England vs India: Halfway series review

It would be the understatement of understatements to say that the series has been full of action so far, but that doesn't stop anyone from saying it either way.

Such competitive pitches... it could have been so much more than the one-sided whipping it has turned out to be. The first session at Lord's is proof of that. And then, like Dhoni said, everything that could go wrong, did.

The tour began without Sehwag; Zaheer, Gambhir, Sachin, Yuvraj and Harbhajan filled up the sick room pretty quickly, igniting my suspicion that the physio gives them a complimentary paratha or something after each visit.

I reserve high praise for Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma, both of whom have bowled way too many overs than advisable. Ishant has put in 105.2 overs, still fewer than PK, who at 118.3, has bowled around twice as many overs as Harbhajan Singh. More praise, of course, for Dravid, who has scored more than twice as many runs as any other Indian batsman on this tour.

Sachin and Laxman have looked at ease without pushing on; Mukund has, as predicted, been a walking wicket - his initial struggle in the West Indies was a flashing neon sign indicating the same. Yuvraj and Raina have contributed ultimately inconsequential half-centuries. And to round up, Dhoni is having a horror series - he has done absolutely nothing right, in any department of the game. If Sachin and Warne get the fairytale scripts, Dhoni's got this tour's story from Wes Craven (Wiki it).

England, meanwhile, haven't been perfect (but very close to it). Cook and Strauss haven't got going, and Swann has been carted around in his half-fit state. They've been on the back foot one or two times, but they haven't allowed themselves to be backed into a corner - they've counter-attacked with aplomb. Mr. Anderson, Broad Jr. and Bresnan have all got a five-for to their name.

India's second practice game didn't really help them in any way. Gambhir, Sehwag, Raina and Dhoni didn't get the runs, Mukund (who isn't expected to play the third Test) hit a quick hundred. Zaheer Khan, for yet unknown reasons, bowled only three overs. Mishra, the second spinner in the squad, was expensive again, just like in the first practice game. So, don't expect any comebacks, Sehwag or no Sehwag. The two batsmen who can win a Test are the fit and in-form ones - Dravid, Sachin and Laxman. And Ojha must play.

Preferred XI: Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin, Laxman, Kohli, Dhoni, PK, Ishant, Ojha, Sreesanth.
Probable XI: Same, but with Raina and Mishra.

Possibility of India remaining #1 after the next two Tests: see image.