The greenery was not as evident, the swing and nip in the wicket a lot less, but the India bowlers stuck to their task on another absorbing day of Test cricket at Lord's, leaving England, not quite floundering, but a worried lot come the end of day two of the second Test.
After India finished their first innings on 295, England were handed the opportunity on a hot-as-it-gets-in-England day two in London. Alastair Cook forgot how to make runs yet again, but another left-hander Gary Ballance, sober and in control, played a measured, wonderfully executed century to ensure England would not fold quicker than a house of cards, even if India grabbed the momentum with two late wickets – Bhuvneshwar Kumar coming to the fore.
England finished day two on 219 for six in 86 overs, 76 runs behind India, with Matt Prior and nightwatchman Liam Plunkett at the crease, after Ballance and Ali fell late in the day.
India's last-wicket pair did not last too long on day two morning, with Ben Stokes ending Mohammed Shami's time in the middle in just the tenth ball of the day, after the tail-ender found an outside edge through to Alastair Cook at first slip.
So, the onus was on England to show their batting nous in more familiar conditions to them, but it did not begin on the perfect note as skipper Cook (10, 29b, 2x4), yet again, failed with the bat, hanging his bat out to a nice delivery from Bhuvneshwar and finding an edge through to MS Dhoni.
Sam Robson and Ballance had played a couple of gritty innings in the first Test at Trent Bridge, and a battling partnership was needed again with England losing their captain with just 22 runs on the board.
Robson (17, 42b, 1x4) only lasted four more overs than his skipper, though, as Bhuvneshwar one more time induced that outside edge through to wicketkeeper Dhoni. With England on 31 for two, a decent partnership was essential to prevent the cat from jumping on the pigeons and Ballance and Bell did just that taking England through to Lunch.
However, Bell did not last too long after Lunch, as another misjudgement, similar to the one he made in the first Test, saw him loop a catch to the slips with Bhuvneshwar making it three England wickets.
Joe Root, the main man for England with the bat in Nottingham, like Bell, threatened to make a score of note after settling himself down, but fell after a 50-ball 13, albeit unluckily with Bruce Oxenford not seeing an inside edge before giving the batsman out lbw off a skidder from Ravindra Jadeja.
Root's wicket put England on a tricky 113 for four, with India smelling blood and looking to go for the kill. However, Ballance and Moeen Ali -- always batsman first, bowler second -- put on a "man did England need it" 98-run partnership for the fifth wicket to snail England closer to India's first innings score.
The longer the match went on, the browner the wicket got with the sun baking the pitch (well, as much as it can bake in England), and the older the ball got, the better the batsmen looked.
With movement and the Indian bowlers tiring, Ballance, who could have fallen relatively early after seeing an edge go through the Dhoni and first slip, and Ali combined together quite well to frustrate the fielding side. India were just going through the motions really, with Ballance, growing more and more confident, breezing to his century, as Dhoni and co. waited for the new ball to be due.
Such was the desperation that Murali Vijay, opening batsman and very, very infrequent spinner, was brought into the attack by Dhoni. And lo and behold there came the wicket with Vijay getting past the bat of Ali (32, 106b, 4x4) and getting that lbw call going his way – rightly too this time.
That much-needed wicket came a few deliveries before the new cherry was due, and as expected Bhuvneshwar (23-9-46-4), so effective, sent the centurion Ballance (110, 203b, 15x4) packing in the 82nd over of the innings – a little lucky the wicket was, but India will certainly take it, with the left-hander finding an edge through to Dhoni while trying to flick the ball down the leg side.
Those two wickets just before and after the new ball on the fag end of the day give India the edge, an edge they will look to turn into an advantage come day three.