Clinical England pour on the agony

England 75-0 v India

The Oval

England were jolly good yesterday, India were dreadful. In the two hours of play that were possible on the first day of the final Test, the story of the summer unfolded.

It was about resolute, confident and sure-footed batting and wayward, innocuous, hesitant bowling. The upshot was that England's opening batsmen scored 75 runs and India's four bowlers took no wickets.

This was not much evidence on which to base the potential course of an entire match, but it seemed enough: the home side to win some time on the fifth day, perhaps before if India's batsmen embark on their business as their bowlers did yesterday.

It is possible that The Oval pitch and their history on it will offer the tourists some reason for hope. They have not lost at the ground since 1959 since when they have won once to secure a historic series win and had five successive draws. But that was also the year when The Oval match confirmed a whitewash; a reprise seems likely.

For the first time since the opening Test match of the summer at Cardiff, the side winning the toss decided to bat. Unfortunately for the tourists, it was England. In summing up the other day his side's misfortunes in this series, M S Dhoni, India's captain, said that such matters as injuries and tosses were out of his control.

True, but it ignored the fact that he won the toss in the first two matches, put England in and still lost. But bowling with his attack on this surface was not on his priority list.

From the first over onwards it was wretched. R P Singh, playing his first Test match for three years, took eight minutes to complete it. This was less his fault than that of the coves who kept bobbing up and down behind the sight screen at the Vauxhall End but rhythm, fluency and accuracy all eluded him.

It was an astonishing selection. Singh joined the tour as a replacement for Zaheer Khan, whose absence has proved so debilitating, but apart from his lack of recent Test experience he has not played a first-class match since January.

He must have performed mighty service in the nets to persuade the team selectors that he was a better bet than Munaf Patel, an original squad choice, when Praveen Kumar withdrew with a poorly foot. Apart from any other factor, Kumar has been India's go-to bowler, having despatched 158 overs in the first three Tests. Singh, whose left-arm swing was impressive in this country four years ago, did not look like a man desperate to bowl 40 overs in an innings as Kumar did at both Lord's and Edgbaston.

Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook settled quickly into their roles. If they were tested it was by Ishant Sharma, who found some semblance of pace and beat the batsmen occasionally as the ball went across them outside off stump. Sharma was easily the best of India's seam trio, which did not make him exactly a rose between two thorns.

He caused the only real discomfiture when his bouncer, rearing awkwardly, hit Strauss firmly on the helmet requiring a replacement. All was otherwise insipid. This was particularly disappointing once more in the case of Sreesanth, who was once a free spirit who made the batsmen and everyone else aware of his presence.

That has gone. The volatility has been replaced by drab uniformity which has seeped into his bowling, the hippie who became a bank clerk. Strauss, in form now, and Cook, never out of it, saw the session merely as a platform on which to build something gigantic. The first boundaries for both of them were streaky, off outside edges, but thereafter they punished the dross which was fed them on their legs and also the half-volleys on off stump. It was the 18th time they had put on 75 or more for England's first wicket and they looked as if there was plenty of power to add.

England, as expected, named an unchanged side from that which won at Edgbaston by an innings and 242 runs. Jimmy Anderson's quadriceps injury had responded well enough to treatment for him not to be considered a risk and the fact that he had a little longer to rest it was also good news for the home side.

They have now gone a record 16 matches since June last year without fielding a debutant. The next one, if mentions in despatches are any guide, will be James Taylor, who scored his second century of the one-day series against Sri Lanka A for England Lions earlier in the week. This is an important match, therefore, for Ravi Bopara. He may have some time to wait yet before his audition for the winter tour.

Oval scoreboard

Fourth Test (First day of five): England have scored 75 for no wickets against India; England won toss

England: First Innings

*A J Strauss not out 38, 74 balls 0 sixes 5 fours

A N Cook not out 34, 82 balls 0 sixes 4 fours

Extras (b1 lb2) 3

Total (for 0, 26 overs) 75

To bat I R Bell, K P Pietersen, E J G Morgan, R S Bopara, †M J Prior, T T Bresnan, S C J Broad, G P Swann, J M Anderson.

Bowling R P Singh 10-3-24-0 (7-2-19-0, 3-1-5-0), I Sharma 8-2-17-0 (4-1-7-0, 4-1-10-0), S Sreesanth 6-0-26-0 (one spell), S Raina 2-0-5-0 (one spell).

India G Gambhir, V Sehwag, R Dravid, S R Tendulkar, V V S Laxman, S K Raina, *†M S Dhoni, A Mishra, R P Singh, I Sharma, S Sreesanth.

Progress First Day: 50 in 15.2 overs, Lunch: 75-0 (Strauss 38, Cook 34)

Umpires S J A Taufel (Aus) and R J Tucker (Aus).

TV umpire S J Davis (Aus).

Match referee R S Madugalle (S Lanka).

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need