After a huge build-up in the press, the most awaited bilateral series of the year has begun. A top of the table clash commenced today with the First test of the four match series at Lords in London. The day began with overcast conditions and a slight drizzle that delayed the start of play. Amidst all the clouds, Dhoni won the toss and elected to bowl first in helpful conditions for the seamers.
India had chosen a team preferring Raina over Yuvraj and Praveen Kumar taking the third seamer’s slot. England chose to go with Broad over Bresnan to lend some steel to their lower order. The day started with Indians bowling a tight line that did not allow the English batsmen to get off to a good start. However the worrying aspect of the game was that the English openers seemed to be surviving comfortably without any major concerns. Ishant missed a run-out chance as Cook and Strauss got in a mix-up. However the missed chance was not going to cost India that heavily as Zaheer removed Cook early in the 11th over with the score at 19. Jonathan Trott joined his captain at the crease and the pair tried to ensure that they suffered no more losses till Lunch. The plan was working out just fine before Harbhajan got Trott to nick a ball that went agonisingly wide of Dravid. Lunch was taken with England at 43/1 and thankful that it wasn’t worse.
The second session started with runs flowing freely as the English batsmen started to grow in confidence. However Zaheer came back with a telling second spell- his figures read 4-4-0-1 at the end of the second spell. He proved to be Strauss’ nemesis again by getting him to pull from outside off stump that was pouched safely by Ishant. He again produced an edge from Trott only to see the chance go begging. Pietersen and Trott safely negotiated the remaining part of the day without any major issues.
At the end of a shortened day’s play, the advantage lies surely with England. They have managed to negotiate the tricky conditions quite well and are comfortably placed at 127/2. They have two set batsmen at the crease and to make matters worse for India, Zaheer left the ground clutching what looked to be his hamstring. Losing their strike bowler on the first day of the test match with less than 50 overs bowled could prove fatal for Dhoni’s band of boys. It brings the question of players being brought back for series’ without attaining match fitness. However the nation shall hope that it does not prove to be more than a niggle and Zaheer takes the field tomorrow. India’s bowling has looked average with Ishant bowling at completely the wrong length and Praveen finding it very tough to stay out of the danger zone and was cautioned for running onto the wicket again. The match may be just tilting towards England currently but India will know they are skirting the line that separates them from annihilation in this first test. And they are mightily close to it.