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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert