The India fast bowlers were expected to, hopefully, show their prowess with the red cherry in their hands, while that formidable batting lineup of theirs piled on the runs by letting their bats do the talking. The second day of the first Test against England, though, was defined by two Indian fast bowlers showcasing their skills, not with the ball, but rather with the willow in their hands.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami played a couple of outstanding innings, while putting on a why-won't-they-get-out-say-the-England-bowlers partnership of 111 from 38.1 overs for the tenth wicket, which pretty much shut out the hosts' chances of forcing a win in this Test match.
Staring at a disappointing score below 400 on this painfully slow pitch at Trent Bridge, after a mini collapse of four for two in the post-Lunch session, Bhuvneshwar (58, 149b, 5x4) and Shami (51, 81b, 6x4, 1x6) came together in some style to break England's resolve and take India to a first innings score of 457.
In reply, England saw their skipper Alastair Cook (5, 10b, 1x4) fail with the bat yet again, this time castled by Shami (one for 15), before Sam Robson (20 n.o., 48b, 2x4) and Gary Balance (15, 46b, 1x4) knuckled down and saw their side through to the close of play as the visitors finished on 43 for one in 17 overs, trailing India by 414 runs.
Earlier, India would have gone into the morning determined to see off the first hour without a horrible wobble, like they have managed to do so many times of late away from home, and Murali Vijay and MS Dhoni did that pretty well.
The two batsmen picked up their overnight partnership, stonewalling the England bowlers, who came out of the blocks with a set plan, firm over knocking India off as soon as possible. It nearly worked as well, with Stuart Broad (33-13-53-2) inducing that outside edge from Dhoni, who couldn't help but throw his hands at it, only to see Matt Prior drop the catch diving to his right.
England would pay for that miss, as India hung on, refusing to crumble like a cookie, with Vijay and Dhoni, in particular, dropping anchor. Vijay looked a lot more fluent than Dhoni, and was the main avenue for runs, keeping calm under the England early bowling storm and slowly but surely inching himself towards that 150.
The going was slow, but definitely steady and just when it looked like the two batsmen would take their team to Lunch without losing a wicket, Vijay was at the receiving end of a poor decision. On 146 (361b, 25x4, 1x6) and looking set for a big hundred, Vijay failed to read an in-dipper from James Anderson (38-10-123-3), with the ball smashing onto his inside thigh. In real time it looked really close, and Bruce Oxenford raised his finger thinking there was no way the ball was going above the stumps on this placid pitch, but replays suggested the ball was definitely going over the bails.
India could not be too fettered by that blow, though, and Ravindra Jadeja came in and added a bit of aggression to the innings, taking to Moeen Ali, who was as ineffective as they come, to the cleaners.
Dhoni and Jadeja took India to Lunch on 342 for five, a position of strength from which they could build on and target a score well above 450, but that post-Lunch session curse struck again as England came back with a roar.
India had lost two quickfire wickets in the second session on day one, which derailed their innings a little bit, before Dhoni and Vijay saw them through to the end, and day two was much worse.
In five overs after Lunch, England took four wickets, as India crashed from 344/5 to 346 for nine to put them in trouble again. Jadeja (25, 24b, 2x4, 2x6) was the first to go, throwing his bat at a Ben Stokes delivery from outside off and only managing to find the outside edge to Prior.
The next Stokes over saw England pick up two wickets, as Dhoni (82, 152b, 7x4), just 18 runs short of his first hundred outside the sub-continent, went for an ill-advised quick single and found himself inches short after James Anderson managed a direct hit from mid-off.
Three balls later and Stuart Binny's (1, 11b) first Test match innings ended before it had even really started as the all-rounder threw his bat at a wide delivery, struck it perfectly, but unfortunately found Joe Root at point.
The very next over, Broad, who was parsimonious in figures, even if he would have liked a few more wickets in the bank, sent Ishant Sharma's off-stump cartwheeling, putting England on the brink of ending India's first innings. However, what followed was some outstanding batting from India's No. 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar and No. 11 Mohammed Shami, who, first frustrated England with some dogged batting on this dead as a dodo wicket, before sucking the life out of the bowlers by just plain and simply refusing to get out and stroking a few big boundaries as well.
Bhuvneshwar started the partnership by farming the strike, ensuring he protected Shami as much as possible, with the duo looking to stay as long as possible. Slowly, though, as Shami got comfortable at the crease, the senior partner-junior partner business ended with both the "tail-enders" making batting look like an easy Sunday morning.
Suddenly India were going from a never-gonna-get-anywhere-near 400 position to a let's-see-if-we-can-get-to-500 phase. The 111-run partnership for the tenth wicket was only 15 runs lesser than the alliance between Dhoni and Vijay, highlighting just how good the two fast bowlers batted.
With just one wicket to go for the end of the innings, the second session was extended by half an hour, and instead of playing into England's hands, it only pressed on the torture button a little more as Bhuvneshwar and Shami made merry, before the former finally fell an over before the third new ball was due, holing out to Ali.
However, the job had been done, with Cook's wicket making it India's day, without a shadow of a doubt.