England's new boy puts down some roots
CRICKET:England can still prevail in this series but after a taut first day it looks as if they may be consigned to winning ugly. On a funereally slow surface England batted all day, sometimes with a hint of paranoia, ending up on 199 for five. But for the situation – a series to be won, history to be made – it might have been very tedious.
England were indebted to one of the old boys, Kevin Pietersen, who scored 73, and one of the new ones, Joe Root, the fresh-faced Yorkshire man who, to general astonishment, was handed his first England cap by Paul Collingwood 45 minutes before the start of play.
Root was unbeaten on 31 at the close, having entered the fray on 119 for four when England’s innings was tottering as ominously as the Christmas Jenga. Steven Finn’s absence with a bad back had been predicted, but the replacement of Samit Patel by Root had not.
However, the notion that the selectors had taken leave of their senses was soon shelved as the red-faced Root calmly accepted the congratulations of his colleagues at the close of play.
Maturity and calmness
Root displayed a maturity and a calmness that eluded some of his team-mates. Even from the start England struggled to find the balance between attack and defence as if the weight of expectation was overcoming the wits of their batsmen, who had first use of the pitch after Alastair Cook won the toss for the first time as Test captain.
Nick Compton looked a tad perplexed when Ishant Sharma banged the ball into the middle of the pitch only to see it bounce twice before reaching MS Dhoni. The next delivery was also short; Compton was seduced into playing it and gave a gentle edge, which this time carried to the wicketkeeper.
There was now a mini-round of roulette with umpire Kumar Dharmasena to the fore. Jonathan Trott survived a concerted lbw shout by Sharma to the consternation of many, especially when a leg-bye was signalled for the ensuing single. Soon after Sharma appealed with equal conviction against Cook and this time Dharmasena raised his finger even though it looked as if the ball was missing off stump.
Slowly Pietersen, playing forward defensives to order, interspersed with the odd boundary, restored the situation alongside the adhesive Trott. By mid-afternoon England had reached their happiest score of the day, 101 for two, albeit at a rate of no more than two runs per over.
The young Yorkshire man Root was composed and well-organised for two and a half hours. On such a sluggish surface his technique was not severely tested, but in this situation his temperament certainly was and he responded encouragingly. It was the most cheering aspect of a fraught day for the tourists.
Broad out Morgan to take over as captain
England Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad will miss next week’s two-match series in India with a bruised left heel, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.
Broad had a scan two days ago and was ruled out of England’s final Test in the series with India. The England board said that the 26-year-old fast bowler will immediately return home for rest and rehabilitation.
Eoin Morgan will replace Broad as captain in the Twenty20 series, which will be played December 20th and 22nd, with James Harris joining the squad.
Harris, 22, will be making his international debut.