India’s Praveen Kumar wrote his name onto the honours board at Lord’s on Friday, taking career-best figures of 5 for 106 to help limit England to 474 for eight on day two of the first Test.
On an otherwise grim day for India, who reached 17 without loss at stumps, the 24-year-old Kumar kept England in check when it appeared the home side might build an unassailable first innings total.
“It was a dream to play here,” Kumar said. “It felt nice, the weather was nice, it was a good feeling. After taking the fourth wicket I was very confident of getting the fifth.”
Playing in only his fourth Test, Kumar responded brilliantly to the challenge of replacing the injured Zaheer Khan, bowling with controlled aggression for 40 overs while his fellow bowlers struggled to make an impact.
“It wasn’t a question of pressure,” he said. “It was just a question of motivating myself. I liked it and I’ve been bowling 30 to 35 overs in domestic cricket as well.”
He appeared to be exchanging friendly banter with England’s Kevin Pietersen and slightly less friendly banter with the Edrich stand at one point, but Kumar dismissed this as “just chit-chat.”
Pietersen, who made 202 not out, paid a warm tribute to his Royal Challengers Bangalore teammate.
“We were just having a laugh,” he said. “He’s a really good friend. I captained him for a year and he never listened to me! He’s a fantastic, skilled bowler and if there’s one bowler in the India team I’d like to get to five wickets it’s PK.”
Kumar will steal the headlines, although for some of the innings his efforts were partially eclipsed by an unexpected bowling cameo from his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Dhoni was pressed into emergency service after his leading bowler, Zaheer, injured a hamstring on day one.
He bowled the first 40 minutes of Friday’s afternoon session and was twice close to dismissing Pietersen.
Dhoni’s very first delivery prompted a huge shout for lbw, which Billy Bowden turned down, but in the next over Bowden raised his crooked finger when Dhoni apparently had Pietersen caught behind.
Pietersen asked for a review and the decision was overturned when replays showed the ball had flicked the pad.
“I had to review that, I can’t get out to Dhoni,” Pietersen joked. “That was difficult, really, really difficult to get through. He got the ball to swing both ways and nip, he’s just a very talented man.”
It would be an understatement to describe Dhoni’s first-class bowling experience as limited.
In 57 previous Test matches, he had bowled just three overs, for 19 runs, though he did claim a wicket in a one-day international against the West Indies in 2009 when he bowled Travis Dowlin. Cricket365