The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Test thrown wide open
- Dhoni ‘caught’ in controversy on second afternoon
Wasim Jaffer

London: We’re in for a fascinating Test at Lord’s, an advertisement both for the three-match npower series and the sport itself.

Up against England’s 298, the Indians were 145 for four in their first innings at stumps on Day II. At the wicket were Sourav Ganguly and nightwatchman Rudra Pratap Singh.

Familiar with just about every blade of grass (having got a hundred on debut 11 summers ago), Sourav has been around for 76 minutes and must build on the 25 runs already in his account.

Conditions are conducive for the exponents of swing and lanky debutant Chris Tremlett — who sent back Wasim Jaffer (58) — could prove a tough customer.

Hopefully, the face-off won’t be remembered for the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-Simon Taufel ‘incident’, where the world’s No.1 umpire for the last three years upheld an appeal against Kevin Pietersen which (as replays showed) wasn’t legitimate.

Pietersen had begun to walk back when the England balcony shouted that he stay put. By then, Taufel had begun conferring with on-field colleague Steve Bucknor. Soon enough, the decision was reversed.

Till late on Friday, though, it wasn’t clear whether the TV umpire had come into play.

It’s another matter that the highly-rated Pietersen didn’t add to his score and, in the next Zaheer Khan over, got taken by Dhoni.

Having done the unexpected (going by their bowling on the first day), the Indians had an excellent opportunity to start big and, then, consolidate. That didn’t happen, with Dinesh Karthik and captain Rahul Dravid (out to a beautiful outswinger from James Anderson) falling early.

Jaffer and Sachin Tendulkar did have a 79-run partnership for the third-wicket, but the latter couldn’t significantly improve on his best in Tests at Lord’s. Sachin became another Anderson victim.

After doing all the hard work, Jaffer gave it away not many minutes from the close.

Earlier, in a collapse as dramatic as the confession by seven members of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s cabinet that they’d smoked cannabis, the last six England wickets fell within 26 runs and 10.5 overs in exactly an hour after a delayed start.

Play did get underway well behind schedule, but full marks to the Lord’s ground staff for reducing the time which could’ve been lost. That the Home of Cricket has a superb drainage system helped.

For India, the second new ball did the trick, with RP getting a wicket (nightwatchman Ryan Sidebottom’s) on the very second delivery.

Zaheer was the next to strike as Pietersen, who has been complaining of fatigue, didn’t move his feet and made nothing of the ‘reprieve’. Sreesanth then got three lbws before Zaheer ended the innings by claiming Ian Bell.

The combative Sreesanth finished with three for 67. “Sourav’s bowling yesterday inspired me... As for myself, I’d probably got carried away (by the Lord’s aura)...” he said.

“The Indians bowled in the right areas... They were far more disciplined than on the first day... Plus, the wicket got quicker and the batsmen didn't adjust,” former India captain and cricket manager Ravi Shastri told The Telegraph.

Clearly, adapting to the movement and pace will be the name of the game on Day III as well.

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