As the clock ticks down

Monty Panesar began his fifth over of the morning, which was the 51st of the innings, England's 141st. Until that point, as he thrust his left foot to begin his run-up, Panesar had gone without reward. None for 73, at 1.46. The spinning ball clipped Pragyan Ojha's elbow guard and squirted on to the stumps. Far from speeding towards his team-mates and missing every high-fiveable palm in sight, the left-arm spinner barely broke into a smile.

In fact, most of his team-mates remained dejectedly rooted to their respective fielding positions. This, clearly, was one partnership that England didn't want to break. Time, or wasting it, was of the essence for England and Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin, mildly put, were no thrifts - doing their job for them.

In the first five overs of the day, the pair added four runs - all penultimate-ball singles by a farming Ashwin. So with half an hour of play gone and Ashwin still unable to find the boundaries, the dressing room hurled out a message in a bottle. It possibly read: 'For god's sake and Dhoni's, get a move on.'

And this is how they did. The so-far-denied single was taken by Ashwin on the very first ball. Ojha blocked the remaining five. It happened again two overs later and nearly again in as many after that, before Ojha broke the pattern by running for a leg-bye off the last ball. Then Panesar was cussed for his 301st ball of the innings. "We were surprised at India's approach," a giggling James Anderson would say later. "It worked fine with us though."

It sure did. Far from showing any sense of urgency on Sunday morning, the ninth wicket Indian pair had occupied the crease for close to an hour for a return of 20 runs. At this pace, just parring England's first innings score - now, a further 14 runs away - would have cost the entirety of the morning session.

... contd.

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