India v England commentary
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Last Updated: 13/12/12 11:22am
An enormously strange day of Test cricket, in which Cook fell early and India's best bowler was Ravi Jadeja. Pietersen played a restrained and crucial hand of 73 on a pitch that offered no assistance to anyone - batsman or bowler. Prior and Root have steered England out of the murkiest of waters but it's been slow going all day long. Probably India's day overall having lost the toss, but we won't really know for another 24 hours at least I suspect. We shall surely learn more tomorrow; join us bright and early for that.
There have been 480 dot balls - or 80 overs' worth if you prefer. Root delays the 481st with a pull to long-leg, while Prior makes it back-to-back non-dots with a dab to third-man. Three more dots to end the day as Root's defensive technique proves solid to the last.Ravi Hairdeja back into the attack. Root blocking for the close. A thick inside edge brings Root a single to go into the 30s. Been slow going since he raced to 10 off 11 balls; the last 20 runs have taken another 94.Dhoni's standards just slipping late in the day as another Ishant delivery fails to carry and ricochets off his glove to third-man for a bye.Lee Williams: "Where do you rate Matt Prior amongst the very best in the world? Overall wicketkeeper batsman I know he's had his criticism from pundits in the past but he is proven he can be rated amongst the best if the best in the world?" I wouldn't swap him for any other currently active keeper-batsman in world cricket. His batting has always been of genuine top class and the improvement in his wicket-keeping over the last five years is an incredible testament to his work ethic. He is, along with perhaps Cook and Pietersen, the least replaceable player in the England team.Get on with the game! Delay now while Dhoni has a bit of a neck massage. During the drinks break tomorrow morning the Indians will be having full spa treatments on the outfield.Class from Prior, giving himself a bit of room and cutting Ojha past short third-man for four. England inching towards 200. If at some point tomorrow afternoon they're inching towards 300 then they'll be starting to feel a tad more comfortable.Finally Ishant gets a go with the new(ish) ball. Prior guides him to third-man for a single to make it 29-all in the thrilling race with Root. The Yorkshireman is beaten outside the off stump, which is apparently the 462nd dot ball of the day. The 463rd is not far behind.Prior punches down the ground for a single as Ojha overpitches, as mediocre-haired men are prone to do. Still 24 minutes of this left to go.Jadeja getting through his overs so quickly that by the time I've come out of a hair-induced reverie Ojha's bowling again. Ojha, with his flat, lifeless and uninspiring hair.Not sure how we'd have got through today without Jadeja's hair, to be honest. I really don't.Ravindra Jadeja is taking the new ball in a Test match. Truly these must be the end times, albeit heralded by a man with truly flawless hair. Not sure I've made it clear enough today just how good that hair is.India take the new ball. Now young Root will see what Test cricket is all about: Ojha steaming in with a brand new nut in his hand. Prior gets a single. Root sees out the rest of the over. No obvious cause for excitement in that first over of new-ball action.Prior drives a very full delivery from Ashwin behind point. Ojha gives chase from third-man, the sort of chase where the fielder half-hopes the ball will beat him to the rope but realises that, alas, he is going to have to deal with it. Down he goes like a roll of lino, flicking the now almost stationary ball back just inside the rope as the batsman trundle through for three runs. Root's legside nurdle brings him another run before Prior pinches the strike with another.Chawla drags down a short ball, which seems to catch Root somewhat by surprise before he finally shovel-sweep-pulls it to long-leg for a single. Prior adds another with a cut before the last ball of the over beats everyone, going through Dhoni's legs on its way for four byes. He's not the most graceful or elegant of keepers, but on a tough pitch Dhoni had actually been nice and tidy before that blemish.A deft reverse-sweep off Ashwin brings Root two more before he nurdles to leg for a single. If he can play out the remaining 45 minutes he can be well pleased with his first day as a Test cricketer. He's looked more secure at the crease than anyone - Pietersen included.Lovely shot from Prior, getting low and playing that slap-shot drive that both he and Pietersen deploy so well when spinners offer width as Ojha does here. Four runs.The Nice Little Sit Down is over. Ashwin bowls an over. Prior gets a single off it. I'd be surprised if there were more than 13 overs in this last hour even with the spinners on. There is a good deal of sauntering going on.India's players having a lovely sit down while the drinks car comes on. There were 17 overs in the hour since tea, and India seem intent to bank some of that 'credit'. The umpires walk over to India's players and the drinks car. The car drives off. Reports that Dharmasena has given it out lbw as yet unconfirmed. Seven minutes since the last delivery was bowled.Root calmly plays out a maiden from Ojha as the game meanders to the drinks break like a chap taking an afternoon stroll in the park.Root moves to 23 with a single off Ashwin, who has been something of a forgotten man today. No new ball as yet.The new ball is now available. Not sure Ishant is terrible interested in doing anything with it just yet.A hold-up in play while Dhoni does something or other to his boots and pads and hi-viz sporting subs jog onto the field with drinks. There's a drinks break in 10 minutes. Still, shouldn't be too grumpy given the excellent over-rate produced by India's spin quartet.Ashwin bowls just his ninth over of the day. He is genuinely on the way to becoming a batsman who bowls. Two singles off it.Root into the 20s with a pushed drive past extra-cover as Ojha overpitches. This effort now ranks as a 'Khawaja' on the debut innings scale I've just invented.RUNS! Prior clips Ishant to long-leg for a single and Root adds two more through the offside. He opens the blade again to guide the ball through point for a single.I'm just going to stop typing anything at all when there's a maiden. I've run out of words.From sublime to ridiculous in Barnet terms as Ishant Sharma returns to the attack. He starts his spell with... a maiden.Jadeja has his 11th maiden. I should've known better than to mock someone with such a head of hair.England may have a Problem Number Six Position, but there are no such concerns at number seven. Prior slaps a wide half-volley from Chawla for four. This partnership may only be worth 17, but it's already the sparkiest of the innings.One doesn't like to get overexcited about prominent debuts - lead that kind of caper to the Australians - but young Root certainly looks like the very ideal sort of chap for Test cricket. Thick inside edge brings him a single, and Prior adds another to keep the strike. England have dried up Jadeja's maiden supply: he's still stuck on just 10 of them, the brilliant-haired idiot.Root, meanwhile, continues to look the part in his first Test innings and brings up England's 150 by working Chawla through the legside for three runs.Thick inside edge brings Prior a single. For most of the Trott-KP partnership things looked serene for England. India deserve some credit for ensuring that things never got away - or even threatened to get away - from them during that partneship. It's allowed them to take control now.A slightly dangerous but ultimately well-played cut shot from Prior brings two runs. Root ends the over with a well-judged leave that's about two inches away from joining Trott's brainfade club. Fine margins.Time for a Prior rescue mission. He's up and running straight away with two to third-man and a block into the legside for one. Four mistakes from batsmen and one from an umpire have allowed an undeserving India back into this series. Poor from England today.Now England are in more trouble even than me and my sodden, fizzing laptop. It's another desperately poor dismissal as Pietersen fails to heed the afternoon's warnings and miscues Jadeja to midwicket where Ojha takes the catch. So he's been dismissed by two left-arm spinners there. Demons. Tame as the end was, shouldn't detract entirely from a fine innings, without which England's current mild peril would be the very depths of despair.Disaster. England may think they've got problems out in the middle, but I've just sprayed Coca-Cola all over my laptop. I think there were two singles in that over. Touch wood, the laptop is still functioning, albeit with some sticky keys.Pietersen starts the evening session by thrashing Jadeja through the offside for four before surviving a huge leg-before shout as he squeezes the ball between bat and pad. Almost impossible for an on-field umpire to give that, but it was certainly straight enough and, with replays suggesting pad first, DRS may well have seen KP on his way.Nervy times for England. India have got their team selection wrong but have kept themselves in the hunt through a combination of tight, consistent bowling and England's curious reticence and nervousness on a pitch that is undeniably unhelpful to flamboyant strokeplay. Pietersen has batted superbly in those trying conditions, while Trott Trotted his way serenely enough to 44 before misjudging a straight ball. Bell was awful, Root's looked confident in the 11 balls he's faced in Test cricket so far. However tricky the pitch, England need first-innings runs, and they will need the bulk of them to be scored by this pair and Prior. The tourists are not in a bad position, but are only a ball or two away from being in real trouble. Precarious.Pietersen hammers Chawla through the offside and gets a hard-run two before picking up a lucky single as he gets an inside edge on a googly that he didn't pick.Don't know what game Root's been watching, but he should realise that batting on here is so difficult that unless you're a genius like KP then scoring runs is off the agenda. He's looking busy and searching for opportunities to score. This won't do. A neat clip off the hip brings two runs before a sweet square-drive produces Root's first boundary in Test cricket.First Test runs for Root, and pleasant ones they are too as he strides out and drives Chawla through the covers for three. Pietersen jogs a leisurely single, and Root pinches the strike with a guide to the left of point.Twenty-six maidens before tea on day one. Twenty-six!Root survives his first ball in Test cricket. Cook and Bell's contribution today is two runs from 56 balls. The pitch is difficult, but it's hard to work out quite why England's run-rate is so very, very low. It's keeping them under pressure.Bell's series of terrible self-inflicted dismissals continues as he pathetically pokes a drive to short-cover off the returning Chawla. Two unforgivable dismissals in this session have allowed India to not only stay in the game but probably get their noses in front. Debutant to come and - in these conditions - a long tail after Prior. Danger times for England.Jadeja bowls his 10th maiden of the innings. England just letting him bowl, and it's just starting to become silly.India continue to rack up the maidens. Ishant this time to Pietersen, who tries a couple of times to find a tip-and-run single but can't put the ball into the gaps that are available on the offside while India look to catch Pietersen in their legtrap.Jadeja's ninth maiden in his 15 overs as a Test bowler. England do get four runs from the over, though, as the last ball finds its way to the fine-leg fence via Bell's pads.India's seam attack back on for another burst. Almost gets the breakthrough as well as Pietersen flicks into the legside where there are two men in quite close catching. Looks like this one's bounced just short of Pujara, who didn't cling on in any case.Jadeja may not be getting much (or any) turn, he is varying his pace rather nicely. A couple of times it deceives Bell in this over, but England's number five survives.It was clear in Ojha's last over that KP was itching to get after him, and this time he does so by launching a glorious drive over extra-cover and away for four. Pietersen dances down the track next ball but rather telegraphed it. Ojha sees him coming and drags the ball shorter forcing Pietersen to grudgingly play defensively.Bell plays out a maiden from Jadeja, who is being compared by Nasser to a young Gower. It's mainly the hair. The beautiful, magnificent hair.Pietersen plays out a maiden from Ojha despite looking like he wants to thrash every ball into neighbouring towns.Bell off the mark in Pietersenesque fashion, tapping the ball towards mid-on and scampering through. Pietersen keeps the strike, knocking the last ball of Jadeja's over to a deep-set mid-on.Lovely stuff from Pietersen, advancing to Ojha and whipping him wristily through midwicket for four. Mid-on briefly but wrongly thought he had a chance of cutting it off.Jadeja could take 200 Test wickets (he won't) and not get a softer one than that. Trott seems to have lost the knack of going on to big scores after getting a start. It is an unwelcome development. Ian Bell is the new batsman, and he starts with a couple of forward defensives. Better than his choice in Ahmedabad.Horrible misjudgement from Trott. Maybe the curse of the drinks break, who knows, but for some reason he's decided to leave a ball on off stump from Jadeja, who hasn't turned a ball all day. This one doesn't turn either, and back goes the off stump. Jadeja has his first Test wicket, and it's a gift.Thirty-one forty-ninths of the overs today have not been maidens. Trott sweeps Ojha behind square-leg for four to bring up England's 100 and take the partnership to 85 runs. It looks like a very important partnership right now as the players take drinks.Three eighths of the overs today have been maidens.Seventeen forty-sevenths of the overs today have been maidens.Jadeja returns with a maiden. More than one third of the overs today have been maidens.One third of the overs today have been maidens. Stat. Fraction. Fractostat.Ashwin stuffs one down the legside and Pietersen somehow gets the face of the bat on it to glance it away to the boundary and reach his 50. Splendid innings in difficult conditions. A single apiece for Pietersen and Trott on the legside as Ashwin continues to get his line wrong, and this pair are doing a fine job for England.Ojha replaces Ishant. Pietersen plays that inexplicable and awful 'defensive' shot that he occasionally finds irresistible against left-arm spinners, where he plants his front foot on the line of leg stump and then follows the ball with an S-shape twist of the hands. The best possible result is that he misses it, as happens on this occasion. An altogether better shot, glanced away past short third-man brings a scampered three with Trott safely home despite a direct hit from the deep.Couple of half-hearted appeals against Trott from Ashwin, one for lbw and one for caught-behind down the legside. No, and no. Another full, wide delivery to end the over, and Trott once again leans into it and strokes it away rather pleasantly to the cover-point boundary.A couple of gorgeous drives from Pietersen in this over from Ishant. The first is well stopped by a tumbling mid-on, but the second is a slice of high-elbowed perfection that splits extra-cover and mid-off and races away for four. Low bounce not much of a problem with the half-volley.Pietersen flips Ashwin to long-leg for a single. Trott shovels the last two balls of the over into the legside but can't find gaps.Chance! Just barely, but Ishant still posing problems. Trott almost drags a ball into his stumps and then chips towards midwicket where a leaping Che Pujara just about gets a fingernail to the ball. Pietersen gets a single off a thick inside edge to end the over. Better line from Ishant in this over. He wants to bowl straight - understandably given the low bounce we've seen - but has been a bit too much on the legside of middle since lunch. Off stump's the line, and that's where he is in this over.A very full, very wide delivery from Ashwin gives Trott the chance to free his arms and thread a drive between point and cover for four. England's flirtation with the magical two-runs-per-over mark continues.Trott's just played the duck-late-cut. Good to see him looking to expand his game. Years of ducking and swaying when faced with a short ball are hard to manually override, but the batsmen must try and get the message through. Trott actually does well to adjust here, realising the ball is looping slowly through the air towards him as he gets halfway through his initial evasive maneouvres and instead flicking out the bat to dab the ball to third-man for a single.This partnership is, if my Statsguruing is correct, the slowest 50 stand Pietersen's been a part of in Test cricket.Paul Collingwood, who when not presenting debutants with Test caps is doing commentary for the host broadcaster, has just tweeted a prediction that this Test will be over on day three. "The pitch is like a dried-up riverbed." If this is to be a three-day Test, then England aren't in too bad shape really. Pietersen gets a thick inside edge for two off low-bounce Ishant before whipping a full delivery off the pads for four. A couple of singles take England back up to two an over.Ashwin starts things off after lunch, and Pietersen flicks the last ball of the over into the legside for a single.Our man in India, Mike Atherton, gives his take on England's choice of Joe Root in the Problem Number Six Position: "I'm sure they would like to get that position settled. Hard to think why Root has been picked ahead of Bairstow, unless they think JB is a work in progress against spin, and in the absence of Patel they want a few of Root's overs of off-spin. It was certainly a surprise here, none of us really getting an inkling until very late the night before the game. Feel a bit sorry for Bairstow given the way he played against South Africa at the end of the summer. but the selectros have not been afraid of putting untried players in for big games - think of Trott in the Ashes 2009."Latest prices from Sky Bet have India as favourites at 5/4 with England 7/4 and the draw 11/4. Pietersen and Trott are each 5/6 to be the next batsman dismissed, with the former 5/2 to make a century and the latter a shade bigger at 11/4. Head to skybet.com for a full range of in-play markets.Difficult morning session for England after winning the toss, with Compton nicking off early, Trott surviving a close lbw shout and Cook perishing to a not-very-close lbw shout. India have got the balance of their attack wrong, though, and have had to persist with several overs of non-threatening overs of spin and only a couple more from Ishant after his double-wicket burst as Trott and Pietersen have slowly but surely (against the spin quartet at least) rebuilt.A combination of Pietersen's tendency to play with high hands and the low bounce in this pitch see a couple of balls coming off the toe of the bat as KP exaggeratedly plunges hands and blade down towards the scooting ball. Gets a single for the second of them which is no bad thing. He's struggling against Ishant at the moment. Trott again achieves the seemingly impossible in managing to duck underneath the ball as it makes its way through to Dhoni on the third bounce. More reverse swing has Trott groping uncertainly forward and keeping the ball out via inside edge and pad.Maiden over from Ashwin. No way any of the other three spinners could've bowled that over.Ishant back into the attack finally, and again he's got Pietersen in trouble as England's number four attempts a drive on the up with a huge gap between bat and pad. An inside edge finds pad rather than stumps, luckily for Pietersen, while there's a definite hint of reverse-swing for Ishant in this over. Bresnan and Anderson will like seeing that. Based on this session, we've got a day here where four spinners fill in some tight overs to allow the strike bowler Ishant a rest. It's a bizarre bowling attack in any conditions, but on here India have just got their selection wrong.Just as we started to think that maybe R Ashwin was now officially a batsman, here he is to do a bit of bowling in the 30th over of the innings. Trott sweeps for a single and then a two either side of a Pietersen punch down the ground to long-on. Say what you like about the nonsense of a four-man spin attack, it does do wonders for over-rates. Thirty overs in the can and still over 10 minutes until lunch.A pleasing cover-drive brings Trott three runs. Chawla bowling too wide of the stumps. Trott and Pietersen both happy to leave unless he gets the length wrong, as he did with that half-volley that was driven.The brief, giddy dalliance with a run-rate of two an over now mercifully a thing of the past. Got quite light-headed for a while there. Back down to 1.89 now. Dig in.Trott plays out a maiden from Chawla, who thus far looks about as threatening as you'd expect a man whose 10 first-class wickets this season have cost over 50 runs each to look. More Salisbury than Warne.Fifty up for England as Jadeja drags the ball down and Pietersen whacks it through the offside for four. Run-rate rockets up to two an over. Despite the many maidens, appeals, oohs, and aahs, there's actually very little in this for the spinners so far. Ishant by far the most threatening bowler, but his workload needs to be managed with him being the only seamer. Luckily, though, all those spinners are showing just how needed they are. Ashwin yet to bowl.Pietersen doubles England's post-drinks run column as he muscles Chawla over mid-on for a couple of boundaries before cutting the last ball of the over to deep point for a single.Pietersen finally gets a drive through the offside field and picks up three runs, which is precisely one-third of the total runs in the 10 overs since drinks.Pietersen gets a single to long-off. But it's not the nonchalant "I can just drill the ball down there all day" kind of single to long-off that professional cricketers play with such indecent ease, but more a frantic, swishy "Crikey where can I get a run, I could try hitting this through midwicket and, ah look, I've got a sort of leading edge to long-off for a single, that'll do" kind of single to long-off.Another maiden. India have set good fields here, and I'm not sure England are entirely sure what best to do about it. Without wishing to go down a dreary WE'RE DOOOOOMED! kind of road, this is all feeling a little bit UAE. Which hasn't been the case since the first innings in Ahmedabad.Chawla into the attack. England historically play leg-spin as well as an octopus plays the sousaphone, so every chance of some entertainment here. Four-and-a-half years since Chawla last played Test cricket, so he's had quite a wait for this moment. He's surely thinking just how worth it the wait has been as Trott nurdles him to leg for a single.Five maidens in the last six overs now. I've lost count, but I think there have been 23 appeals in that time.Jadeja trundles through a fourth over. Just the two specialist spinners yet to have a bowl.Maiden over from Ojha to Pietersen. Packed offside field, and Pietersen can't find a way through it.Jadeja almost drifts a non-spinning ball through Trott's defences. England's number three wearies of prodding and poking, and skips down the track to club the next ball down the ground for four. Not the most elegant of hits down the ground, but an effective one.Perhaps based on the Cook lbw earlier, Ojha has taken to appealing for lbw every ball despite Pietersen's front pad being closer to the bowler than the stumps by the time he plays his lunging forward defensive.Jadeja's second over in Test cricket is a maiden. His hair is magnificent.Trott's played a couple of excellent sweep shots this morning, and connects well with another one here to pick up four off Ojha. He adds a tight single despite smart work from Jadeja and the third umpire being asked to check Pietersen made his ground. He did. By a yard. That'll be drinks, and a question: is it just me who can only say Ravindra Jadeja's name to the tune of Korean Bodega by the Fun Lovin' Criminals?Promising start to the "Will KP be brilliant or infuriating today?" game, as he whips through midwicket for three and then whacks a four down the ground as Ravindra Jadeja's first over in Test cricket costs eight runs.This is the sort of pitch and situation where Pietersen will either score a century the magnificence of which could make a statue weep, or get out playing a shot so staggeringly stupid that it makes you angry enough to punch a hole through the world.Not sure KP's been watching in the dressing room. Ishant bangs the ball in short and Pietersen looks to drop the hands and sway out of the way before realising the ball is nowhere near high enough. He adjusts and plays a rather good defensive shot in the end before looking at the pitch with the sort of wide-eyed confusion with which a puppy might greet a quadratic equation. Pietersen off the mark at the end of the over with a suspicious pull.Huge wicket for Ishant as perennial century-maker Cook falls for just a single, but it's a horrible, horrible decision from Dharmasena. Ishant bowling from round the wicket and pitches the ball on middle but doesn't get the ball to straighten. It's already outside off stump by the time it hits Cook's pads and was only going further away.Trott sweeps Ojha for four. The spinner has posed no threat whatsoever this morning. It's almost like one seamer isn't quite enough.Phil from Northampton: "Morning Dave. Great write, smacks of a man without belief of anyone actually reading it. This will be a tougher test for our boys but I fancy a win by runs not wickets. This will be an interesting first hour."Ishant obviously looking to bowl straight here but gets this one just slightly wrong and Trott clips him away for two to fine-leg. Trott then manages to duck under a short ball, which is a good effort on here. Could easily see a batsman lbw ducking here. Close! Huge leg-before shout against Trott, and it's desperately close. The ball just nips back from outside off stump to hit halfway up the shin. Certainly hitting the stumps but maybe, just maybe, outside the line. Umpire Dharmasena shakes his head but that could easily have gone the other way. In DRS terms, probably an umpire's call for point of impact.Watching the early stages, you feel Finn is a big miss for England here. Someone tall bowling back-of-a-length into those cracks might be close to unplayable in a couple of days' time with that lack of bounce. Anderson and Bresnan are skiddier bowlers, so the low bounce perhaps less of a shock and therefore threat to batsmen.First shot of real authority this morning as Trott drives Ishant straight back past the bowler for four. The next ball is outside off stump and another chance for Dhoni to practice taking the ball on the half-volley. Batting already looks pretty difficult when the ball hits the right/wrong side of a crack. Early and obvious prediction: this will not be a draw. Don't see anyway England can "protect" their 2-1 lead on this pitch. It's going to be 2-2 or 3-1, probably by Sunday.Cook and Trott both off the mark with singles. With England a wicket down and scoring at under one run an over, Dhoni goes on the attack by deploying only three fielders on the legside boundary for Cook (1 off 17).Bally: "What's the point in India bringing parwinder awana into the squad and then not playing him? Sharma did nothing in the last match and should have been replaced." Three spinners plus a handy part-time spinner is surely a spinner too many. I know little of Awana, but surely you'd want two seamers. Maybe Dhoni and India had forgotten you sometimes lose the toss.Compton will be disappointed with that dismissal. Banged in so short from Ishant that he really needn't have played at it at all. Jonathan Trott is the new batsman, and he's greeted by a good olf-fashioned pea-roller that is mercifully outside the off stump. Five takes for Dhoni in that over, and the only one on the full was the wicket.Ishant strikes! After a bang-in ball bounces five yards short of Dhoni, Ishant to his credit tries again and this time finds both the outside edge and just enough carry for Dhoni to tumble forward and get his gloves underneath the ball.Is this a quiet start or a cagey start? Or even a careful start? One can never really be sure. Compton gets his and England's third single with some more tip-and-run scampering from the final ball of Ojha's second over.Matt Walton: "Well chuffed for joe root. Comes across as a nice guy. Good batting technique and expert fielder. The very best of luck to him." England certainly like him; if he gets any runs at all here the Cook comparisons are going to be unavoidable. A youngster who's been groomed for Test cricket for a while now. Bowls a bit of spin as well, which may have been a factor in his leapfrogging of Morgan and Bairstow.Ishant doesn't adjust his line for the right-hander, and Compton tucks him away on the legside for a single.Pragyan Ojha shares the new ball. Nick Compton gets the first run of the match with a quick single to mid-on.Ishant generously bowls an opening over mainly consisting of length balls outside off stump for Cook to watch. They don't bounce very much.And we're all set for the first over of the day. Ishant Sharma gets the new ball. Be a rum do if he didn't given the make-up of India's attack. First proper look at the pitch: crazy paving.Do you remember when England had a Problem Number Three Position? Of course you do: it lasted about 15 years. Fair to say they now have a Problem Number Six Position. Morgan, Prior, Patel, Bairstow, Bopara and Taylor have all had a go there this year. Root will therefore be England's seventh number six in 15 Tests.Are you awake? Well done. Celebrate that fact with an email to Dave.Tickner@bskyb.com with any thoughts on the selection choices the teams have made, or anything else that takes your fancy. For purely selfish reasons, I wanted England to pick Meaker so I could say "Finn is out, the Meaker shall inherit the berth". I was so pleased with that bad pun that I've told you anyway. PLEASE LIKE ME, I CRAVE YOUR ACCEPTANCE.India, then, go with just one seamer. Not ideal when you lose the toss. MS Dhoni admitted he would have liked to bat on a pitch that looks dry and cracked, with India's skipper saying he expects it to spin and offer the chance for reverse swing. Looking at the Indian line-up, the only person other than Ishant Sharma who bowls a bit of seam-up is Dhoni himself. Maybe he should take the new ball, give the gloves to someone else...AN Cook (capt), NRD Compton, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, IR Bell, JE Root, MJ Prior (wk), TT Bresnan, GP Swann, JM Anderson, MS Panesar.G Gambhir, V Sehwag, CA Pujara, SR Tendulkar, V Kohli, RA Jadeja, MS Dhoni (capt, wk), R Ashwin, PP Chawla, I Sharma, PP Ojha.Root in for Patel, Bresnan in for Finn. India go for Chawla as third spinner and Ravi Jadeja, who keeps scoring triple-centuries in the Ranji Trophy, at number six. Two debutants at number six in this Test match.Alastair Cook calls right! Alastair Cook calls right! Truly all things are possible. England win the toss and bat first for the first time in the series.Surprising news from Nagpur this morning is that Joe Root has been presented with his first Test cap by Paul Collingwood. If you want to be mean, you could call that two surprises but I'll hear no such talk. The Brigadier is a fine man. It doesn't say much for the form of Samit Patel, Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow that a rookie opener has been picked ahead of them to bat at six. Let's all try and avoid the Root-Cook comparisons as the 21-year-old makes his debut in Nagpur. At least until he scores a century. In other news, it looks like Tim Bresnan will replace Steven Finn who has gone down with back knack. That is a blow for England. Finn was excellent in Kolkata, and Bresnan just hasn't been the same bowler since his elbow surgery. As for other team news, I dreamt last night that England dropped Graeme Swann which shows a) a frankly unhealthy obsession with work and b) that my subconscious is an idiot. As for India, who knows? Probably Ajinkya Rahane in for Yuvraj Singh, and perhaps Piyush Chawla - a man whose name sounds like and body resembles a cuddly cartoon character - as a third spinner.Morning everyone. England are on the brink of achieving something that not many touring sides achieve: Test series victory in India. The superb victories in Mumbai and Kolkata have given Alastair Cook's side a 2-1 lead as the England captain returns to Nagpur, the city - if not the ground - where it all began with a debut century in 2006. If his side avoid defeat here, it's a city he's going to have quite a bit of time for.