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While India’s position looks strong at the end of Day One, the batting to follow is inexperienced. It is of utmost importance for Murali Vijay and MS Dhoni to consolidate on the second morning, writes Arunabha Sengupta
Having successfully overcome the setback of losing Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in successive overs. India looks to consolidate on the second morning.The sun is shining brightly from the very early hours and the conditions are likely to stay the same as the day before. The only change perhaps will be an increased nip in the air. The rains are anticipated more towards the eastern part of the county, sparing the city and the spectators the need to carry a brolly – even though Test Match Special insisted on this yesterday.
Murali Vijay and MS Dhoni are both settled, looking solid with runs under their respective belts. It will be crucial for them to continue in the same vein. The Indian position looks strong for now, but a glance at the batting card does not allow much scope for peace of mind until another hundred or so runs have been added on the board. The ones to follow are untested and unproven. A loss of an early wicket and debutant Stuart Binny may be exposed to the demanding challenges and tensions of a Test match with the game still very much in balance. And Ravindra Jadeja’s bat has not yet had a good outing in a Test match in spite of his monumental feats at the domestic level.
Last evening, Rahul Dravid came across with guarded optimism about Binny when this writer ran into him at the Hilton Nottingham. “He is a good batsman, but Test cricket is definitely a new challenge for him.”According to the ace batsman, conditions in Trent Bridge are also not likely to help Binny’s bowling too much.
The lack of a decent spinner is hitting England hard, and the Indians have exploited this glaring gap masterfully. Thus far the ten overs bowled by Moeen Ali and Joe Root have amounted to 56 runs, both Vijay and Dhoni expertly milking the non-turning offerings. One has the inkling that down the line, with a cushion of a bigger total, the Indian batsmen will be even more aggressive against the innocuous tweakers.
On an unhelpful surface, it is extremely difficult for a seam based attack to run in continuously without a steady spin option to fall back on. England is already missing Graeme Swann in a huge way, especially the likes of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad who had always operated through the days with the ace off-spinner holding up one end.
The weather predictions have changed too rapidly to encourage much faith, but there are forecasts of clouds on Friday and some showers on the day after. In that case, there might be some help for the seamers. However, it is unlikely to make a telling impact. In yesterday’s press conference Vijay did express hope for more helpful conditions when India bowled.
Yet, Dravid, with his immense experience of English conditions, is not so optimistic. “There might be some help for the bowlers, some movement perhaps, but not much. The pitch is going to play the same.”
Yet, with the surface almost sub-continental in nature, and the England bowlers generating more than significant reverse swing, the young duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami may have a big role to play later on. For now, it is of utmost importance that the overnight batsmen build on the excellent partnership they have already put together.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry.He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)
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