Kevin Pietersen helps England close on 199 after poor start to Fourth Test

England 199-5:  Latest report from the fourth Test between England and India

Nagpur

England discovered today  in the Fourth Test that the series victory they crave against India will take patience, caution, guts and luck.

The tourists, 2-1 ahead in the series, finished the first day of the crucial final match on 199 for five, which is probably neither as bad as it sounds nor as good as it should have been. Kevin Pietersen, now as reintegrated as it is possible to be, was the top scorer with 73.

But after his departure the day was crucially seen out to the end by England’s surprise debutant Joe Root and the ever dependable Matt Prior, who shared an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 60.

Pietersen’s innings was at odds with almost all his other contributions as a Test batsman, his slowest of 51 scores above 50, played as if chipped from granite bit by stubborn bit. But like several of his colleagues, Pietersen was out in a moment of carelessness, chipping to mid-wicket, perhaps because a low, slow pitch could simply never be trusted.

The conclusion was also difficult to avoid that England’s innings suffered badly from the early dismissal of their captain, Alastair Cook. They have become accustomed to his enduring presence at the wicket throughout the series and when he was given out to a highly debatable lbw decision with the dew not yet cleared off the outfield they were in unfamiliar territory.

England’s team announcement was astonishing. Root, the 21-year-old Yorkshire batsman, was selected for his debut in place of Samit Patel. But he was also preferred to the middle order batsmen, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan, a considerable slight as Root came on this tour as an opener.

Whatever the reasons for his selection — perhaps because he can play spin bowling, perhaps because he bowls reasonable off breaks himself — he did not let England down. There are more viable positions in your maiden Test than to enter the arena on 119 for four but Root looked unflustered. Indeed, he looked the part.

He cover drove his third ball in international cricket for three and crisply placed his 10th firmly through mid wicket for his first boundary. These were the assertive strokes of a man who was at home. After that it was important that he stayed to the close and he duly accompanied Prior without alarm.

India had selection surprises of their own, bringing in Piyush Chawla for his third Test and his first since 2008, and Ravi Jadeja for his debut. It meant their bowling attack comprised one seamer and four spinners.

Losing the toss for the first time in the series did not make such a balance ideal but they were about to demonstrate that it hardly mattered. In the fifth over Ishant Sharma, the sole surviving fast bowler had Nick Compton edging behind one that lifted.

And then came the wicket that all India both wanted and needed. Cook was playing his usual waiting game, aware as always that crease occupation equated eventually to runs on the board.

He appeared to have moved his pad outside off stump when Sharma appealed for lbw. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena had already spared Jonathan Trott on similar grounds but now, to a nation’s delight, he raised his finger. A review of the decision would have reprieved Cook but the system is not being used in this series.

A period of rebuilding, of standing and staring, was necessary for England. Trott and Pietersen provided it and took England to lunch and beyond. Eking out runs on the surface was barely straightforward but their stall seemed to be set out for the day.

In a lapse of judgement, Trott then shouldered arms to Jadeja’s left arm spin and saw the ball go straight on to clip his off stump. For his fourth innings of his five in the series so far, Ian Bell’s stay was all too brief.

He looked ready to dig in and wait for the runs to come of their own accord. But his drive at Chawla went low and unerringly to short extra cover and Bell’s shake of the head for most of his journey back to the pavilion told its own story.

The difficulties presented by the pitch were easily discerned because of the way Pietersen approach his business. India cut off several run-scoring avenues by posting five men on the boundary but still he frequently found it difficult to formulate attacking shots.

There was the occasional vintage drive down the ground and the odd leg side whip but his innings took an untypical 188 balls. It was one of the latter strokes that ended his innings as he tried to exert his authority.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore