Kumar takes two in four balls but KP survives Dhoni scare
Tea: First Test, day two, Lord’s
Match score: England 305-5 (Pietersen 115*, Prior 21*, Trott 70; Kumar 3-85) Full scorecard
Session score: England 88-2 Draw
It was like a village match, not the sort of thing you’d expect from the world’s No.1 Test side. “I fancy a bowl – do you fancy keeping wicket Fred?” Cue lots of faffing around as pads and gloves are exchanged.
With Zaheer Khan absent with a hamstring injury, we were alerted to the possibility that Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian captain, might turn his arm over today by his warming-up in the nets this morning while Rahul Dravid tried on the gloves for size.
And sure enough after lunch India emerged with a new wicketkeeper and their captain, who had three Test overs to his name, ready to bowl his very occasional medium pace – to Kevin Pietersen.
I can’t ever recall seeing a keeper bowl in a Test as a tactical measure, rather than just at the end of a dead draw. It was genius captaincy, a sensational piece of theatre and it so nearly came off. He had a huge lbw appeal against Pietersen, on 71, from his first ball.
Think Damien Martyn or Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting getting Michael Vaughan at Trent Bridge in 2005. In his second over Dhoni thought he’d got Pietersen, caught behind. Pietersen referred the decision though and HotSpot showed that he hadn’t it. Any noise that Billy Bowden might have heard came from bat hitting pad.
This was another life for Pietersen, having earlier got the benefit of slender doubt when Dravid seemed to take a good low catch at leg slip.
He had to make the most of his good fortune and he did, reaching his 18th Test hundred with a scorching on-drive off Ishant Sharma.
In his last innings as captain, his last innings against India at Mohali in late 2008, he made 144. He also made 134 here against India in 2007.
The second new ball, though, changed the tone of the session. Praveen Kumar, bowling off nine modest paces, swung the ball extravagantly again but unlike yesterday he bowled a fuller length and was more threatening.
Ian Bell, who had carved his first ball after lunch off Dhoni for four, feathered one to Dhoni, now back behind the stumps, and three balls later Eoin Morgan apparently inside-edged an inswinger to Dhoni. Replays indicated he hadn’t hit the ball and should have reviewed it. England later made an announcement that Morgan thought he had hit it and walked, which sounded like self-justification for a cock-up rather than an honest display of sportsmanship.
Having been put in, England would surely be delighted with their current position but in conditions that remain testing. Jimmy Anderson and Chris Tremlett look on with interest.
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John