It was the first delivery after lunch and was followed by a loud appeal for leg before wicket. Instinctively, one turned to the TV screen to check what Praveen Kumar had delivered to ruffle Kevin Pietersen? Returning to his mark, the bowler's gait did not match Praveen's languid style.
In a startling revelation, the player with the ball turned out to be Mahendra Singh Dhoni. In the skipper's absence behind the wickets, the wicket-keeping pads were donned by Rahul Dravid.
India's bowling was put in a state of emergency on Friday morning when Zaheer Khan was ruled out of the first innings because of the hamstring injury he suffered on the opening day.Taking the ball was a desperate move by Dhoni, in his bid to share the load with his two pacers. The visitors will be depending on Ishant and Praveen to deliver, along with some help from Harbhajan.
'Five bowlers needed'
Former West Indies pace legend, Colin Croft, felt the India team management was to blame for the predicament. Watching the action at Lord's on Friday, Croft said India had paid the price for not having the right combination.
India may have climbed the rankings using a four-bowler combination, but Croft termed it a risk for which the team would have to pay. "They should be playing five bowlers. Their wicketkeeper is a batsman, and if five batsmen cannot do the job, then six can't do it either. In the West Indies series too, they made the same mistake."
"If you play with four bowlers, like we did in the 1980s, they have to be genuine match-winners. For us, Joel Garner could bowl for ever," he said.
Garner felt sorry for Ishant Sharma, who was impressive during the West Indies series. "Ishant is good but he needs to bowl quicker here, but he can't take the risk of going all out because what'll happen if he breaks down too? India would be left with just two bowlers."
The lack of multi-dimensional cricketers makes it difficult for the current side to cope with an emergency. It's rare to have a team where majority of batsmen don't bowl at all. VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Abhinav Mukund are never seen rolling their arms over at the nets. Among the other part-timers, Sachin Tendulkar rarely bowls these days and Virender Sehwag's off-spin is also not available.
With Dhoni forced to chip in with some overs, he runs the risk of slowing down the over-rate, as every time Dravid and he take turns to don the keeper's gloves, precious time is lost The skipper is already on a warning, handed during the WI series. One more would mean automatic expulsion.