Ind Eng T3 Day 1 Stumps: At the moment the venue could be Edgbaston, Birmingham or anywhere else in the world. While London and parts of the UK seem to be on fire, the Indian cricket team is yet to find the fire in its belly. Only one man was able to rise in the midst of criticism and that was the Indian captain on the first day of the third Test of the India England series and it told on India at stumps on the first day.
Gautam Gambhir looked ominous. His thirty-four runs seemed worthy of so much more before Tim Bresnan, continuing on an inspired selection, sent Gambhir’s stumps out of the ground. To an extent, the half century partnership between Gambhir and Rahul Dravid undid the early fortunes that England enjoyed when Virender Sehwag was declared caught behind off the first ball he faced after England appealed through the UDRS ( Umpire Decision Review System).
Virender Sehwag had become the messiah for the Indian cricket 2-0 down in the series and in danger of losing their no.1 Test team title if one were read perceptions of how Sehwag could change the game. He still can because there is still an innings to go in the third Test and another Test thereafter. However, for a man returning from shoulder surgery and delayed rehabilitations, perceptions can sometimes be skewed more out of hope than being reasonable in making demands. But the modern professional Indian cricketer knows the kind of burden that is weighed upon him.
However, there would be no glory for Sehwag on the day while Gambhir was showing signs that he could fulfill the role bestowed upon his opening partner. In fact with Gambhir and Dravid at the crease, it did seem that the first session before lunch may not see too many casualties. But that was not to be as England struck decisively and in the blink of an eye, India went into lunch four down and the bulk of the work far from completed.
With Bresnan vindicating the faith and Stuart Broad continuing to rise in the eyes of cricket aficionados since almost being given the marching orders, India struggled to cope and change their fortunes with the kind of prowess that their team line up boasts of. Sachin Tendulkar looked uncomfortable once more, his 100th 100 already shelved for want of wear from hype. But perhaps it was the dismissal of Dravid that sent India panicking once more.
The dangerous situation played right into the hands of the England bowlers who relied more on their ability than the conditions to extract the sting out of the Indian batting attack. However, one man who has been under attack has been none other than the Indian captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Dhoni’s batting did not come to the party, his wicket keeping was falling behind on English pitches and even his captaincy rather uncharacteristically left something to be desired.
With questions perhaps more loud than ever regarding Dhoni, the captain was faced with the tough proposition of urgently sorting out his batting, which would form a significant part of his designated contribution in the team, while also, raising the bar once more in the captaincy area as best he can while still keeping composure behind the stumps.
To Dhoni’s credit, he fought back the critics to a great extent as Dhoni and Praveen Kumar went about in a gritty partnership thwart England from skittling India out cheaply as they threatened to do with India 111 for seven. Their eighty-four run partnership for the eighth wicket saved India not only the blushed but also, from putting themselves in a position of great peril although it is hard to see if India have covered themselves enough. Dhoni naturally played the upper hand in the partnership and his seventy-seven runs is testimony to the fact that Dhoni can and does dig deep when the situation demands it of him. The tragedy of it is that his runs did not come on the back of an astounding start for India because it would have made for a great follow up.
Eventually India were bowled out for 224 with Broad and Bresnan picking up four wickets apiece. But the problems that have plagued India on this tour continued, this time in the bowling department, as the England openers – both of whom have been searching for runs – found their groove and settled in quite nicely to end the day at eighty-four for no less, the England captain, Andrew Strauss, sits more comfortably on the back of a half century.