The dreaded India opening pair is back, but the Northamptonshire bowlers ensured that Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir will go into the third Test at Edgbaston low on confidence.
The most successful Indian opening combination teamed up for the first time in the series on Friday, but was not allowed enough time in the middle.
Looking for a long innings, Sehwag lasted just 25 balls. Gambhir, also in need of a confidence-boosting knock, didn't fare any better and was dismissed after 55 balls.
The updates would have pleased the England team management as their interest in this game was mainly restricted to the Sehwag-factor. "We haven't had any contact with the England guys, but they would have been pleased with the fact that both the guys didn't get to spend much time in the middle. From our point of view, we wanted to get a couple of wickets and get a good days' play," said Northamptonshire captain, Andrew Hall, who chose to give his fringe players a chance against the tourists.
Hall, a former South Africa opener, felt it was not the ideal preparation for the duo going into the Test, but added the two had too much class to be written off. "Some batters feel uncomfortable (not to have a good game ahead of an important fixture). However, knowing their class, finding some form in the nets could be more than sufficient going into the match," he said.
Hall had experienced the brutality of Sehwag's blade during South Africa's 2004 tour of India. "When he's in form, he's the most dangerous batter around. When I got 163 at Kanpur, he got 164 in half the time. He is very attacking," said Hall. Sehwag and Gambhir's struggle on Friday was also due to the testing conditions. "When we looked at the wicket, it had some grass on it. We knew the ball would do a bit so we were happy to have a bowl first. It's difficult for the batsmen when the ball does a bit and both like to have the ball coming on," said Hall.
"Sehwag and Gambhir were leaving the ball well, and were getting into good positions. But, it's one of those things about opening here, that you can get a very good ball anytime. If they get through the first hour in the Test, both can score big runs."