By the time the first drinks were taken on the first morning yesterday, England had made their first dreadful mistake. There was nothing they could do about it because that particular tuk-tuk had already chugged off into the distance.
Monty Panesar may as well have been on board it, rather than in the dressing room. The tourists knew that they could and should have played two specialist spinners against India on a flat, dry pitch.
It might not have curbed the brilliance of Virender Sehwag who scored the most delightful of hundreds, his first for two years and 31 innings. But it would have given England an extra dimension.
Sehwag gave his side control with a breathtaking display. He was going merrily along at greater than a run a ball. England had little response. Graeme Swann rescued England from the mire by taking their only four wickets of the day, bowling compactly, turning it, waiting for and inviting mistakes. But there was no Panesar to help him.
After an apprehensive start when he might have been either toyed with or overwhelmed, Samit Patel, below, did well in the final session when England restricted India to 73 runs. But Patel is a batsman who bowls and India know it.
The seamers were impotent as well as wicketless yesterday. Tim Bresnan, the third seamer, was allowed only 10 overs. He was denied a wicket by one of England's significant fielding lapses but conceding 56 runs felt like he had gone round the park in a one-day match. It was off Bresnan's bowling that Jimmy Anderson missed an opportunity to catch Cheteshwar Pujara, when he misjudged the flight at mid–off.
Of the two other fast men, Stuart Broad bowled like a man short of match practice, which he is. Anderson improved as the day wore on and had Sehwag dropped on 80 down the leg side by Matt Prior. That England were not wholly out of the match was thanks to Swann, who earned the breakthrough for which his side were desperate, in the 30th over.
India were rattling along at four an over and Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had shared their 11th Test century opening partnership when Gambhir saw the ball turn past his bat and hit off stump. Another 97 had been added when Swann turned one through Sehwag's slog sweep.
Swann then claimed Sachin Tendulkar's precious wicket for the third time. Tendulkar, essaying an aerial shot to leg, holed out. Finally, Swann had Virat Kohli pushing one through the gate.
The least illustrious of India's top five was still there at the close. Pujara produced a shapely, proper Test innings and ended on 98 not out.
- More about:
- Graeme Swann
- Monty Panesar
- New Cross
- Sachin Tendulkar
- South Asia
- Stuart Broad