London, July 23: Nevermind that he couldn't get a single wicket on Day 1 of the first Test in India's ongoing England tour. Indian pacer Praveen Kumar made serious amends on Day 2, proving that he not a competitor to be trifled with. Indeed, just when it seemed like he had emptied his bag of tricks, he came up with a quintet of rabbits out of a hat. His maiden five-wicket haul was the lone bright spot on an otherwise mediocre day for the visitors.
While the English batting order pummeled much of the Indian attack, Praveen reminded the opponents that he was not going to back down even in adversity. The line was tighter, the swing more prodigious and awkward for the batsmen. Even while his fellow pacemen Ishant Sharma was subjected to the flaying of his life with a brutal Kevin Pietersen holding sway, Praveen ensured that at least a slight fight was on.
Testimony to his defiant performance was that no matter how much of a roll Pietersen was on, the batsman stayed well within the crease while playing Praveen's deliveries. The consistency of Praveen's accuracy in bowling his inswinger and outswinger had Pietersen constantly trying to second guess him. But all the momentum that was built up by Praveen was sadly frittered away by a clunky Ishant Sharma.
Praveen's 6"5' pace buddy had bowled all of two balls in the whole of Day 2 which forced the batsmen to play in line with the stumps. Otherwise, his line and length was atrociously off, as Pietersen pulled and cut him with disdainful ease. Meanwhile, Praveen showed that he could befuddle and bemuse the batsmen with such guile and precision that on two occasions through the day, he knocked back two wickets in one over.
With Zaheer Khan training hard to overcome his hamstring strain and return to the attack, let's hope that England's second innings, if indeed there is to be one will, induces a transformation in India's hitherto beleaguered bowling unit...