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India may miss another fast bowler, says Mike Atherton, after day one of fourth Test in Nagpur

Athers' Blog - 4th Test, Day 1

Mike Atherton told Sky Sports that India made an error by only selecting one seamer for the fourth Test with England in Nagpur.

The hosts, who must win the game to draw the series, restricted the tourists to 199-5 on day one, with right-arm quick Ishant Sharma nailing the early wickets of England skipper Alastair Cook (1) and his fellow opener Nick Compton (3).

But Atherton reckons MS Dhoni will regret heading into the decisive contest at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium with a solitary paceman - spinners Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and the recalled Piyush Chawla make up India's attack - when the "deathly-slow" pitch begins to aid the bowlers.

"Dhoni quickly realised if you put out ring fields and the batsman is not scoring, he will lose his patience."

Mike Atherton

"India will be slightly happier with things at the end of day one," he said.

"There is a slow outfield and deathly-slow pitch and I can't think of a pitch in recent times where there has been less bounce than that on the first day of a game for seamers with the new ball.

"But I have had a chat with (former India opening batsman) Sanjay Manjrekar and he says he has not seen a pitch as cracked as this on the first day.

"The cracks widened out from two days before the game to the morning of it, and towards the back-end of the game you would think the ball has to do something, so it is a mistake, in my view, that India only have one seamer."


Atherton thinks England's batting total - which was accrued at a rate of just above two runs an over - is better than it appears, and says Cook's charges will be content if they can push their way up to around the 300-run mark.

And the Sky Sports pundit also believes that India's touch players, such as Sachin Tendulkar, may struggle to flow when they wield their bats on the turgid batting track.

"199-5 is a bit like 260-270 on this surface," said Atherton.

"Jonathan Trott's wicket came from nowhere, while Ian Bell was on one from 27 balls and then, as soft as you, like drove to extra cover.

"And while Kevin Pietersen played really well and with a good deal of self-restraint, he doesn't like grinding out runs and snapped.

"So you can point to those three dismissals but you will get them here, particularly when the opposing captain sits back, as Dhoni did.

"The pressure is on him to try and force the issue but he quickly realised if you put out ring fields and the batsman is not scoring, he will lose his patience.

"So you are often thinking above 400, towards 450, is a good score in India but I don't think that is the case on this surface and if England got anywhere near 300-350 I think they would be reasonably happy.

"A couple of India players - Virender Sehwag and Dhoni - can make a mockery of conditions, but I think the more orthodox players in the line-up - Gautam Gambhir and, these days, Tendulkar - will not find it easy to score fluently."

Atherton concluded. "It was a snail-pace day; usually you would look at a scoreboard and say 190 runs in a day was boring but it wasn't, as wickets fell at reasonably regular intervals and there was quite a bit of tension."

Hit the video above to hear more of Athers' thoughts on day one.

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