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Shortly before the Indian players boarded the team bus, Zaheer Khan had a brief chat with Vikram Solanki, the captain of England Lions. The discussion centred around the first ball of the fifth over this morning, when a Zaheer bouncer clattered into Solanki's helmet, bruising his left cheek.
Team-mates at Worcestershire last year, the two have known each other for a number of years. It was Solanki who suggested to his county that they sign up Zaheer, a decision that led to Worcestershire being promoted to the first division. It also helped Zaheer regain his fitness and develop into a mature bowler with more variations in his armoury. It was no surprise that the moment the bouncer struck Solanki, Zaheer ran up to him to check if everything was alright.
Solanki faced the media with his left cheek plastered. "I probably won't describe the over as interesting," he said with a grin, "I think there's enough said if you just look at me." Yet, despite the early blow, from which he recovered immediately, he stuck it out to score 60 and ended as the top scorer. It wasn't a flamboyant innings, paling in comparison to Luke Wright's fireworks at the other end, but was important in shoring up the innings at that point.
"Wright was brilliant," he said about his more adventurous partner. "I have had the pleasure of playing with him on an A tour. The batting pretty much went to plan. He struck the ball cleanly and put the Indian bowlers under pressure. It's nice to see them come and do the job straight away against an international team.
"It was a good toss to lose and I think we had the better of the batting conditions. It would have possibly gotten a little harder to score later. It was a slow pitch and would take spin. It would have been nice if we had got the full quota of overs. It's a shame that the weather got us again."
Leaving aside the vicious bouncer, neither Solanki nor Wright had any trouble against India's seam attack. Wright soon took Zaheer apart, in an almost vengeful way, and then turned his attention to Munaf Patel, the most insipid of the trio. "They're coming off a great Test series and it takes a different approach to bowl in one-dayers. I wouldn't at all under-estimate the Indian attack. Even for those who didn't play the Tests, it's their first couple of games on tour. If I was in India's position I'd like to believe they need a couple of good sessions to be ready for the first match."