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August 10, 2011
Features : Captain Dhoni arrives
Report : England in control after seamers strike
Features : England's bowlers bury India
Matches: England v India at Birmingham
Series/Tournaments: India tour of England
Gallery: England dominant on first day
Pay-off of the day
MS Dhoni has not enjoyed the finest series to date, but with his side facing a complete meltdown at 111 for 7, he reverted at last to the one-day mentality that has fuelled his best performances. With Praveen Kumar providing typically spirited company, he opened his shoulders and turned on the style, cracking Stuart Broad for two fours in three balls before pummelling James Anderson over long-on in a re-enactment of his World Cup-sealing six in Mumbai. One by one, England's fielders retreated to the boundary's edge in an attempt to cool his ardour, and by the time he'd passed fifty, there was just a solitary slip keeping Matt Prior company. All the more remarkable, then, that on 77, Dhoni climbed into a drive, but picked out that very man with a thick edge off Broad.
Catch of the day
Fielding under the helmet is a perilous occupation, as Alastair Cook demonstrated while claiming the catch that ended India's innings. In fact, he didn't so much catch the ball as wear it, as Ishant Sharma went up onto his toes to drill a back-foot drive through the covers. The shot was struck well, but Cook's reflexes at silly point were alive to the moment, as he half-dived, half-toppled, and rolled with the momentum to emerge with the ball embedded somewhere near his armpit.
Ball of the day
Rahul Dravid has not seemed so integral to India's fortunes since his heyday in the early 2000s, and today - as if to prove the point - he was back in the middle just seven deliveries into the Indian innings, and presented once again with challenging overcast conditions. For 67 deliveries it was business as usual, as Dravid presented the straightest bat in the game, first to subdue England's early momentum, and then to hold his team together after the flimsy dismissals of Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar. But then, on the stroke of lunch, he received an absolute beauty from Tim Bresnan - a wicked zinger that straightened off a good length and splattered his off stump. Barnes Wallis himself couldn't have devised a better bouncing bomb, and India's dam had been comprehensively busted.
Breakthrough of the day
He was expected to create an impact. He was expected to destroy the best bowling attack in the world. He was expected to lift India out of the dire straits they had forced themselves into in the last few weeks. In the end Virender Sehwag betrayed those expectations as, playing his first international match since the World Cup final, he barely managed to lift his bat at his first ball, a seaming lifter from Stuart Broad, that kissed the Indian opener's glove en route to the hands of Matt Prior. Sehwag would have known immediately he had edged the ball, but he stood his ground. Andrew Strauss asked for a review, which exposed Sehwag's guilty secret. This was the fifth time in his career Sehwag had been out first ball, but the first occasion since 2006.
Error of the day
Ban VVS Laxman from playing the pull. To get out three times in three Tests so far in the series playing the pull against pretty similar deliveries should even frustrate this most phlegmatic of cricketers. At Lord's, twice he played into the hands of deep square-leg. Today, he went to pull early at a Tim Bresnan delivery that slowed down off the pitch and the top edge flew straight to long leg.
Start of the day
Compared to the riches that his top-order colleagues have been producing in recent months, Andrew Strauss has been in a distinctly fallow run of form. He endured a grim start to the international season, with 27 runs in four innings against Sri Lanka, and though he improved on that in the first two Tests against India, his twin top scores of 32 spoke of a peculiar failure to build on his starts. Today, he set about righting a few wrongs with his first half-century since Sydney in January, and his first on home soil since last year's Edgbaston Test against Pakistan. He'll want to do better than that, however. His Ashes hundred at Brisbane last November remains his only three-figure score in Tests since 2009.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo; Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew Miller
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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