Thursday, March 09, 2006

India vs. England: T2D1

Highlights from Day One:

  • The Pitch - all that fanfare, multiple pitches prepared, and we end up with what looked like a two-in-one with a bit of grass at one end, and cracks at the other end. Only it played as a good batting track, no more and no less. Quite amusing, although not surprising, that England would swap out a spinner for a seamer, resulting in a 4+1 attack, whilst India bring in the extra spinner for a 2+3 balance.
  • Stump Microphones - I am loving the fact that they have these turned up so loud, even if Dhoni had a few issues with the installation work. Great to hear everything that goes on in the middle, including the umpires' private conversations ont heir walkie-talkies.
  • Kevin Pietersen - can a batsman really have such luck? How often is it in cricket that a batsman is dead-set lbw, and the bowler barely appeals? Irfan Pathan will be kicking himself when he sees the replay. You do have to hand it to KP though - the skunk hairstyle may be gone, but the arrogance in his battig remains, and he uses it to tremendous effect.
  • Irfan Pathan - After slamming him for the fact that he has only performed with the ball in 4 Tests in his career, I have to give credit where it is due. He bowled well on a pitch giving him nothing, and whilst the Strauss dismissal was down to a poorly executed cut, he got AListair Cook with one that went late the other way, just as he had in Nagpur. Good stuff, even at 77mph.
  • Munaf Patel - After his first spell, I was starting to wonder if this wasn't another case of all hype and no substance. He hasn't proven me wrong yet, but he did show in his later bursts that he can bowl between 85 and 90mph, which is no mean feat for an Indian paceman at the top level. Furthermore, like all good bowlers these days, he can't swing the ball an inch, but he can make it reverse at will. There's something I'm going to have to write about one day.
  • Piyush Chawla - hard to say much after a handful of overs. The two googlies I saw were both well disguised - a skill that he is reputed for. He gets plus points for the fact that he didn't back down when KP had a go at him, something all young spinners would do well to take stock of. Rahul Dravid also handled him superbly - bringing him on for a key over just before lunch, and not being scared to give him a spell even when KP slog-swept him to the boundary a couple of times.
  • Ian Bell - what an interesting Test career this lad is having. Debuted with a 50 against the West Indies, and then an unbeaten 50 and 100 against Bangladesh. Set himself in the side and then failed miserably in the Ashes barring two knocks at Manchester. Injury got him into the side in Pakistan at the last minute, and he responded with two 50s and a century to re-establish himself, and now is looking about as comfortable with the spinners as I would be facing Brett Lee with my eyes closed (and believe me, if I were facing him, my eyes would likely be shut - Norman Cowans was the fastest I ever came up against). What's astonishing is that a batsman who for 6 or 7 years has been known for his mental fortitude, appears to be losing the plot every time he realises exactly where he is.

Of course, it's all completely academic. The forecast shows 100% chance of rain on Day 2 and 3, which means it's going to be off to Mumbai next week with everything to play for.

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