Nagpur: India finally seemed to have turned up for a Test match after back-to-back shocking defeats at home and Mahendra Singh Dhoni was at the centre of the fight back yet again. Here are some of the moments from Day 1 of the fourth Test match in Nagpur.
A chirpy skipper, a lively team
Team India's man-in-charge has been under the pump from all quarters - former players, selectors, media and fans - but he chose a typical Dhoni-like way to if not silence them but atleast bolster the team's morale. In a do-or-die situation, it was almost a 'vintage' MSD on the field in Jamtha, Nagpur. He not only displayed his 'instinctive touch' as he went with 4 spinners (which was a wrong move according to many) but also did something that was missing from the team in the previous two Tests.
With Hindi punchlines galore, ("yahin daalte rehna" meaning "Keep bowling them here", "aisa nahi, jaisa plan kiya tha Ojha" meaning "Not like this but as we had planned Ojha" and "ek aur leke jayenge Tea se pehle" meaning "We will get another wicket before Tea break") Dhoni was all chirpy and upbeat on a up and down Jamtha track. This brings us to question that why was this missing in the last two games. What stopped him from atleast motivating the deflated boys? That remains unanswered for now.
What all this did in a such an important game for the skipper though was bring intensity on field. One argument could be the coming in of Ravindra Jadeja, which definitely gave India better fielding options. Even Pragyan Ojha, considered to be just an okay fielder at best, was in his element. Once in the day though, Dhoni's chirps did not work their magic. Skipper asked Ojha to bowl to England debutant Joe Root in a certain manner ("iske pair pe daal. thoda baitha. yeh aise hi jayega" meaning "Bowl on his legs. Get one to skid and stay low. He will get out this way.") but that never worked and Root played the day out well. India did try their heart out though.
A rough one, a shocker
Ishant Sharma could not put a step right in Zaheer Khan's company but as soon as the left-armer was shown the door, the lanky fast bowler seemed in bright spirits. He was the best bowler on show for the hosts on a slow Nagpur pitch. In the ninth over of the day, Jonathan Trott was just about getting the hang of the pitch after Nick Compton's dismissal when Ishant struck him right in front after 'softening' him up. Kumar Dharamsena shook his head. An over later, the batsman had changed and Ishant struck Cook this time but not in front. The ball never came back enough to hit the stumps and it was hitting outside off. But the ICC best umpire for 2011-12 raised his finger. India had managed to dislodge the run-machine, albeit luckily. (Alastair Cook Photo credit: BCCI)
It could be argued though, that England skipper was himself showered with some luck in the first two Tests when clear lbw shouts went in his favour. Even today, Trott was a gonna. But that's cricket then, without DRS!
KP Trotting along
Kevin Pietersen has a Test strike-rate of 63.49 over 91 matches (excluding this one). Today he batted at under-40 (38.82 to be precise) but never looked out of control. If commentators were to be believed, KP was counter-attacking even on Day 1. This counter though was of a different kind. His defence was absolutely decisive, his attack incisive and the result was there for all to see, 73 off 188 balls with ten super fours. When Pietersen and Jonathan Trott were on the crease, the pitch did not seem threatening at all. May be that confidence rubbed off on to Joe Root and Matt Prior too after KP was finally dismissed.
Another Jaddu gets the cap, so does Root
This surely has to be the 'Moment of the day' and the Test match. Ravindra Jadeja had received his ODI cap from the great man himself, Sachin Tendulkar. He got his Test cap too from the same man and what a great moment to cherish for the Saurashtra all-rounder. Jadeja did not just turn up but also turned his arm over effectively to earn a couple of good wickets, in fact top wickets in match situation, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen. (Jadeja photo credit: BCCI)
Another man, rather boy, on the other side was playing international cricket for the first time (Jadeja has played T20s and ODIs though), Joe Root. He received his cap from the now T20 professional, commentator and ex-England skipper Paul Collingwood. It was Collingwood though who seemed under pressure more than Root while giving him the 'talk before debut'. The Yorkshire youngster meanwhile looked assured on crease scoring 31* off 110 balls to bail England out of trouble late in the day.