Mumbai Test, day two: England 178-2

The second day of the Mumbai Test was England’s day and it is one of the more important single days of cricket they have won all year. After they let a good position get away yesterday they fought through a frustrating morning to bowl India out for 327 and then proceeded to bat very well and sensibly on a pitch that was clearly still tricky to set themselves up very nicely for tomorrow.

England’s hero with the ball today was Graeme Swann. He took three wickets in the morning and although two of them were tail-enders he also got the important wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara. Pujara had by then batted unbeaten for over a thousand minutes in the series before Swann beat him in the flight and Prior completed the stumping. Monty Panesar did complete five wicket haul by trapping Ravichandran Ashwin as well and finished with 5-129. It was an excellent effort from him on his return to the side. It was a decent morning overall, but it did take a lot longer to finish off India than England would have liked and 327 was considerably more than England would have liked to concede, especially after having India 119-6 yesterday.

The important question was always going to be how England batted though. The pitch did not look as spicy as it had on the first day, but that was no guarantee that England would not fall to pieces of course. But England mostly batted very well today. Alastair Cook simply looks unstoppable at the moment and not only was he generally calm and assured, but he also took the attack to the Indians a bit. He hit a lofted six over long on (the eighth six of his Test career) against one of the spinners and was executing the sweep shot very well. Nick Compton also batted well alongside him, but occasionally got a bit stuck and finally nicked a good delivery to slip. There wasn’t much he could do about it, but that was not the case for Jonathan Trott. He stayed back to a full-length delivery and was trapped utterly plumb in front of middle stump for a duck.

The main attention will probably be given to Kevin Pietersen though. He played one of the best innings I have seen from him after coming in at a tricky time a few minutes before tea with the score 68-2. Unlike in the last Test and unlike what we have seen so many times from Pietersen he did not go after every ball and try to impose himself on the bowlers. Instead he played positively and brought his solid strokeplay to bear whilst not taking insane risks. It was essentially exactly how one would want an attacking batsman to play; he kept the run rate up, but never looked in danger of throwing his wicket away.

There were some very nervy moments for all the batsmen and it is still a spicy pitch. Cook and Pietersen navigated it pretty well, though each had some luck with balls rearing up and one lbw appeal turned down that would have been overturned had DRS been in play. So far on the first two days the morning has been the best time to bowl with seven of the twelve wickets falling before lunch, so with England still behind by 149 it is important that Cook and Pietersen get themselves back in tomorrow and bat for most of the session. With an uncertain five and six in next one could very easily envision England losing four wickets in the morning session tomorrow and falling behind in the match again. It will also be an important session for Cook who needs just 13 more runs to go level with Boycott, Hammond and Cowdrey for the most Test tons by an Englishman.

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