Lord's laughs as India slip in the wet with another Pujara run-out
Only a minute before, Lord's was laughing. A fairly strong drizzle had descended as a black cloud was making its way ominously from the west towards the ground. The umpires opted to send the players back to the dressing room.
James Anderson, standing at the Pavilion End to deliver the second delivery of his fifth over, was far from impressed. Anderson stayed at the top of his bowling mark, tongue sliding against the lower lip, as a snake would, waiting to bite, even as Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara quickened their step out of the ground.
No sooner had both batsmen crossed the ropes than a bright shaft of sunlight lit up the ground. The drizzle, too, stopped. The umpires signalled for the players to return to the field. Guffaws erupted as Lord's had a good laugh.
Just like he had done to the first delivery of the over, Pujara left alone the ball that pitched wide outside and moved away. Next up, Anderson seamed the ball in to Pujara. This time Pujara tapped it in front of square with soft hands and jumped out of his crease to go for the single. There was no one guarding the area. Five slips were in their position at the time, with Ollie Pope at the extreme right. Chris Woakes was at extra cover, but far away. It looked an easy run by modern standards.
Kohli had already taken a start as the ball left Anderson's hands. Pujara, having taken a step and a half, hesitated. But Kohli had already come halfway down. After that initial stutter, Pujara continued running with head down.
Kohli, though, had spotted Pope closing in on the ball. He stopped. Pujara, who was now by his captain's side, appeared shocked. Then Kohli ran back. Pope gleefully broke the bails. Lord's erupted into laughter for the second time in minutes. And seconds later the players sprinted off the field for real as the rain came down in torrents this time.
India head coach Ravi Shastri, sitting in the visitors' balcony, was speechless, no doubt seething. His expression said it all. At the outset of the series, talking about Pujara's running between the wickets, Shastri had said: "We don't want him to be an Usain Bolt. We want him to be Pujara."
Pujara had been embarrassed by running himself out twice in the Centurion Test in January. Pujara was annoyed about that. But was it really Pujara's fault today? During the fraction of a second when Pujara had hesitated, Kohli had continued running. Why did Kohli stop?
The darkened skies and the showers might have been frustrating, but India were finally experiencing the true English summer. Pujara had already endured a tough overcast morning that had been interrupted by rain breaks. Brought in for Shikhar Dhawan, he was marking his guard as early as the last ball of the first over of the match after Anderson sent down a mesmerising outswinger that Murali Vijay played badly and was bowled.
Anderson placed an extra slip, a fifth, as Pujara got ready to face his first ball. He played it with soft hands as the ball went safely to the slips. Stuart Broad would soon raise his hands in near delight as the ball seamed into his pads from length. Pujara had got his bat down in time and was saved by the inside edge. Anderson would seam the ball off the famous slope, but once again the bounce was true for Pujara to leave it alone. Both Anderson and Pujara smiled at each other.
Pujara might not have got any runs during his county stint at Yorkshire earlier this summer, but he had adjusted his stance to cover the line of the delivery in this innings. He was picking the length quickly and moving in line to react more confidently.
Unfortunately for him, and India, his innings ended in abrupt and comical fashion. Kohli was no doubt angry, though it wasn't clear whether at Pujara or himself. It was a horrendous run-out, no doubt, and one that encapsulated India's day. Joe Root had called right at toss and asked India to bat in conditions ripe for Anderson and Broad. India were 15 for 3 with barely eight overs bowled.
Former international captains at the ground wondered if India's fate in the series had already been sealed. If India failed at Lord's, they wondered, it would take a miracle for them to bounce back in the remaining three Tests especially with the next match at Trent Bridge, a happy hunting ground for Anderson and Broad.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo