Plays of the Day July 27, 2007

Pietersen stung by a superstition

Dileep Premachandran comes up with the plays of the first day of the Trent Bridge Test between England and India



At work right from the start; Zaheer Khan utilising conditions well to pick another wicket © Getty Images

Friday and 13: The difference between the two teams at Lord's was Kevin Pietersen, and India were desperate to prevent him wreaking that kind of havoc again. Sreesanth came close with a magnificent delivery that squared him up, only for the back of the bat to save England's batting talisman. But there was to be no lengthy reprieve, with Rudra Pratap Singh, the unlikely Lord's hero, darting one back to trap him in front. Pietersen had made 13, and that too on a Friday. Not that we're superstitious or anything.

Grand Old Duke of York: When Zaheer Khan announced his arrival with a splendid yorker to Steve Waugh at the ICC Knockout in Nairobi in October 2000, it spawned a few Duke of York headlines. Faced with Yorkshire's pride, Michael Vaughan, at Trent Bridge, Zaheer reprised those young tearaway days with a vicious bouncer. Vaughan's evasive action was late, and he was clanged on the helmet. A crisp clip for four looked to have redressed the balance, but then Zaheer came round the wicket to entice the edge with one that moved away a touch. Notch one up for the émigré Duke.

Straight as a Robin Hood arrow: He may not have been out there too long, but Pietersen gave a glimpse of his undoubted class with a glorious straight drive off RP Singh. The mid-on and mid-off fielders barely bothered to jog after it.

Flail and Grab: With so much grass on it, this wasn't really a pitch tailormade for Anil Kumble. But when thrown the ball, he was soon hitting the spot and asking questions with the bounce. Matt Prior had taken 18 balls to get off the mark, and when he saw one tossed up just outside off stump, he set himself up for a big flail through the covers. This time though, Kumble had got some turn, and the outside edge was brilliantly taken to his left by Rahul Dravid, who these days fields at slip only when his fellow Bangalore boy is bowling.

Media attack: This was very much a pitch made for the old-fashioned English seamer, the sort of surface on which a Geoff Arnold or a Chris Old would have thrived. In the media centre too, there were a couple of likely suspects. Angus Fraser led the line admirably at a time when English cricket was nowhere near as strong as it is now, and there was also Derek Pringle, whose ability to extract sideways movement from steeple-height made him a discomfiting prospect on such pitches. And in the Indian dressing room, there was Venkatesh Prasad, who utilised such conditions superbly on his way to 15 wickets in 1996.

Wolf Blass Wines: It's a sign of our commercial times that advertising space goes to the highest bidder, but there's something slightly ironic about an Australian wine getting so much hoarding space at a venue where you have a stand named after [Harold] Larwood and [Bill] Voce, the architects of Douglas Jardine's Bodyline strategy. Then again, Larwood himself emigrated to Australia, where he died 12 years ago.

Dileep Premachandran is associate editor of Cricinfo