Despite their best efforts to lose the game inside the first hour, England just about clung on to India’s coat tails thanks to a heroic performance from Graeme Swann.
If we were a reasonable, balanced kind of website, we’d probably spend most of this review waxing lyrical about Virender Sehwag’s innings. On a day where his team-mates had to grind out their runs he blitzed England to all parts in the morning and turned the tourists from looking vaguely aggressive in the field to running for the hills in the space of about five overs. But, we aren’t a reasonable, balanced kind of website, so we’d like to state once again, for the record, that we’re very much against fat opening batsmen unless they’re Rob Key.
The only reason England are not collectively picking up mysterious niggles and getting sent home overnight is Graeme Swann. Swann took all the wickets to fall on the first day and would have had more, too, were the rest of the side’s fielding even at a barely competent level right now. Usually England’s premier spinner explodes like a particularly fiery volcano whenever a catch is dropped of his bowling, so the fact he managed to hold it all together despite the constant calamity around him was admirable enough in itself. The most concerning aspect is that it does look a
bit lot like he’s going to have to take all 80 wickets in this series if England are to do anything.
Various members of 51allout spent most of the morning throwing an absolutely enormous strop over the state of the pitch and the supposedly skewed significance of the toss. Fortunately, sanity just about prevailed; England are not where they are because of the toss, nor because of the pitch. They are where they are because they bowled abysmally in the morning and fielded terribly all day. To miss a chance off one of Gambhir, Sehwag, Pujara or Kohli would be bad, to miss chances off all four is inexcusable. None were particularly tough opportunities and all should have been taken. It’s becoming somewhat repetitive to say how badly England’s fielding has tailed off over the past year, but it is so marked a decline that it has to be mentioned. You aren’t going to win many games on the sub-continent if you need to take 15 wickets to bowl a side out.
Batten down the hatches?
In all seriousness, there is still a slight window of opportunity for England to haul themselves back into this match. Yuvraj Singh looked about as comfortable as Samit Patel at the salad bar when up against Swann and the new ball is only a handful of overs old. They must take advantage this time; if they bowl as they did at the start of the first day tomorrow then all will be lost before they even settle in for the big Samit v Sehwag battle for seconds at lunch.