India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 2nd day November 24, 2012

Pietersen and Cook set up solid platform


England 178 for 2 (Cook 87*, Pietersen 62*) trail India 327 (Pujara 135, Panesar 5-129) by 149 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In England, it has become customary to look at Kevin Pietersen and see only a problem. In India, the talk is of his star quality. That unmistakeable batting talent was to the fore once more on a sweltering second day of the Mumbai Test as he began to put his tribulations behind him and rebuild an England career that he once imagined might be lost for ever.

Alastair Cook, the England captain who must manage Pietersen's maverick talents, must have looked down the pitch and concluded that this was a problem worth having. Cook, who in his worst moments must have imagined that India was becoming an insurmountable challenge, could spot an ally from 22 yards away. Between them, they stilled India's spin-bowling frenzy.

Cook was 13 runs short of another Test hundred at the close, another formidable innings in pressing circumstances. Alongside him, Pietersen had made an unbeaten 62 in enterprising fashion. Instead of talk of "reintegration," as formally laid down by the ECB, they chatted informally between overs of cricketing matters, of runs and wickets and ambitions to win a Test and square the series. It is far too premature to suggest that the good times were returning, but perhaps the deepest pain is behind them.

One bemused Indian pundit, observing Pietersen in full flow, suggested that he struggled to cope with the regimented ways of England, where people "liked to stand in queues." Well, they have certainly been queuing up in recent months to take a pop at Pietersen. He will hear little such criticism in Mumbai. It is perhaps no surprise that in the country which lavishes more affection on him than any other he began to rediscover his mojo.

Pietersen, lambasted for a frenzied approach in Ahmedabad, played confidently against India's spinners from the outset. He confidently despatched his first ball, from Harbhajan Singh, to the cover boundary. Another upbeat drive against Pragyan Ojha restated his well-being. His footwork was trim, his misjudgements were rare. There were times when his presence alone seemed enough to draw errors in length from the Indian spin attack.

Cook continued to unravel India's mysteries, a power to be reckoned with in all climes, on all surfaces. Twice he used his feet to Ojha, hitting him over mid-on for six and four, as he combated the bowler's leg-stump line, backed up by three close leg-side catchers. As his innings progressed, he swept as productively as at any time in his Test career. They were shots illustrative of a batsman carefully extending his range.

The sweep shot injured two India short legs in the process. Chesteshwar Pujara was struck in the ribs and left the field. The substitute, Ajinkya Rahane, emerged with more padding than a luxury sofa and pulled off some nerveless, agile stops - a sofa on casters - before he, too took a battering and withdrew from service. There was not a noticeable rush to take his place.

R Ashwin bowled the best over at Cook - a top-edged sweep, two play and misses and an edge short of slip reminding England that this test could swing India's way in a flash - but Harbhajan, returning from a 15-month absence for his 99th Test, found little to sustain him.

No Test side has opened with two spinners virtually since cricketing time began, but India did, confident of England's fallibility against spin. Cook built an opening stand of 66 in 31 overs with Nick Compton as India's slow bowlers initially struggled to find much purchase and, after England's miserable year, he must have found the relative calm of the Wankhede Stadium strangely eerie. Then it started again, a cacophony of shouts and cheers, as Compton and Jonathan Trott departed to Ohja to leave India buoyant at the end of an afternoon session where they had to work hard to make an impression.

Trott, so often the rock in England's better days, is looking more fallible by the moment on India's turning pitches and his footwork was uncertain as he edged back to the sixth ball he faced, from Ojha, to be plumb lbw. His expression looks stonier and stonier. As do his feet. Moments earlier, Compton's stubborn resistance ended when his defensive edge carried comfortably to Virender Sehwag at first slip. Compton has made a strikingly cautious start to his Test career - this latest vigil brought 29 from 90 deliveries but his defence has been sound and his commitment undeniable.

England have also found a way to dismiss Pujara in India. Shortly before lunch, Graeme Swann drifted one wide, drew him down the pitch and as Matt Prior removed the bails Pujara had been stumped for the first time in his first-class career. Simple. After around 17 hours in the series. He finished on 135, from 350 balls, to follow his unbeaten double hundred in the first Test in Ahmedabad and his thought processes remained crisp and logical to the end.

England's spinners again capitalised on helpful conditions as India added another 61 in 25.1 overs to their overnight 266 for 6. Monty Panesar ended Ashwin's reviving knock with a brisk arm ball and finished with 5 for 129 on his return to Test cricket. Graeme Swann took three of the last four wickets to fall to finish with 4 for 70, including his 200th Test scalp when he trapped Harbhajan lbw, and was also helped by an erroneous decision by umpire Aleem Dar when he gave out Zaheer Khan at short leg.

After his 34 overs on the first day, Panesar was a picture of concentration, his eyes set in a blank stare of concentration as if saying: "Processes for Mushy bhai, processes for Mushy bhai".

However, England's fielding lapses remain an everyday occurrence. Trott was the latest culprit, failing to lock on to Harbhajan's edge to his left at first slip. He was perhaps fleetingly unsighted by Prior's gloves, but Trott's starting position was poor and his reactions were lumbering. He has not fielded regularly at slip for some time and it showed.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on November 25, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    @cricket-is-best - Very accommodating of you to give England some credit in your comments as opposed to just moaning about umpiring etc. Much appreciated

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    radical changes to be made in team selection immediately. miss kumble very much. dont get me wrong but the english are very poor in playing against GOOD SPIN attacks not the ordinary one that india possess now. ojha though extremely hard working is no warne. better call back murali karthik. harbhajan ,tendulkar, yuvraj, gambhir,dhoni must be dropped for the next test immediately and must never considered for selection in tests again barring yuvraj. shaky kohli and sehwag must get their acts together in 2nd innings or must face the axe. yadav must play next test no matter what. ishant must not disappoint again if given another oppurtunity. and where the heck is sreesanth. we need him as zaheer is getting older. Pujara alone cant win test matches. get mukund and rahane in the team. get parvinder awana and unmukt chand in the team also. indian cricket at the current moment is in great trouble.

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2012, 6:34 GMT

    Cook has batted beautifully -- almost as well as any non Asian in India in recent times. But in every inning he has gotten one live from the umpires, and boy has he cashed in. 1st test he was out for 34 (in 33rd over) in first inning and 41 (in 24th over) in 2nd innings. He was out yesterday on 84 in Harbhajans over (over# 62). So in 2 Tests he has already effectively batted 5 times. Prior was let off in first test second inning, and Yesterday Zaheer got a shocker. Samit got 3 bad ones in 1st test (one in favor, when he was plumb and two against, when he was not out). Over all third grade umpiring so far.

    And for most part, Ashwin has looked like an IPL bowler who does not have enough tricks to topple top batsmen, unless they throw it away. Also I think 3 spinner ploy is over. Why Pankaj Singh is not in the squad, beats me. See his 4/5 wicket videos on you tube, couple recent Ranji games and you will get the answer. Guy is tall, strong, has picked pace and balls both delivery.

  • Yasir on November 25, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    Some People were saying that Ashwin is better than Saeed Ajmal..Hm yes i can clearly see it while English batsmen are busy trashing him over the ground. & it is India's ho,e ground so no more exuses :P

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    So Dhoni got his wish and what happened? The highly overrated India batters, bar Pujara, couldn't play the English spinners. Then poor bowling by India spinners, coupled with some ordinary captaincy, came up way short against the determined Cook and the brilliant KP. What Indians need to realize is that the best teams always have enough quality players, who can play well in all conditions. And that's what we need to have too. Like we used to, a few years ago. It's not going to work if we keep losing badly in England, Australia, SA etc and hope to take revenge on rank turners in India.

  • Kavin on November 25, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    Cook is outstanding. Probably the best opening batsmen in the world in any conditions. On the other side Dhoni, Gambhir, Sachin and Yuvi should be thankful to Pujara because he is saving heir careers. Without Pujara india would have lost to England 4-0 here in India as well.

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    I am more interested what changes selectors usher in....Gambhir sing and exit path for tendulkar....Yuvraj on a short leash and maybe even zaheer....time to give the younger men a chance to see if they have it in them....

  • GV on November 25, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    I am very satisfied with England's progress. I am absolutely disillusioned by Indian cricket. we are not only led by a shameless captain who presided over an 8-0 thrashing, but who also likes to take off his gloves and start bowling, but also have a player looking to be allowed to play 200 tests, regardless of his poor continuing contributions today and right through the 8-0 of last year, have the worst spinners in the world, have batsmen scared of fast bowling, and have our captain asking for turning tracks forgetting that England have better spinners than us. The quicker we get demolished, the quicker we will be rid of Dhoni.

    As a parting thought if why I pray for a comprehensive England victory, we have brought back a mediocre Spinner after 14 months into the side without his having taken even a 5 wicket haul in any first class match during these months. If it is so easy to get into the team, how can India win? We better play Sri Lanka and Bangladesh only.

  • masi on November 25, 2012, 3:27 GMT

    I think its an interesting to see the first session of play that can more helpful to the bowlers,if Indian bowlers can take the wickets of kp and cook early.especially kp can take the game away from the Indians with his attacking nature,cook is more defensive in nature but his temperament is solid, the LBW decision went wrong for the Indians, the match is wide open.

  • Priyanku on November 25, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    @ Akshita29.. again somebody has come up with the same commonplace claim of DRS.My concern is that if an ICC elite panel umpire(deemed one of the best) makes that much error giving repeated howlers,what is the use of them standing in the middle?If those decisions (the wrong ones by them) require DRS, then every others will..its not like moaning.I never took credence as an Indian for the newzealand series win,for those decisions,and would not have commented even if they went against India.But this is an important series, and mind you,the mistakes are of really plumb ones made by one of the best umpires.What if Cook again goes on to make a double century today,maybe Zaheer might have added another 25-30 valuable runs yesterday.i hope u understand. DRS has nothing to do here(unless this is a plan by ICC to compel India for DRS...)

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