Dravid takes confidence from fielding effort
Having watched a sloppy catching side stay true to form at Headingley, the Indian board president Sharad Pawar might be tempted to call for one-bounce catches to be made legitimate. Either that or he thinks of providing every member of the team with a pair of gloves, asking them to follow Mahendra Singh Dhoni's example in this game.
Dhoni's six dismissals, the eighth instance of a wicketkeeper pocketing six and the first by an Indian, provided an inspirational spark. England, motoring along at 97 for 1, appeared set to make a fist of the target before Dhoni, in a moment of brilliance, caught Matt Prior overbalancing and whipped off the bails. Next he pouched Kevin Pietersen's thick edge and followed up with a sharp catch to get rid of Ian Bell. He was involved in all of the first five dismissals and ended up surpassing Nayan Mongia's Indian record.
"He was catching well, and at one stage we were hoping that all the balls go to him," said Rahul Dravid in jest, referring to the three chances that were grassed. "It wasn't so much the visibility but the wind that was the problem. The ball was swaying away from the fielders."
Two catches went down in the slips, one off Ajit Agarkar and the other, the easier chance, off Zaheer Khan. India will worry about the butter-fingers but England felt they were getting India to field badly. "I think we're applying pressure in our running. It's an area we're working on," said Collingwood. "We target fielders and apply pressure."
Collingwood appeared in an extremely generous mood when he termed India a "pretty good" fielding side but Zaheer, for one, may not readily agree. Doubtful for the game, Zaheer came through a fitness test this morning and turned in a fiery spell without too much luck. "It was a terrific spell and he was a bit unfortunate to not to end up with a lot more wickets," said a chuffed Dravid. "He bowled beautifully and beat the bat constantly. The ball with which he got [Kevin] Pietersen out was really critical."
One thing that probably went for Dravid was the loss at the toss, his first of the series. "When an opposition gets 320, everyone is going to question it," Collingwood said about his decision to bowl. "I thought it would move a bit but it probably didn't do as well as we thought. Again, give credit to [Sachin] Tendulkar and [Sourav] Ganguly. I don't think we bowled that badly. They've got experience and can make any bowlers look inadequate."
Dravid had no doubt that the 116-run opening stand lifted India immensely. "That kind of start does make a difference," he said. "Sachin sent back a message saying that it is a really good batting wicket and we should be looking to get a score near 300 or just over 300. Both of them said it was a good wicket. Both of them timed the ball beautifully and looked in great touch, complementing each other well. They also played an almost equal number of balls. It is nice when two top players get you off to a good start that you know you can capitalise on."
So has the momentum shifted, has the initiative changed hands? Collingwood felt it was a matter of "one good game", Dravid prefered not to enter that territory. Time will only tell, as the bandwagon moves to London for the final two matches.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is assistant editor of Cricinfo