Fight follows flight


Something had to give. All morning, whenever the ball came floating out of Pragyan Ojha's left hand, Kevin Pietersen had looked jittery. The first ball of the day had beaten his outside edge. First ball of Ojha's next over, Pietersen had run down the track and missed the ball by two feet as it squirted off his pad down the leg side for four leg byes.

In his next over, Pietersen was almost bowled by a length ball that bounced shin-high. And on and on it went, till Ojha's eighth over of the day.

The third ball of that over was slow and loopy, with a hint of drift into the right-hander, who took a half step forward, unsure of where the ball would land. It dropped shorter than he expected, turned away just enough to beat his groping forward prod, and clattered into middle stump - unusual for a ball beating the outside edge, but Pietersen, for some reason, had taken guard on leg stump.

Having just strutted in, Ian Bell skipped out of his crease, and swung his bat through a graceful arc to clear mid off's head for a pressure-releasing boundary. That, at any rate, was the intention. But the ball turned away, turned his bat in his hand, and spent a long time in the air before dropping into that very fielder's hands.

England had survived nearly an hour; now, they were 69 for five.

On Day One, Graeme Swann had taken four wickets with his stock ball. Now, Ojha was doing something similar, needing no fancy variations while he beat batsmen with guile, spinning his deliveries hard and varying their trajectory. The hat-trick eluded Ojha, as Alastair Cook inside-edged the next ball a foot short of leg slip - but he would soon add two more wickets to bag his fourth five-for in Test cricket as England were all out for 191 in their first innings.

... contd.

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