Calcutta, day one: India 273-7

The nadir of the day for England was probably a little over half an hour after the start of play. An hour before that Alastair Cook had once again failed to accurately predict how the coin would land and MS Dhoni unsurprisingly opted to bat. It quickly became apparent that all the talk of a sporting wicket with ‘pace and bounce’ was either mistaken or deliberately deceptive. The wicket was actually very like the one in Ahmedabad with nothing in it for the bowlers and even though the early morning conditions did result in some swing it was so slow and generally so late it had little effect. It was clearly a great toss to win and India were settling in with Virender Sehwag scoring quickly.

After that, however, it was England’s day. India gifted England the first wicket with a comedy run out; an absolutely terrible bit of miscommunication resulted in Gautam Gambhir not bothering to run for an easy third whilst Sehwag tried desperately to get back in his ground from halfway down the wicket. He failed and England had a vital wicket. From there England bowled very well for the rest of the day. There was still almost nothing in the pitch for them, but for the most part they maintained a very disciplined line and length and almost always contrived to be threatening. It is that last part which was important; it wasn’t just defensive bowling from England. Steven Finn was getting just a bit of extra bounce from his height and Gambhir in particular was having trouble with it. Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann got enough turn to make the batsmen think twice before doing anything too rash. The combined result was that the Indian batsmen got not only tied down, but actually under pressure and made errors.

But the pick of the bowlers was James Anderson. He was simply superb all day keeping the ball in the corridor or uncertainty and just getting it to move a bit and was the only bowler to actually take his wickets directly. Twice he managed to take the outside edge of a bat with a ball just close enough to the stumps to draw the shot and moving fractionally away. Just before stumps he then bowled a similar ball to Ravichandran Ashwin which nipped in and hit middle and off. He should have had a fourth wicket as well when he trapped Yuvraj Singh in front but it was given not out. Had there been DRS the decision would have been reversed. It was the kind of bowling we saw from Anderson in the last two winters when he defied unhelpful pitches and this time he actually got some of the reward he deserved. He will come out with a new ball tomorrow morning with a chance for a deserved five wicket haul.

The other wickets to fall were gifted to various extents, although as mentioned they were at least to an extent also the result of the threatening balls that were being bowled so consistently. Swann’s one wicket came when Singh played one of the laziest drives one will ever see to an innocuous delivery and managed to pick out extra cover. Panesar was the beneficiary of Cheteshwar Pujara playing all around a straight one and Gambhir trying to cut a ball that wasn’t quite there and that bounced a little bit more. In the case of Panesar, the deliveries had some merit to them and the wicket of Gambhir was borderline between bowler success and batsman error.

The day definitely belonged to England; the pitch has 450+ written on it and India aren’t going to get near that unless their tail bat extremely well. But England still have to finish the innings off tomorrow and then have to get up to a good score themselves. They have made an excellent start, but despite the fact that the chasing team has won the first two Tests they will still want to make sure they get a decent first innings lead to minimise the target. India’s 273-7 is well below par, but England are still a long way off a commanding lead even if they get the last three wickets quickly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s