India win toss, England to bat
Expectation hung in the air at Trent Bridge this morning, with overcast skies above Nottingham only adding to the tension as MS Dhoni won the toss and got in the first blow of the second Test by inserting England.
Both sides were forced into making changes, following England’s emphatic win at Lord’s, with Tim Bresnan replacing the injured Chris Tremlett and India bringing in Yuvraj Singh and fast bowler Sreesanth for their injured pair, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan.
Tremlett suffered a back spasm yesterday, to go with the sore hamstring he felt during the Lord’s victory, but England captain Andrew Strauss said the change did not weaken England’s attack. “Tim is a proven performer and this is a great opportunity for him,” he said of the Yorkshire seamer who did so well when he came into England’s Ashes-winning team last winter.
Strauss admitted that England would have bowled, had he won the toss, but added: “I don’t think there will be any massive demons in the pitch”. BBC cricket correspondent and thecricketer.com columnist Jonathan Agnew, however, believes that a surface with “some tufty grass” will give the team bowling first a distinct advantage – especially with the cloud cover also likely to promote swing.
Dhoni revealed that Rahul Dravid is to open India’s batting in this Test, in the absence of Gambhir, with Yuvraj slipping into the middle order and VVS Laxman being promoted to No 3. Zaheer’s expected failure to recover in time from the hamstring injury he sustained early on at Lord’s gives Sreesanth his chance.
Four years ago India’s seven-wicket victory at Trent Bridge was one of the finest away wins in their history, in a match labelled ‘Jellybeangate’ following a puerile episode on the third evening when Zaheer Khan walked in to bat and found a couple of jelly beans in the crease.
Incensed at what he considered a serious breach of manners, Zaheer initially brandished his bat at Kevin Pietersen, who protested his innocence and – as Wisden later reported – “suspicion fell on Bell, who was fielding closer to the bat”. Michael Vaughan, then England’s captain, apologised for any offence caused, but for England the damage had been done.
Zaheer, indeed, was so clearly fired up by the childish prank that went wrong that, in England’s second innings, he dismissed five of the top six to add figures of five for 75 to his first innings haul of four for 59. England, bowled out for 198 and 355, were condemned to the defeat which cost them the three-match series, 1-0.
No that India were themselves blameless in the spicy stakes. Fast bowler Sreesanth bowled a beamer at Pietersen’s head in England’s second innings, and later ran through the crease by a couple of feet to send down a bouncer at Paul Collingwood. He was given a dressing-down by India’s captain, Rahul Dravid, and the ICC match referee Ranjan Madugalle fined him 50 per cent of his match fee for also shoulder-barging Vaughan.
With all that has gone before between these two teams, then – and half the number of players who were involved in 2007 are here again – plus England’s great win at Lord’s, it is safe to assume that the next five days could be quite tasty.