Mahendra Singh Dhoni pulled a rabbit out of his hat by tactfully remarking that he wants the ball to spin from the very first ball. England already suffering from the defeat in Ahmedabad was significantly affected. Their batting coach — famous captain — Graham Gooch highlighted this at a gathering the night before. He said captain Alastair Cook asked him how to tackle spin bowling.
Gooch’s answer was quite humorous: “From the other side as a non-striker.” So tactically, England was already dreaming of a crumbling track even before the first ball was bowled.
The toss will not give India the advantage like in Ahmedabad, but chasing or surviving on a drying wicket on the fourth and fifth day could be a problem.
The morning session turned out to be a nightmare for India. Gautam Gambhir was trapped leg before wicket by James Anderson while Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh perished to Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.
The fast bowlers made a critical error by bowling short due to the extra bounce. They needed to bowl further up to get whatsoever movement possible. This they failed in the morning as well as later with the second new ball.
The wonderful century of Pujara, who played like a seasoned professional and the brilliant batting of R Ashwin has put India on a comfortable platform.
The same wicket was used for the Mumbai vs Railways game earlier in the month and this could be a reason for the several bald spots in the good length area, which did not trouble Ashwin because of his extra reach. Taller English players like Kevin Pietersen could take advantage of it as well.
England clearly missed a beat. Stuart Broad looked well below his best and a surfeit of half volleys to Ashwin diffused any pressure for the batsmen when they had lost Dhoni to great catch by Swann at gully.
The England fielding has looked very ordinary .They seem to be confused as to where they should stand as regards the distance and field position. India can be quite confusing as each wicket has got different bounce and grounds with different slopes and wearing outfields.
Cook’s captaincy disintegrated in the last session. His spin bowlers were not being able to adjust to the footwork of Ashwin and Pujara. Anderson and Broad are looking like two disheartened bowlers. Their plan of bowling around the off side corridor gradually changed to spraying in all directions.
Cook will have to rely on Panesar and Swann today. All the good work that he accomplished in the first few sessions as a captain unfolded to Advantage India at the end of Day One.
>> Former India player Yajurvindra Singh figured in the 1976-77 and 1979 Test series against England