England v India, 4th npower Test, The Oval, 2nd day August 19, 2011

England's disdain, India's pain


Disdain of the day
Kevin Pietersen's ego is still a key facet of his game, but it's not the only thing that makes him tick these days. Ever since his double-hundred at Adelaide during the Ashes, he's become more adept at laying his foundations before going bezerk, but that's not to say he doesn't still know how and when to go into overdrive. Today, he saved his most ostentatious shot for the over after he had reached his 150. After sweeping Amit Mishra to short fine leg for no run, KP decided it was time to raise the stakes and flipped in his stance to unfurl the switch hit. The ball soared over what had been extra cover for a one-bounce four, as fittingly he drew level with his ballistic 158 on this ground against Australia.

Stat of the day
Take your pick from a smorgasbord. In their entire Test history, England had only ever managed 13 stands of 300 or more, and yet, today's third-wicket alliance between Pietersen and Ian Bell was their third in the space of 12 months. When KP drove a return catch to Suresh Raina for 175, their final mark of 350 was their seventh-highest of all time, but only the third-best at The Oval. Len Hutton and Maurice Leyland added 382 against the Aussies in 1938, while David Gower and Graham Gooch made 351 against the same opponents in 1985.

Shock of the day
It's happened on 15 occasions in his last 11 Tests, so we really ought to be used to it by now, but somehow, every time Alastair Cook plays a false stroke and gets out, an air of incredulity takes hold of the punters in any given stadium. That is especially true if, as was the case on Friday morning, his departure comes under cloudless skies and without addition to his overnight score. Given how abject India's bowlers had been on the first day, the assumption had been that Cook's 34 not out would soon translate into his 20th Test century. Instead, Ishant Sharma - their one redeeming feature on Thursday - found some lift outside off stump, and an unestablished Cook poked loosely to first slip.

Plod of the day
Andrew Strauss's form at the top of the order doesn't quite qualify as a concern, but he's not been feeling the force in the past few months of action. His 87 at Edgbaston was a timely reminder of his quality, and when he went to bed on 38 not out overnight, he had the foundations of a promising innings. But what followed was a struggle, as India tightened their lines with RP Singh finding the edge with his first two balls of the day. Strauss retreated into his shell thereafter. England's first run of the morning came after four complete overs, and he didn't double his day's tally until the 11th of the day. But then, with the mid-morning drinks break looming, he flashed ambitiously at a wide one from Sreesanth, and left the field swishing his bat in anger.

Helpless moment of the day
Virender Sehwag at leg slip. Not the best pair of hands and definitely not the most athletic. Ishant Sharma had been bending his back all morning, putting in the hard yards and trying to get the better of the England batsmen. Mid-way into the second session, he angled a short-pitched delivery into the body of Kevin Pietersen. Moving across to off stump, Pietersen flicked the ball to the right of Sehwag, standing a couple of yards from the spot he should've actually been positioned at. Nevertheless, Sehwag just stood there, hands on knees, helplessly staring as the ball rushed to the fine-leg boundary for four. A panting Ishant stood aghast mid-pitch, gazing, wondering whatever happened to pro-activeness, agility and simple effort.

Comedy of the day
Thank goodness RP Singh does not have a BCCI contract. Initially it was his selection that raised eyebrows, then it was his innocuous bowling at a docile pace. Adding to the complaints column today was his terrible fielding, which was exposed in two successive balls. Pietersen, inching towards the 90s, belted Mishra towards wide long-off, where a startled Singh took off abruptly but stopped just as suddenly, having lost track of the ball; embarrassingly he could not even gather the ball on the bounce. Pietersen swept the first ball of the next over, from Sachin Tendulkar, towards fine leg. Pietersen's shot selection may have been determined by the fielder as Singh rushed nervously towards the ball, bent his knees to finish the job neatly but allowed a boundary to slip through his legs. The laughter from the Oval crowd was the most mocking of the day.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Johnathon on August 20, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    The main problem is that Indians (and generally all those from the subcontinent) don't put too much emphasis on test/first class matches. I mean, seriously, who would want to spend 5 days in the hot weather (110 degrees+) bowling, standing, and batting away? This might seem random but the subcontinent needs to change this by doing two things. The first thing is televising first class matches and the fans must help support this by turning their tv on or subscribing to it, even though they don't want to watch it. Another thing is, change first class matches to day/night times to get more support and more interest. It may sound dumb, but this could drastically change views on the game. Subcontinent people only like Limited overs cricket

  • Mahesh on August 20, 2011, 6:29 GMT

    Someone should tell Dhoni to stand 2-3 yards in front, so that the slips stand in front to take the edges falling short, he is afraid of getting hurt and standing way back and collecting the balls near his ankles or collecting in 1 bounce or 2 bounce, may be sometime fully rolling, he is taking the edges out of the game.

  • Dummy4 on August 20, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    Anna Hazare,,, Save our Indian TEam...

  • kanishka on August 20, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    Can something good come out of this debacle I wonder. Not if Dhoni's and Srikkant's comments after the third test were any indication. Clearly they are in extreme denial. England are a good team, but there is no way that India should be performing at this level. Bangladesh turned in a far more spirited performance last year despite losing. This is not just a defeat! it's as if the entire team is sleepwalking and going through the motions. Perhaps we should fold our tents and come home. Is there a surrender treaty that we can sign? For God's sake, they don't even need 5 days to beat us any more. I remember the 1974 tour, but this is far worse.

  • rustyryan on August 20, 2011, 3:14 GMT

    I ve heard stories of Wasim bowling at nets for hours even though when there was no cricket played. C'mon saying that RP is unfit, because he is not playing for 5 months is just ridiculous. Players should keep themselves fit. There have been so many pace bowlers waiting for a proper chances But RP seems very uninterested to be in test team.

  • Vinay on August 19, 2011, 22:45 GMT

    It is inexcusable for RP Singh to be unfit just because he hasnt played test cricket. Line and length bowling should be practised EVERY DAY in the nets or at least in 5 two hour sessions a week by any professional bowler so that they are always well tuned in terms of pace, seam position, line and length.

  • Vinay on August 19, 2011, 22:41 GMT

    Two types of batting records need to kept by the ICC. Best partnership and individual records against Indian bowlers and then ones against bowlers not from India. Certainly WI, Pak and SL and even Bangladesh perhaps have better bowling attacks, certainly quicker seamers, than India. KP and Bell batted very well but a 150 partnership against Steyn & Morkel would need to be considered more valuable. If the track is truly flat (we will find out when the Englishmen bowl), then Tendulkar might get his 100th hundred and the Indian fans will have a statistical artefact to treasure from this series. Nothing but. They should import the banned Pak bowlers who routed Aus and Eng on these very wickets, hand them Indian citizenships so that they can play for India.

  • Ajay on August 19, 2011, 22:37 GMT

    It's all a grand strategy from India - try to rub off your attitude in the field onto the opposition. Hopefully they will be equally demotivated when they come in to bat. The captain is leading the pack when it comes to demotivation - he is collecting the ball at his feet and hardly makes an effort to collect cleanly.

  • Peter on August 19, 2011, 22:24 GMT

    In 50 years of watching cricket I cannot remember a more abject, spineless, amateurish, defeatist, shameful approach to a Test. I take no satisfaction in saying I saw this coming before the1st test. I didn't expect a close series because I thought this Indian side had shot its bolt. And it has. Rash hopes that the 4 famous batsmen will somehow one day score heavily again are pie-in-the-sky. They won't. They're finished. Few in this side are international standard fielders. Indeed, they would not only shame a county side, they would shame any club side at fielding. These days, being useless in the field should mean non-selection, REGARDLESS of how many runs one scores. WHY ARE THEY SO FAT? I play village cricket in Kent in the very lowest division of our regional league. Some of us are in our 50s/60s, others are promising teenagers or unathletic "do my best" types. Watching India has led me to the conclusion that all our unfit weekend cricketers field better than these clumsy clots.

  • Dummy4 on August 19, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    I doubt anyone had any interest in watching indian bowlers have a go at English batsmen..I do not recollect at time when indian bowlers were feared by any host or guest country since the times of Chndrashekhar and Bishen singh bedi..we only had one spinner and at most (in 98 % cases 0) 1 less_than_medium_pacer. Even in this series we never clicked as a bowling unit..if Praveen is swinging, Ishant gave away the breather by sending one down the leg for an easy flick and vice versa. Please lets not talk about Bhajji... I am only disappointed on the batting..Dravid is playing good but not THE WALL just BOUNDARY WALL :) Lets not expect anything from Raina/Dhoni they just are not meant for the big league..they may be great batsmen but not for test cricket...

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