Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Andy Flower, England cricket, Kevin Pietersen, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sanya Michelangelo, Stuart Broad
The much awaited encounter between England and India has brought excitement but so far, the two Tests haven't been hard fought. England couldn't have asked for a better showdown. The clash between these two teams was exaggerated because this will decide whether India will stay on top of ICC Test rankings or if England will overtake them. But, what we have seen at Lord's and Trent Bridge so far has been far from an epic battle of best teams.
India's casual attitude
At Lord's, while England declared in both of their innings (474/8 and 269/6), India were bundled out for 286 in the 1st innings and 261 in the 2nd innings. India have failed to reach 300 in these two Tests. But you don't even need figures to tell you. India's body language has been as if they are thinking, "We just had to come here because we had to. Let's just survive this and hopefully the one-dayers will be here before we know it. We'll get through this. Hopefully the critical Indian fans will be as laid-back as us. Hopefully they'll enjoy their life for once and let us enjoy ours. Our performance shouldn't be taken too seriously, we don't even know how we are the No.1 side when we don't even want to play Tests, we had to lose this spot anyway"
The centre of attention - Kevin Pietersen
However, England's faults cannot be overlooked. Declaring at 474 as soon as Kevin Pietersen reached 200 was an early declaration. Pietersen was in full flow and England would have benefited from his swashbuckling style of batting. England had to come out and bat again, 474 were certainly not going to be enough at Lord's. The difference between scoring the runs in the 2nd innings and the 1st innings is that as KP was at his best, he would have scored the runs in no time. From a spectator point of view, it's always good to see the man score as he entertains as much as anyone can. But this knock also provided relief and happiness. Although, he made 72 and 85 against Sri Lanka earlier this summer, its the double centuries which make us proud of him and prove that he can bat in any way he wants. Sure he performs every now and then, but it's hard to be satisfied with the success of someone as flamboyant and as talented as him. He has the backing up of Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss thus it was great to prove them right.
Of Cook and Broad
This series has seen a turnaround of form as Alastair Cook, who was unstoppable for 10 months prior to this, has seen a slump in form. And the blonde, Stuart Broad, whose inclusion in the Test side has always been met by my fury and curiosity (I could never understand why he was picked!), has been the star of the series. Quite appropriately, Kevin Pietersen was awarded the Man of the Match at Lord's and Stuart Broad at Trent Bridge.
Another attention getter - England's substitute fielder
Another interesting sight was Scott Elstone, England's substitute. Most teams have a 12th man who is close to being picked but not England. Elstone has only played 9 List A matches and 15 Twenty20s for Nottinghamshire. He is 21, but looks no more than 12. He played a role in England's victory by taking two catches. If you are wondering why I'm talking about him, it's because he got a lot of attention as apart from taking two catches, he also dropped one, Praveen Kumar at 1. Alastair Cook and Matt Prior consoled him, which caught Saurav Ganguly's attention, who is an improving commentator.
The controversy which won Dhoni applause
One thing which cannot be neglected about this Test is Ian Bell's dismissal at Tea on Day 3. He assumed it's Tea before the umpire called so, and started walking off but since ball was still in play, the Indians took the bails off. Eoin Morgan and Ian Bell waited near the boundary rope as the on-field umpire handed the decision to the 3rd umpire. He was declared out. The English were hit by a jolt when all was going well and obviously were not happy. There was a clear air of despair in the England balcony. During tea, Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower went to the Indian dressing room and requested the Indian captain MS Dhoni and coach Fletcher to withdraw their appeal. And their request was not turned out by Dhoni. Having seen the circumstances on TV, I do think what Dhoni did was incredible. But, in my view, Bell should have been given out as it was his fault. After tea, there was a lot of confusion as the commentators and the crowd did not know who took the decision to call Bell back. It could have been the umpires.
There is a lot of time for the 3rd Test, which starts on August 10 so we have time to ponder upon these selections, performances and the controversies. See you later!