Gloom has the final say
The curtain came down on a dull, dreary unsatisfactory day a little before 3.30pm when play was called off. A steady drizzle had begun to fall, and the covers which lay on the square were getting a thorough drenching when Simon Taufel and Darrell Hair decided that enough was enough, after four inspections.
After a first day pregnant with possibilities yet falling short on delivery the second day was almost a total write-off. Just over an hour of play was possible, and the forecast is not great for tomorrow either. In what little play was possible Anil Kumble inched closer to 500 Test wickets, picking up Paul Collingwood, but the game barely moved forward, with 37 runs being added in 14.3 overs as England reached an even 200 for 5 when bad light stopped play.
If the light was a problem, though, Andrew Flintoff seemed not to notice, striking five boundaries, two each off Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel and one off Kumble. Collingwood was not as assured and it cost him dear. He played a defensive shot down the wrong line to a Kumble delivery that drifted in, pitched and turned just enough to beat bat and hit the top of middle stump.
"Obviously he [Kumble] is a world class bowler, going up to 500 wickets. He is one person who bowls a lot of overs. So you have to try and stay patient with him. All the bowlers are difficult and they all have their strengths but he is the one who is going to bowl the most overs and the one we have to combat.," Collingwood said. "He is a great bowler and hard to face on any wicket. It was a pretty good ball [that got me]. Maybe I'm being critical of myself, but I should have got further up."
When the light was offered, and accepted by Flintoff and Jones, the chances of play resuming were slim, and after four hours of waiting in vain for the light situation to improve, stumps were drawn.
England, though, remained guardedly optimistic of getting a result in this game. "There's still a long time to go in the match," said Collingwood, who spoke to the media soon after stumps. "We've got to stay positive and think we are going to get a result. Obviously two days gone and not much cricket played so far it is going to be hard to get a win out there."
Collingwood believed that England would have to put a big first-innings total and put pressure on India, if they wanted to force a result. "Obviously we are going to make up a bit of time but we need to make a big total in this first innings to put them under pressure. That is the only way we can get a positive result." He believed that England could take heart from the reverse swing that the conditions would encourage. "It has shown already that it is reverse swinging which is a good sign for us. If we get enough time in this match then hopefully we can use that to our advantage."
Paul Collingwood b Kumble 25 (180 for 5)
Chose the wrong line to one that drifted in, turned, beat the bat and took middle
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo