Rivals keyed up despite rain
Going by the weather over the last five days and taking into account the forecast for the next five, this game could well turn out to be a damp squib. Nottingham hasn't witnessed a sunny day in a while and Trent Bridge was dotted with large puddles on the eve of the game, forcing both teams to undertake a 40-minute drive to the indoor nets at Loughborough.
Trent Bridge's drainage system doesn't match the efficiency of the one at Lord's and India, after stalemates in 1996 and 2002, could well leave with their third successive draw at this venue. After being confounded by the London weather last week, though, nobody dare make any predictions. If the skies do clear up both teams would start slightly undercooked, having been forced to gear up indoors. Michael Vaughan didn't seem to have a problem with that while his counterpart, Rahul Dravid, termed it as "another challenge".
"I don't mind having an extra day of relaxing when you have back-to-back games," Vaughan said. "Today we had a real focus to our session. You can never really tell how you're going to pitch up but you get a good vibe that we're a good mind and spirit going into tomorrow's game."
Dravid, quite typically, viewed it as another obstacle to be overcome. "It's obviously tougher on the batting side than the bowlers," he said when asked about the prospect of start-stop days. "The bowlers can get a rest and get back their rhythm but the batsmen's momentum is upset. All this is a part and parcel of touring in England. You expect to have rain here but this is the first time I'm seeing it rain so much. When it rains you invariably finish the day's play at 7:30 in the evening and that requires a lot of concentration. To come back the next day and start off is a challenge in itself."
The weather won't be topmost on Dravid's mind; getting himself and the rest of the middle order to fire remains the priority. Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly will have fond memories of Trent Bridge - having collectively managed three hundreds and five fifties in their two previous Tests here - and the time is ripe for them to rediscover their groove.
Ganguly remains a doubtful starter - India have named Yuvraj Singh in the 12, presumably as cover - but Dravid made optimistic noises in his pre-match press conference. "Sourav is progressing well, obviously we did not have the opportunity to have any outdoor nets today or yesterday... but he's going to take part in the full practice session today and then we'll have a clearer picture... He is feeling much better than yesterday, so we've picked him up for the 12."
Five years ago India's batsmen arrived in Trent Bridge after a hammering at Lord's but held on for a tough draw, one that paved the way for their series-levelling heroics at Headingley. "We [the batsmen] were in this situation on the last tour," said Dravid. "We turned it around in the second innings here and went on to have a good summer. It's been no different this time around."
But did the triumvirate have a lot to live up to, considering their lofty reputations? "We have good reputations because we've done well in the past. Youngsters don't have the same reputation. We didn't perform in the last match and there is no doubt pressure on everyone to perform. It's tough to qualify if there's more pressure or less pressure on us [the three main batsmen] but we know what we need to do." It's far-fetched to imagine them aggregating 421 runs between them, as they managed in 2002, but, as with the weather, don't rule anything out.
England 1 Andrew Strauss, 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Michael Vaughan (capt), 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Ian Bell, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Chris Tremlett, 9 Ryan Sidebottom, 10 Monty Panesar, 11 James Anderson.
India 1 Wasim Jaffer, 2 Dinesh Karthik, 3 Rahul Dravid (capt), 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 Sourav Ganguly, 6 VVS Laxman, 7 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), 8 Anil Kumble, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 RP Singh 11 Sreesanth
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is assistant editor of Cricinfo