England vs. India Day 2 at Lords 1st Test Preview
England came out as the better team on Day 1 at Lords after bad light and rain allowed just under 50 overs of play. Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen occupied the crease with comfort after Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss were dismissed by Zaheer Khan. India’s only delight of the day would have been Zaheer’s tremendous spell but even that was dampened by the surfacing of a slight niggle. Zaheer is coming off a rehabilitation program and was not doing his full length of run-up but bowled with intensity and guile.
The conditions on Day 1 assisted the bowlers initially and the slope at Lords is always to the advantage of the quick-ball bowlers. However, there was slowness in the pitch that allowed the batsman to hang on the back-foot and avoid any discomfort arising from the short of length deliveries. Ishant Sharma was thus ineffective for the most part. He did trouble Kevin Pietersen with a couple of effort balls that swung into his pads but was not consistent enough.
The biggest disappointment of the day for India was Praveen Kumar. Kumar is a street smart cricketer who relies heavily on swing and with ample assistance he did make the ball talk. He was unfortunate in not getting a wicket. The English county has a plethora of similar bowlers that bowl at an optimum speed for swing and thus his lack of pace did keep him at bay. His ability to deliver the outswinger and the inswinger without any visible change in action was a delight to watch. India would be hoping that his skill convert into wickets on Day 2.
England’s misfortune lies in the fact that the part of the day when they could have added significantly to their tally in the absence of Zaheer Khan was washed out. They will have to start from scratch today and deal with the morning session patiently. The Indian bowlers would be fresh and two early wickets might bring the game back to equilibrium.
Jonathan Trott completed his half-century on Day 1 and looked in excellent form. He had his share of luck when the ball just fell short of Rahul Dravid on first slip when Harbhajan came to bowl in the 19th over of the day. He did well to capitalize upon the error and is potentially India’s most threatening nemesis in this innings. Kevin Pietersen gradually played into his innings but he was vulnerable to the odd ball throughout. India should target him in the morning session with their best available bowlers. The status and extent of Zaheer’s injury would have an immediate and long range impact on the series.