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Stoppages break England momentum
- FIRST TEST
- India’s Day ONE performance devoid of passion

London: Two poor light-induced interruptions punctured England’s momentum, allowing India to regain some ground, otherwise the hosts would’ve taken more than a headstart on Day I of the npower series.

When play was called off well beyond the scheduled close at Lord’s, due to insufficient light, England were 268 for four (80.3 overs). At the first interruption, they’d been a threatening 233 for two.

The opening day of any series provides the best opportunity to make a statement. Often, it’s not forgotten till the last ball has been bowled.

Struck by injury problems, England and Michael Vaughan couldn’t have hoped for a better Day I — till the interruptions, that is. The loss of two wickets (Vaughan for a smart 79 and ODI captain Paul Collingwood, who recorded his first duck in Tests) late in the day notwithstanding, England made a pretty strong statement.

Having largely bowled badly and fielded uninspiredly — Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh must be relieved their contracts have already been extended — Rahul Dravid and Co. are bound to breathe a little easy.

The Indians can come back strong on the second morning. Yet, on Thursday, their performance was devoid of passion. The only time it really surfaced was when former captain Sourav Ganguly effected the breakthrough by sending back Alastair Cook.

In just 14.4 overs, Cook and Andrew Strauss smashed 76, making the huge turnout actually wonder whether they’d come through the turnstiles for a Test match or a one-dayer.

“It’s a friendly attack, you know,” former England coach David Lloyd told The Telegraph.

Of the three regular mediumpacers, only Rudra Pratap Singh bowled to a plan. Or, close to one. Zaheer Khan, in particular, was a big culprit in the morning.

Not that Dravid gave any evidence of having a plan B in place. Instead of getting his bowlers to exploit the conditions (the wicket had pace), the captain was a spectator as they got exploited.

Within the bigger statement made by England was a smaller one from Strauss, who got one-time captain Geoffrey Boycott (who’d torn into him in his preview-column) to eat his words.

Among other things, he’d written: “England’s batting has problems of its own. Clearly, the biggest worry is Andrew Strauss... I was going to say his feet are all over the place, but actually it’s the other way around — his feet don’t go anywhere at all...

“I was alarmed to read a recent interview with Strauss in a cricket magazine, where he’d said: ‘Technique is such a minor part, it’s how you’re feeling mentally that makes the difference’... Well, as long as he keeps believing that, he will keep struggling at the Test level.”

Strauss, as it turned out, was the day’s top scorer: 96 (265 minutes, 186 balls, 16x4). He fell to Anil Kumble, but not before capitalising on a Dinesh Karthik let-off on 43. The bowler to suffer was Sreesanth.

Besides substantially adding to his own score, his partnership with Vaughan got richer by all of 108 runs. It may turn out to be the most crucial collaboration.

Later, Strauss said: “Yes, I’m disappointed at not getting a hundred, but the wicket was among the quickest I’ve batted on at Lord’s... It wasn’t easy and even a little dobbler like Ganguly became difficult...”

Sourav won’t be too amused.

Ask ed to comment on the support showered on the Indians, Strauss answered: “We would like them (Asians) to back us, but we understand their roots... We’re trying to win them over...”

2 RECORDS BY KUMBLE

Anil Kumble set two records on Day I of the Lord’s Test. He dismissed Andrew Strauss for 96 to get his 10th ‘nervous nineties’ victim, thus leaving Kapil Dev behind. The leg-spinner then claimed his 139th lbw victim (Paul Collingwood) to go past Shane Warne.

The following is the list of bowlers who have got six or more ‘nervous nineties’ victims:

10 — Anil Kumble

9 — Kapil Dev

6 — Malcolm Marshall and Muralidharan

The following is the list of bowlers with most lbw victims:

Kumble — 139

Shane Warne — 138

Muralidharan — 133

Wasim Akram — 119

* Collingwood, who had scored 1819 Test runs without scoring a duck, finally got out without opening his account on Thursday. South Afrian AB de Villiers now heads that list, having scored 1757 runs without getting a duck.

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