Day 1: India 316 for four at stumps
India make a promising start, but Sourav gets yet another bad umpiring decision, reports Rohit Mahajan.
On Thursday evening, Sourav Ganguly was shirtless in London again, but there was no joy for him.
Ganguly sat alone in the dressing room, bare from waist up but his pads still on, chewing his nails and wondering what might have been.
Moments ago, in a dark moment for umpires but a bright one for those who want to nudge them out with the aid of technology, Ian Howell had failed to detect a massive edge from Ganguly's bat to his pad and raised his finger.
As Paul Collingwood hollered an almighty appeal, Ganguly kept his bat aloft, uttered an 'Oh' as Howell gave him out. Instantly, the fiery former captain smiled — a wry, sardonic smile, and walked off — shaking his head.
Ganguly was done in yet again, after his Trent Bridge misfortune, and India were in a spot of bother. Ganguly's fighting 77-run stand with Sachin Tendulkar was cut down, India were four down, the new ball due in the next over.
On a day of sun and shade, of blasting bats and bouncing ball, the second half was as different from the first as day is from night.
After three hours of play, 45 overs into the game, at 185/1, India were on top. The sun was out, the ball was not swinging, the pitch offered no hope to the bowlers, who made matters worse for themselves with their indiscipline.
Then, in a matter of moments, the game changed.
Clouds covered the sun, Michael Vaughan took Monty Panesar off the attack and James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom bowled their best spells of the day.
In the 49th over, the ball of the day got Rahul Dravid — a full one from Anderson suddenly swerved a foot before it reached the Indian captain, who shaped to play across the line. He missed, the ball did not, and England were celebrating.
Three overs later, Dinesh Karthik fell — trying to drive an away-going ball from Sidebottom, he was deemed to have edged it to the wicketkeeper Matt Prior. Though the snickometer suggested that Karthik was disappointed with the decision, the opener later admitted to have nicked the ball.
Tendulkar, on two, was joined by Ganguly, and the two proceeded to fight it out. Ganguly was the more fluent, Tendulkar the more valiant. Tendulkar took at least six blows on the body in his dogged effort to keep the bat away from the rising ball.
The two seemed to have weathered the storm, Tendulkar had got a reprieve when the terribly inept — and quiet — Prior dropped him off Sidebottom, and India were again on top.
Then came that Howell howler.
In the first session, on a featherbed of a pitch, the hosts did not do themselves any favours by bowling wide outside off stump, wider outside leg — they bowled too short and they bowled too full; they bowled themselves towards disaster in a game they must win to draw the series.
The Indians, thus, ruled. After Wasim Jaffer put the Englishmen under the cosh with a quick 35 before throwing it away, the real trouble began for England.
Karthik and Dravid raced to half-centuries, putting a 100 off just 144 balls. Dravid was the more aggressive.
Karthik, though, was second to none. After a slow start, Karthik began to open up, driving the Englishmen towards calamity.
Sidebottom began well with two maidens before losing the plot. Once the first runs came, off the 21st ball of the innings, the floodgates opened and England panicked.
There was neither swing nor pace and thus the bounce did not trouble India. Chris Tremlett was a factor only on a handful of deliveries, mostly going over the stumps. That forced him to bowl fuller, which was only playing right into the Indians’ hands.
The day ended worse than it started, but Tendulkar is still there and VVS Laxman is looking good. On their last tour Test tour here, the golden generation of Indian batting can hope for a triumphant farewell.