England Fans Made To Suffer
These are the days fans must endure. The days that are talked about as having to suffer through in order to make those victories so sweet. Well, they suffered today.
On arriving at the ground there was talk of a couple of early wickets and possibly restricting India to a little more than 400. Some luck would be required, but it wasn't impossible. Cheteshwar Pujara had other ideas. Along with Yuvraj Singh the first session went wicketless and 87 runs were scored. Eventually Yuvraj played one shot too many and holed out to long on off a ball from Samit Patel that should have gone over the ropes. MS Dhoni was unlucky, bowled via his glove and giving Graeme Swann a deserved fifth wicket. However, when 66 was added for the seventh wicket England's spirit was broken.
Pujara gave a mastercalss. Finishing 206 not out and batting for 130 overs, he has demonstrated how to play on this pitch, but it is a lesson that the England players have failed to heed. The new opening pair looked solid enough to start with, despite Ravi Ashwin being given the new ball. At 26/0 with just five overs left to play, thoughts were turning to a Gabba-esque fightback. After all, India scored 500 on this pitch, so surely England have the batsmen to do likewise? Then Nick Compton left the gate open.
I have never been a fan of the night watchman. It's easy to say that now after James Anderson lasted just six balls, but why ask a bowler to do a batsmans job? The boost India received for grabbing a second scalp took them quickly to a third as Jonathan Trott was caught by bat-pad off Ashwin and despite some intent by Kevin Pietersen, England are facing an uphill task now.
It is hard to think how the day could have gone worse for both the England team and the smattering of supporters who are braving Ahmedabad, a town which offers little to the tourist. The captain is still there however, one man with a proven ability to bat for long periods, and how his team need him to. Likewise the returning Pietersen has much work to do in order to win back the popular support - with a deficit of 480, this would be a very good place to start.