India v England: Lessons from a disappointing day for the tourists
India v England: What lessons did we learn as the hosts took control of the first Test after day two in in Ahmedabad?
With two days gone in this Test match, England are in a precarious position. Resuming on 323-4, an unbeaten double hundred from Cheteshwar Pujara enabled India to declare on 521-8, and before the close of play England had been reduced to 41-3. It was tough going for the touring side, and the fact that only a solitary wicket fell to the quick bowlers is further evidence that the selection of Monty Panesar could have been a worthwhile decision. Night watchman James Anderson was unable to navigate the final few overs, and this exposed Jonathan Trott, who fell for a duck. The game is going to India’s time honoured plan of batting first, posting a big score and putting the opposition under pressure, and in alien conditions it will take a special innings from at least one England batsmen to change the course of this match.
Big innings needed from KP
Much has been made of Kevin Pietersen’s successful ‘reintegration’ into the side, and the time has come for him to repay the faith shown by the coaching staff with what could be a match-saving innings. The loss of Trott is a huge blow for England, as he is more than capable of sticking around for a considerable amount of time. Alastair Cook has shown similar staying power in the past, and if he can rediscover the patience that saw him accumulate big runs in the last Ashes series, he will give his team a fighting chance. The onus is now on Pietersen and Cook to bat long into the third day, and the new captain will need to lead from the front. This is the kind of stage upon which Pietersen can thrive, although left-armer Yuvraj Singh has proven very adept at exposing his frailties to this type of bowling.
Time of the essence
Pietersen will need to reign in his natural game, at least to start with, as England will now be aiming to bat time. The first objective will be to avoid the follow-on, and if they manage to achieve this they may be able to exert a little pressure of their own on India. Batting last on this pitch will not be easy, and the longer their first innings goes on the less time they will be required to bat out on the final day, assuming of course that they have not maneuvered themselves into a winning position. With Anderson having moved up the order, England’s batting goes right down to Swann at 11, and contributions of 20 or 30 from the lower order could prove invaluable in the context of the match.