England v India, 4th npower Test, The Oval, 1st day August 18, 2011

Rain prevents England building on solid start


England 75 for 0 (Strauss 38*, Cook 34*) v India
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Given the way England have dominated this series it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that the only thing that will stop them completing a whitewash is the weather. Rain wiped out play after lunch on the opening day at The Oval, but during the two hours possible Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook formed a solid platform against a very disappointing India attack as England reached 75 without loss.

This was as poorly as India had bowled all series as they wasted whatever help was on offer under overcast skies. There was barely a chance created during the session and the whole attitude portrayed by the visitors was of a team low on confidence and waiting for the series to finish. Defeat here will leave them third in the world rankings but it's difficult to see them limiting England's in-form batting line-up with a better forecast for Friday.

RP Singh, on his return to the Test team after a three-year absence for the injured Praveen Kumar, didn't set a good tone with his opening over. The first ball was sprayed down the leg side and the batsmen were offered some gentle leg-stump deliveries to open their accounts. He was also about the same pace as Praveen, but with less swing, which wasn't entirely surprising considering he hadn't played first-class cricket since January.

Although a couple of early boundaries came to third man they were played with soft hands by Strauss and Cook. There was an alarming lack of intensity from India, both with the ball and in the field, as they failed to make any use of the overcast conditions. Sreesanth's first spell was poor with too many deliveries on leg stump which ensured the scoreboard kept ticking over with Cook, for the time being at least, taking his average over 50.

India showed slightly more energy during the second hour - although everything is relative - and Strauss had his most uncomfortable moment when he was struck on the helmet by an Ishant Sharma bouncer that took a chunk out of the lid. From that moment Strauss was more reluctant to get forward, but was still able to play a beautiful off drive against Sreesanth.

Ishant remained the pick of the three quicks, probing away outside off and finding a touch of troubling bounce, but there were few alarms for the openers. Even with two left-handers at the crease it was a surprise when Suresh Raina's part-time offspin was used ahead of Amit Mishra who removed Strauss at Edgbaston.

Earlier, James Anderson had been passed fit to take his place in the England side as they remained unchanged. A thigh niggle had created doubts about his fitness, but he came through a net on Wednesday so Graham Onions or Steven Finn, who left to play for Middlesex against Kent, were not required. On the evidence of the first session, and with the impact of the weather, Anderson might not be needed until well into the weekend.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on August 19, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    Mind you, there are always the odd exceptions; @Srikanth_Narasimhan;" Everyone knows England is weak against quality spin bowling.... Aswin and Rahul would have surely put this english team in a different plight..." Everyone except the Engalnd team apparently. Now where, prey tell did this MYTH come from? If you had checked your figures @Srikanth - you would have found that in the past 3 years bowling spin against England was the LEAST EFFECTIVE way of getting them out. Anyway, even if what you say were true, and it isn't true, india don't have any quality spin bowlers - nobody in the top 20 even, so what you are saying is nonsense. The quality spin bowler is in the England team and you'll be able to enjoy watching him take wickets in india's second Innings.

  • Dummy4 on August 19, 2011, 10:56 GMT

    @Srikanth_Narasimhan: Excellent observation!! Anybody from BCCI listening??

  • Martin on August 19, 2011, 10:18 GMT

    Well, currently on holiday in France (on the premise that if they can't find me, they can't arrest me :-0). I have tickets for Sunday. I have been following on 5live and Cricinfo - but I don't think I'll bother coming back - I think I'll take another week. There is nothing worth coming home for. India have been utterly pathetic. Utterly, utterly PATHETIC. Not worth watching. I was REALLY looking forward to this series, really looking forward to seeing the Indian batsmen against Anderson & Co. But it just hasn't happened. It's been a complete Fizzer. Even the ridiculous comments from some of the india fans have stopped, so there's no fun there either. It's been the most one-sided home series I can remember and I can remember a lot. The way this game is going to go is - England bat long, long, long, as before; score 600+ declare at Tea Day 3, then rumble india in the 7 sessions plus lost time from Day 1. It'll be so easy that - to be honest, it's almost not worth doing.

  • Dummy4 on August 19, 2011, 9:44 GMT

    BCCI should summon an emergency meeting with ICC to bring a new rule, where a visiting team cant be beaten 4-0 or the whole series is nullified, this is the best future plan BCCI can do that ll help india

  • Rauf on August 19, 2011, 9:43 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur.. This is the fourth test and if you are still looking for some brilliance out of Indian team then perhaps you stand alone in your enthusiasm. Even the Indian team have pretty much given up. Yes Sehwag could go for 150 in 26 overs if this series was being played on flat Indian tracks against Bangladesh.

  • Dummy4 on August 19, 2011, 9:31 GMT

    What about the Weather at Oval London today.....game will on or not....

  • Dummy4 on August 19, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    England hasn't won a series in India,still England fans are buzzing here.Let England win in India then i will agree they are competitors to India.Already India won series in England what if they lose one or may matches or series in England nothing interesting to you English fans.Bad Luck.

  • Benn on August 19, 2011, 9:03 GMT

    Just reading the comments from Indian fans about England having to prove themselves overseas before they can be considered the world's best team. Sour grapes aside, surely that rationale should have applied to India too? Apart from beating two of the weaker Test teams (NZ & WI), India haven't been too special on their travels either and haven't had a recent series win in AUS or SA. Yes, they had a very fortunate 1-0 win on their last tour to ENG, but even that was down to rain washing out the last session at Lords with England needing one wicket for victory. And you can discount India's away wins on the sub-continent too as they were all achieved in conditions too similar to those found at home. All of which kind of proves my point - India have held the no.1 spot for the last two years only by default.

  • ashok on August 19, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    England are nowhere near a good Indian ODI team...

  • Chris on August 19, 2011, 8:57 GMT

    @maruthudelft - you cannot grumble at the scoring rate as England have scored consistently quickly (faster than India) during this series and have 8 attacking batsmen to follow Cook and Strauss - wait and see what the run rate is at the end of day 2!

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