England were all over India by the time the first day of the third Test match at Birmingham had ended and it looked like a familiar story for the Indians by the time the day had ended.
Bowled out for 224 in the first innings, India had to contend with the English openers who added 84 for the first wicket without getting separated. With the ball coming on to the bat rather easily, it does look like all England have to do now is to bat four sessions and the game should be theirs for the taking.
Resuming from their score at lunch of 75 for four, the Indians lost three more wickets immediately after the break. Suresh Raina’s travails with the short ball continued, although it was the one pitched fully up to him that got him out. VVS Laxman, as he had done throughout the series, got off to a start, making 30. And then, much like two other times in the series, he pulled a short ball straight to the fielder to reduce the Indians to 100 for six. And when Amit Mishra failed to support his captain MS Dhoni at the other end, getting a nick through to the wicket-keeper, the Indians had lost seven wickets for 111.
It was Dhoni’s counter-attacking 77 that gave the Indians some respite. It would have been personally satisfying for the Indian captain as well, after having failed in the four innings before this. His stand with Praveen Kumar added 84 runs for the eighth wicket and helped the Indians get to a respectable 224 as Broad and Bresnan ended on four wickets apiece.
In reply, the Indians would have hoped for a few early wickets and after tying the English down with three maiden overs, it seemed a like a battle was on. Instead, once the England openers had seen through the initial spell of bowling, there was no stopping them. Both Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook hadn’t got too many runs in the series but seemed absolutely comfortable against the Indian pace bowlers and took 84 off the Indian first innings score. They remained unseparated till the end of play.
India will need to ensure that they restrict the English lead on the second day to manageable proportions or face the risk of being batted of the Test match.