In their plight to become the world’s best cricket team England have to beat the nation that already holds the accolade.
|Jonathan Trott gets England off to a positive start with an important half-century [GALLO/GETTY]|
Despite testing batting conditions, India were unable to make major inroads into England’s top order on the first day of the first Test at Lord’s.
No play was possible after tea due to rain with England finishing on 127 for two after being asked to bat by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The home team would not have been sad to see India’s in-form bowler Zaheer Khan pull up with an apparent hamstring injury.
Khan was comfortably India’s best bowler, claiming figures of 2-18 before he pulled up in the middle of the 42nd over, clutching his thigh.
An India spokesman told reporters that Zaheer was being examined by the team’s physiotherapist and that they may not know the full extent of his injury until Friday morning.
Jonathan Trott was England’s top scorer with a nervy 58 from 104 balls, including eight fours.
Light rain delayed the start of the 2,000th Test in history until 1030 GMT, with India winning the toss and opting to bowl, looking to exploit the overcast conditions.
The ball misbehaved persistently, forcing England’s openers to make a tentative start.
India bowled three successive maidens before England got off the mark when Cook glanced Praveen Kumar for four at the start of the fourth over.
Strauss could then have been run out for just three runs when he set off for a suicidal single to Kumar, but was spared when Ishant Sharma, fielding at mid on, missed the stumps.
The breakthrough came in the 11th over when Cook was given lbw to an inswinger from Khan.
Passing the test
With the umpires unable to review lbw decisions under the revised terms of the Decision Review System for this series it was a brave call by Asad Rauf.
However, the television replays that he – and the capacity crowd – were unable to see, vindicated him, showing the ball would have clipped the top of leg stump.
Harbhajan was brought on 10 minutes before lunch and his first delivery drew an edge from Trott that was put down by Dravid at first slip, to the bowler’s audible disgust.
Having survived a treacherous morning, Strauss (22) squandered his wicket early in an extended afternoon session with a risky attempt to pull Khan and was caught by Sharma at fine leg.
“It was difficult for our bowlers to get used to the swing. Zaheer Khan was the best at it but the others (Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma) lacked his experience and he was a big loss for us”
India coach Duncan Fletcher
Yet while Khan proved both penetrating and miserly, his partners weren’t as effective, allowing England some respite.
When Khan returned after an hour he drew an edge from Trott that flew between Dravid and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni to the boundary – the first runs off his bowling for 34 balls.
However, Khan aborted his run up in the 42nd over and immediately left the field, giving the crowd what appeared to be a farewell wave.
His departure seemed to shift the momentum behind England.
“It was difficult for our bowlers to get used to the swing. Zaheer Khan was the best at it but the others (Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma) lacked his experience and he was a big loss for us,” said India coach Duncan Fletcher.
Trott and Kevin Pietersen (22 not out) put on an unbroken 65 for the third wicket, but with the light deteriorating the floodlights were turned on.
After 10 further minutes play was suspended – before rain began to fall.
If England win this four-match series by two Tests they will displace India at the top of the Test standings.