England all friends again as Kevin Pietersen swaps texts and tension for fun in the field
India A 369-9 v England XI: Bowlers toil against India A but Bresnan says Pietersen return is 'business as usual'
Kevin Pietersen passed his first test in his "reintegration" process with no alarms yesterday with his team-mates claiming his return to England colours against India A in Mumbai for the team's first tour match amounted to mere "business as usual".
Pietersen took to the field for his adopted country for the first time since being dropped for the final Test at Lord's more than two months ago, following his summer of discontent − his rancour over a parody Twitter account, his "provocative" texting to South Africa players and his wrangles over contracts.
The 32-year-old's route back into the national team has been a tortuous process, involving face-to-face talks with management and senior players and a public show of contrition for his controversial behaviour.
But, as far as watchers from the sidelines could see, the South Africa-born batsman's re-introduction was seamless. He even got himself on the scorecard, taking a catch at gully to dismiss Ajinkya Rahane off the bowling of Tim Bresnan early in the day.
Bresnan, reflecting on a taxing first day out of three in England's tour opener at the Brabourne Stadium, confirmed it had been "the same old Kev" and nothing more than normal.
The Indian No 6, Manoj Tiwary, top-scored with 93, after Yuvraj Singh and Abhinav Mukund had both also hit half-centuries, as the hosts flourished despite three hard-earned wickets each for Bresnan, part of a three-man pace attack, and Graeme Swann, who was the more successful of the spin bowlers.
As for Pietersen's controversies, Bresnan said: "It's pretty much business as usual. I don't suppose you'd be able to see from the outside looking in... that it's anything than normal. I'm pretty sure most of the lads in the dressing room were expecting it to be like that – and that's what it was like. For the lads, it's nothing different to having any player come back into the squad who's been missing for a while."
It is already well documented that Pietersen's return has been achieved only after a series of meetings with Alastair Cook, who is captaining his first tour as full-time captain.
"Everyone in the know has sat down and spoken about it," added Bresnan. "But apart from that, for the rest of the boys, I guess it's just like having someone who's been injured coming back. There's nothing exceptionally different. He's the same old Kev – energy in the field that he showed today, all day. He's just Kev. It's been good."
Bresnan had to bowl 20 overs, once Steven Finn managed just four before limping off and leaving England with only two front-line seamers. "Obviously, we're disappointed one of our fast bowlers had to go off," said the Yorkshireman. "But it's one of those things where you just have to step up a bit, and each of you has to take on his responsibility."
The inclusion of Samit Patel in the starting line-up has given the Nottinghamshire all-rounder the first opportunity to nail down England's troublesome No 6 batting spot. The 27-year-old, who played his only two Test matches this spring in Sri Lanka, would give Cook an extra spinning option.
But the first part of his trial did not go well as the Indian batsmen took 95 runs off his 20 overs – an economy rate of 4.75 runs per over. Despite the wicket of Suresh Raina, he will need an impressive score to offset his abject bowling and see off competition from specialist batsmen Eoin Morgan and Joe Root.
Nick Compton looks the most likely candidate to fill the opening slot vacated by the retired Andrew Strauss for the first Test in Ahmedabad on 15 November after his inclusion in the line-up. Stuart Broad, not included for the Mumbai match but likely to come in for the four-Test series at the expense of Bresnan, will vice-captain the side for the series.
As is the wont of many of this side, the Twenty20 captain took to social media to express his delight at having the opportunity to help Cook lead the side in his first tour as full-time captain.
Writing on his official Facebook page, Broad said: "It's is a long time since England won a Test series in India, so we know it's going to be tough."
Injury woe for England: Finn faces a fitness fight
Steve Finn is a doubt for the first Test against India after limping off the field on the first day of the tour with a thigh injury yesterday. The paceman managed just four overs against India A and is expected to have a scan to determine the cause of the problem in his right leg. Finn will hope to recover in time for the Ahmedabad match on 15 November.
Kaneria appeal to be held in December
The Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria will have his appeal against a life ban for corruption in English county cricket heard in Britain in early December, a source close to the former Test player said yesterday.
Kaneria, 31, was banned for life from playing in Britain after an England and Wales Cricket Board disciplinary panel ruled last June that he had been involved in spot-fixing.
Tafazzul Rizvi, a legal advisor to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), said the board had been informed of the hearing.
"Basically under ECB rules it will be a fresh trial and hearing in which there will be a reappraisal of witnesses and Danish can produce fresh witnesses as well," he said.
The PCB has suspended Kaneria from domestic cricket pending his appeal hearing.
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