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India v England, 2nd Test, Mohali, 1st day
David Lloyd: India look good for 500-plus
December 19, 2008
A slow day's cricket, but Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid put India in a position of strength
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"Rahul Dravid hung on by the seat of his pants, used all his experience and showed a much better rhythm and fluency to his batting and justified his captain's faith" © Getty Images

Well, we have had a very cold, cloudy day at Mohali and quite a slow day's play too. But the day started very frostily as Sir Ian Botham announced himself by saying, "If this security is not out by tomorrow, I am going home." He was in complete high dudgeon about being frisked at the gates many times. And that is really in keeping with what is being said in the local papers by the chief of security here, that there will be much frisking. Well he hasn't been wrong.

The game itself was delayed due to bad light. I did my first pitch report at 8am and I had to do it again because it was so dark at 8am that we couldn't really see much of the pitch. Security was tight and I really hope you have seen the pictures of a dog that came onto the pitch, who took a great liking to me. He climbed onto my leg and stood there for quite some time. I wouldn't say I was embarrassed because I have dogs at home and I felt a little homesick.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat on what is a very dry pitch. It's an interesting pitch in that it is very bare at the ends and it has a green strip in the middle where the fast bowlers pitch the ball. I think it will make for interesting cricket. I have no doubt that the pitch will spin later on, but I think it will be much later on, on day four or five.

So England had to bowl first. Stuart Broad was brought into the team at the expense of Steve Harmison and he gave the team life. He is only 22 years of age and was full of exuberance as he came into bowl. He bowled with great heart and removed Virender Sehwag for a duck. What a difference a week can make. Sehwag was the toast of India in Chennai and then fell for zero here today.

Enter Rahul Dravid. I think everybody wanted him to do well. He is a great player, with 10,000 Test runs, who is in a trough at the moment. He hung on by the seat of his pants, used all his experience and India lunched at a very sedate 51 for 1. The afternoon session was another slow, solid session and India advanced to a 131 for 1 at tea -significantly not losing any wickets - and Dravid had gone to a very careful 50 not out. Kevin Pietersen and his team will be very disappointed that they couldn't pick up and wickets. Things were looking very ominous although the England bowlers put in a much better session: probing for wickets while keeping a lid on the run-flow, something that they couldn't do in Chennai. Dravid also had a much better rhythm and fluency to his batting and justified his captain's faith as Dhoni had said that he will bat at No. 3 - there was talk that Dravid would drop down to No. 5 and VVS Laxman would move up to No. 3.

Gautam Gambhir went on to make his third Test century [in seven innings] and he looks like another Indian batsman who is here to stay. I think he looks a fine player. He played second-fiddle to Sehwag in Chennai but this time with Sehwag going quickly it was Gambhir who took the game on and played some good shots. He looks a solid opening batsman, watchful, but likes the cut shot as most left-handers do.

Bad light won the day in the end and although England will have the choice of the new-ball early tomorrow morning, the curator has said we could have more cloudy weather as well as some rain tomorrow. But it is India who are in a commanding position with nine wickets remaining on 179 for 1. If you ask me, don't rule out 500-plus.

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