England vs India 1st Test Day 2: KP Hammers Double Century, India in agony
Yet another instance of an out-of-form batsman finding his form against a weak Indian bowling attack was on display today at the Lord’s. It was 3 years since Kevin Pietersen made a test century at a home ground and it took him only 2 days to reach double century against a depleted Indian bowling attack sans Zaheer Khan. The England innings saw some unusual action as well when Dhoni came into bowl and veteran Dravid was asked to keep wickets , Suresh Raina also picked a wicket against the run of play but the limelight truly belonged to Kevin Pietersen .
Often KP has struggled against left arm spinners. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka exploited this weakness via Shakib al Hasan and Rangana Herath, but today he had little trouble dominating the Indians. He was particularly unforgiving to Harbhajan Singh who went for plenty today. Seems like Bhajji was in race to complete his double century of runs conceded but alas KP won !!!
The pressure on KP was somewhat lifted by the poor Indian fielding. The fielders lacked aggression and often allowed Pietersen and Prior to steal easy singles and the end result being a solid and perhaps a match changing partnership. KP started this morning cautiously and you could almost sense that he was waiting for his hundred to come. This was a innings that saw him play with lot of patience, for much of the time even his strike rate was below 50 (that is rare) and till 190 he had not even hit a six. He ended his innings with 21 fours and a single six which came off Raina’s bowling. But Pietersen has once again proved that he is the man for all seasons as he displayed his love for the Lord’s pitch once again.
It was Pietersen’s 18 th test hundred and 4th against India. However equally important was the contribution of Matt Prior who raced away to 71 before getting dismissed by the most outstanding bowler of the day, Praveen Kumar. Prior easily negotiated the spin of Harbhajan and the mediocre medium pace bowling of Ishant Sharma, thus providing solid support to KP at the other end. Before he came to the crease the run-rate was languishing at about 2.5 runs per over. He quickly upped the ante and counter attacked beautifully thereby rescuing England from a tricky situation. Throughout the KP-Prior partnership, Prior turned out to be the more dominating player having scored more runs despite playing less number of deliveries.
Indian bowling attack is too dependant on its rhythm bowlers. Ishant and Harbhajan are a treat to watch when in full flow but both went for plenty today. Both of them are rhythm bowlers and once they get a wicket, they go in full flow but luck eluded them today and they thus got hammered, thus making for a bad day out for India. However the biggest problem for India was the absence of pace spearhead Zaheer Khan who has pulled his hamstring will most likely not return to action in the match.
The most outstanding performer of the day for India was Praveen Kumar as the youngster picked up 5 wickets and bowled superbly. He kept asking questions of the English batsmen with both his inswingers and outswingers. Praveen gave his all, bowled like a horse (over after over with equal precision) and carried the responsibility of spearheading the Indian attack beautifully. At the end of the day, he will see his name being etched in Lord’s honour board, mind you this feat has not even being achieved by Sachin who is yet to score a century at the famed ground. PK’s form was the only positive that India gained from a day to forget as even Praveen could not prevent KP from racing way to his double century. It took KP only 25 balls to get from 150-200 but the brave declaration from Strauss has set stage for an exciting test.
England 474/8 declared, India 17/0 at stumps