Strauss and Pietersen rally England after early losses
India’s ‘bouncebackability’ was put immediately to the test after MS Dhoni had won the toss at Trent Bridge, and the signs were good in the first hour. After that, however, it was England – through Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen – who did the bouncing back.
Much had been said and written, in the aftermath of India’s defeat in the first Test at Lord’s, about India hitting back hard here in Nottingham. And the early wickets of Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott certainly gave them the start to the second Test they desired after Dhoni had unhesitatingly chosen to bowl first.
Ishant Sharma and Sri Sreesanth made the two early breakthroughs, but then Strauss and Pietersen batted with increasing confidence and comfort as the Indian seam attack – missing the still hamstrung Zaheer Khan – struggled to follow up their initial successes on a well-grassed pitch.
A tough first hour for England was only negotiated for the losses of Cook and Trott – although Cook, the batsman previously known as ‘the prolific Cook’ but who cannot now seem to get a run in this series, was very unlucky to be given out leg-before by umpire Marais Erasmus.
If Cook had reviewed it (if the DRS system was available he surely would have done) he would have been reprieved as Hawkeye clearly showed the ball going over the top of the stumps as he pushed forward at Sharma. Indeed, Cook seemed so unconcerned by the lbw appeal that he was already scratching his mark in the crease when Erasmus, somewhat belatedly, raised his finger in judgement.
That was in the sixth over, with England’s total only seven, and the first boundary was 50 balls in the waiting before Strauss worked Kumar away off his pads to the square leg ropes. Trott cut Sharma for four but had also played and missed at a wide one when, to Sreesanth’s fourth ball, he edged to VVS Laxman at second slip.
At mid-morning drinks, which in itself seemed incongruous in such cool, overcast conditions, England were 26 for two after 13 overs of worry, but those cares began to lift as the skies lightened and even the hint of the sun’s warmth seeped through the clouds.
Pietersen twice pulled Sreesanth dismissively for four, when the bowler dropped successive deliveries short, and Strauss also off drove him to the boundary as runs at last started to flow more freely. Kumar, switching to the Pavilion End, was hit by Pietersen to mid-wicket for another four but then came the main flashpoint of the morning session.
To the next ball, Pietersen plunged forward in defence but was beaten by movement into him. Kumar’s passionate appeal for leg-before was turned down by Erasmus but the bowler was upset and seemed to tell the official so. Hawkeye showed that Erasmus was absolutely correct to give the benefit of the doubt to the batsman – the ball was probably going over the top – but several Indian fielders, including Harbhajan Singh, took it upon themselves to lead Kumar away with a consoling arm around the shoulder.
The ICC match referee, Ranjan Madugalle, might not be so understanding. David Gower, commentating on Sky Sports, said that Kumar’s actions left something to be desired.
Lunch: Second Test, day one, Trent Bridge
Match score: England 69 for 2 (Strauss 29*, Pietersen 26*) Full Scorecard
Session score: England 69-2 Draw