A shambolic, embarrassing performance in the field by India allows England’s top order to fill their boots and their pockets with runs galore.
In reaching his first half-century of the series, then his 19th Test century of his career and then his third ‘daddy hundred’ of the last nine months, Alastair Cook was king of all that he played today. All the batsmen made runs, but whereas Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan looked occasionally over-confident, Cook was the one who made sure he was there all day. With the second new ball now 35 overs old, this innings is a chance to convert his 182* into a ‘granddaddy’ (we’re not entirely sure how many runs that would comprise, but we love the sound of it). We should also give Praveen Kumar some credit for being far more economical than his teammates and for taking two deserved wickets.
The 50th over of the innings (the third after lunch), in which Amit Mishra conceded 10 runs including three no balls and Cook reverse-swept him for three, was the sign that the afternoon session would be even worse than the morning for India. As well as England batted, it is hard to pick one particular shot that really sticks in the memory ahead of any other – perhaps an Ian Bell late cut off Ishant Sharma, or a Kevin Pietersen six down the ground off a Mishra full toss. Indeed, the principal moments of the day were all examples of India’s shambles: Rahul Dravid’s two simple dropped chances; Sreesanth’s ‘attempt’ at catching at point; Sharma’s collapse-to-the-ground-after-the-ball-has-passed at mid on; or Mishra’s catalogue of no balls (eight from 26 overs is disgraceful for a spinner, and he would have conceded another if Umpire Taufel had spotted him over-stepping when dismissing Andrew Strauss). What’s the collective noun for no balls anyway?
Can India be this bad again? If they don’t improve dramatically, they could realistically face another full day lumbering around the field: after all, England’s nos. 7 and 8 both average more than their nos. 5 and 6! However in the interests of not being too confident and in hoping for a contest, we expect a dramatic collapse sometime before lunch…