Nottingham: As Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami flogged the hapless England bowling into submission to record India's highest 10th wicket stand against England, Geoffrey Boycott was asked, "Is there anything England can do?"
Bhuvneshwar Kumar in full flow against England in Nottingham yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
"Yes," he replied. "They can go to a church nearby and pray." Sure, the pitch was benign and Bhuvneshwar has a first-class hundred, but the Indian tailenders batted with ease against two bowlers (James Anderson and Stuart Broad) who have a total of 600 Test wickets together.
It was outstanding batting, assisted by some bizarre field placements and persistent around-the-wicket short ball tactics. Rarely did Bhuvneshwar and Shami appear deterred. They got behind the line against short ball or defended comfortably on the front foot.
In between, every time the bowlers erred on the pads, the spirited batsmen scored easy runs into the vast open spaces down to fine leg. Only after tea they played the expansive shots — back foot drives, lofted on-drives and delightful late cuts.
As both batsmen crossed their half centuries and brought up the hundred partnership, the English heads finally fell. Perhaps, Shami and Bhuvneshwar have already made dents in the English batting, with the bat rather than the ball.
Earlier, Dhoni's fine innings of 82 was based on his calculative mind. Before the England series, the Indian captain made his intentions clear that he wanted to be more aggressive with the bat outside the sub-continent. Two days into the Test series, Dhoni, the natural bludgeoner once again overpowered his natural instincts and played an arithmetician innings.
One of the reasons why Dhoni is arguably the greatest batsman in ODI cricket is his ability to breakdown complex equations into smaller targets that are achievable. Yesterday, on a track which was to his liking, Dhoni donned the ODI cap as it were and worked himself through to play a fighting innings.
When he arrived to the crease on Wednesday, the ball was 60 overs old. It was barely reversing, so it was an opportunity to capitalise. Dhoni did exactly that.
Before the introduction of the second new ball, and with England biggest threat, Broad and Anderson bowling in tandem for the next 18 overs, he scored 12 runs off 50 balls, without hitting a boundary.
Only nine runs were scored in the first nine overs of the day as he resisted temptation apart from couple of occasions. Dhoni knew the threat Anderson and Broad presented so he ensured he survived the spell.
The minute Broad and Anderson bowling partnerships was terminated, he cashed in once again. He scored 29 off the next 50 balls, moving to 82, before a rare lapse in concentration in perhaps Dhoni's greatest strength - running between wickets - led to his dismissal.