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.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
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

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'