He has achieved a lot in his career to already be treated as a very special player, but if at any point in his career he had really felt pressure, it was at lunch at Edgbaston. Everyone was waiting for MS Dhoni’s response in this innings.
It couldn’t have gone any more wrong for the Indian captain in this series. He has lost both the Tests by big margins, lost key players to injuries and his own form was under fire. And in the do-or-die battle, his batting line-up had crumbled to 100 for six. Then to come out and play a blazing innings like he did on Wednesday, means irrespective of the result and analysis of his captaincy, he has salvaged his reputation as the man who doesn’t buckle under pressure. He entered the ground with his reputation at stake and left it to a standing ovation.Strangely subdued on this tour, Dhoni responded to the massive challenge by being positive and played a counter-attacking knock of 77 to get his team to a fighting first innings total. England were 124 for eight at Trent Bridge, India were 111 for seven here. England went on to get 221 and win the game, India has got 224. It remains to be seen whether Dhoni's daredevilry can lift India.
The signs were not good though. Except for Praveen Kumar's stoic batting while performing the supporting role in the 84-run eighth-wicket partnership, none of the Indian batsmen rose to the challenge of defending their No 1 ranking.
At the end of the day, England were in the drivers seat in a game, which, if they win will give them the top ranking in Test cricket. Openers, skipper Andrew Strauss (batting 52) and Alastair Cook (batting 27), have laid the platform with an unfinished 84-run partnership.
Put into bat, the visitors were in dire straits by lunch, losing their top order for just 75 runs. Making the most of the overcast conditions, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad and James Anderson ripped through the heart of the Indian line-up.
For the first time, India were at full strength in batting and their successful opening combination of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Sehwag was not only expected to see off the new ball, but to prove the catalyst to lift the team.
But India were immediately pushed on the backfoot when Broad produced a beauty to get rid of the Delhi dasher the first ball he faced. The batsman could do nothing as the ball nipped back and kissed his gloves for Matt Prior to take the catch.
Gambhir looked in good rhythm and was shaping up beautifully. However his innings came to a disappointing end on 38 when he was bowled off an inside edge off Bresnan.
Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid fell in quick succession to make it a dream session for the hosts. Soon after the break Suresh Raina was bowled and VVS Laxman played a hook shot straight to the deep fine leg.