India’s back in the game, Or are we?

A lot of people consider test cricket to be boring. Nothing really happens for overs and overs. Plus when it rains, there is nothing much either players or spectators can do. But for the connoisseur, test cricket is the real cricket. The game is fought over 5 days and fans know that something exciting can happen in just a matter of few overs that can turn the game upside down.

England went into the day with a slight edge over the Indians. England’s plans would have been to get the score well over the 400 run mark. After all, they had Pietersen, Bell and Prior – all accomplished batsmen, who had scored heavily in the recently concluded test series against the West Indies.

From India’s point of view, the dressing room talk would have centered around how they can restrict the English to less than 350.

England had started Day 1 really well and were cruising at 200 for the loss of just one wicket and even after Strauss fell, they were 250/2 at one stage, with both the captain and Pietersen in good flow. England at that stage were probably thinking of a score of around 500-550. Then the game turned on its head – two quick wickets to end the day, heavy rains the next day and some inspired bowling from India with the new ball meant that eight wickets fell for just 46 runs. England were all out for 298 and India were back in the game.

When India came out to bat, their first target would have been to see off the new ball without the loss of any wickets. That was not to be the case as Karthik and Dravid fell in the 9th and 12th over respectively. Tendulkar and Jaffer then started to build a partnership and just when things were starting to look up for India, Sachin fell for 37. India would have done well to have finished the day without the loss of any further wickets, but Jaffer got out for 58 with just 3 more overs remaining for the day. India finished the day with 145 for 4 (compare this to England’s 268/4 at the end of day 1) and have lost the ground that they gained earlier.

All is not lost yet. India now need a couple of good partnerships to take the lead. India need a lead of at least 75-100 runs to still be in the game and that is what they would be looking to do. But as I said earlier, it only takes a few overs to turn the game upside down…

-Mahesh-