Bikash Mohapatra reports from The Oval, on the first day's play in the fourth Test.
For a team low on confidence, it is imperative to get off to a good start. It can lift the spirit.
Team India's case was different.
Going into the opening day of the fourth and final Test against England, the visitors had lost their best bowler, Praveen Kumar, to a thumb injury. His replacement, RP Singh, hadn't played a Test match in 28 months, and to expect instant results from him seemed a tad too far-fetched.
There was a surprise in store at the toss as well. Andrew Strauss, having called correctly, opted to have a bat first -- a somewhat surprising decision considering the conditions at The Oval were overcast, as expected.
However, England's captain had confidence in his batsmen. The same couldn't be said about his Indian counterpart though.
MS Dhoni's bowlers were a tired lot. No wonder he had expressed his desire to bat first and put up a good total on board on the eve of the Test. True to form, the Indian bowlers did precious little in the first hour.
Ishant, Sreesanth and RP had neither speed nor direction. Strauss and Cook were never really tested. The duo started on a cautious note before slowly freeing their arms. There was a free flow of runs thereafter and the 50-run partnership was achieved in the 16th over -- a record 31st 50-plus stand for the pair, 27 of those having come for the first wicket.
The home team had made 75 without loss at lunch (26 overs). Strauss was batting on 38 and giving him company was Cook on 34.
That was that, as persistent rain prevented further play during the day.
Play was called off before the last official inspection scheduled for 1710 (local time).
The Indian think tank has a lot of work to do now to prevent the home team running away with the match.