Tour games are meant to be an opportunity for the visiting team to acclimatise, but some are clever enough to use it to their advantage. The Australians and the West Indians used to thrive in it. Their domestic sides would rattle the visitors so much in the tour openers that the hosts would gain a big psychological edge going into the series.
England have not been known to use it as a ploy, but the current team is as professional as they come. They are among the ones who believe in seizing every little opportunity that is on offer. And on offer in this series is the No 1 crown. Andrew Strauss, a Middlesex player, played the tour opener on special request. It was not only about getting his form back, he also wanted to ensure India got as tough a start as Somerset could lay out.
Half-way into the game, things have surely gone according to the England skipper's plans. The Somerset batsmen Arul Suppiah, Nick Compton and Chris Jones executed it to perfection by making the Indian bowlers struggle with innings of 156, 88 and 51 not out after Strauss got his half-century.
"Strauss was wearing his England shirt while playing. From his point of view, he wanted us to play very hard, very competitively; getting out Tendulkar for not many runs is helping the England cause, keeping Zaheer Khan out there for 90 overs and making his legs a bit more tired is helping the England cause. He mentioned to us that the series starts now and the preparation starts now. From an England point of view they will be trying to get every bit of psychological advantage they can," Compton, grandson of the legendary Denis Compton, told the HT.
"He did have a little chat with us and said if it is a run out, a wicket or getting their experienced players out; just putting the seed of doubt, then it's helping the England cause. He was very happy with the day's play and he said we did a very professional job," said Compton, as Somerset declared at 425 for three.
"It's a tough time to come here. I feel England are going to win the series 1-0."