Bhuvneshwar Kumar (L) signals for a drinks break with batting partner Mohammed Shami during day two of the first Test against England at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, England. (AP Photo)
Ominously, it was almost a repeat of the script for England. India had started and finished Wednesday strongly to take the upper hand in the first Test. On Thursday, the second day played out like the first.
On Day One, it was Murali Vijay and MS Dhoni who had steadied the ship, left wobbling at the start of the second session. Thursday afternoon saw India make a similar recovery. But, it is the men who led the fightback which will hurt Alastair Cook and his team’s morale.
Any captain’s nightmare is the rival No 10 and 11 getting runs. Cook experienced it at Trent Bridge on the second afternoon when he looked clueless while trying to stop India’s last-wicket pair of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami.
With India at 346 for nine, Bhuvneshwar and Shami frustrated the hosts for 38.1 overs and added 111 runs. As a result, England are staring at a total of 457. They are 414 behind after finishing the day at 43 for one.
India’s total was built on the foundation laid by Vijay, who ensured his team won the crucial opening session. He was unlucky to be given leg before on 146 off James Anderson, the ball hitting a bit high.
Then, there was a fighting innings by skipper Dhoni (82, 7 fours), but it was the last-wicket partnership which hurt England the most.
Cook’s misery was complete when he was bowled round his legs off an innocuous-looking delivery from Shami. The onus is now on the rest of the England batsmen to save their skipper the blushes. The task is not difficult though. The track is placid and there is prediction of rain later on during the game.
Cook is under tremendous pressure after the lows against Australia and Sri Lanka. Here too, he didn’t do anything to impress his critics. Bhuvneshwar and Shami hardly looked in trouble as England ran out of ideas.
Cook tried a lot of different things, but nothing worked. Another of Cook’s worry would be the ineffectiveness of his lone spinner, Moeen Ali.
To add to it, the home team had some costly lapses in the field. The biggest being when Matt Prior dropped Dhoni in the third over of the day.
For India coach Duncan Fletcher, the task will be to keep his batsmen focussed during the break.
For the second straight day, the batsmen suffered lapse in concentration after returning from the lunch break. In the post-lunch session, India lost four wickets for two runs in 21 balls.
Live Commentary of the Indian innings: