If any proof was needed that this England series is turning out to be a tragicomic one for India, it came when RP Singh was told at the very last minute to strip off his training gear, tie his bootlaces and rush onto the field at The Oval to deliver the first over of the final Test. Now remember, this is RP Singh, a man who played his last Test on a flat track at Motera in 2008. The last time he bowled in a first-class match was in the Duleep Trophy for Central Zone versus South Zone, between January 26-29, where he got just three wickets in the 522-run defeat. This was a bowler who India had pulled out of cold storage, once the full extent of Zaheer Khan's injury was revealed, a bowler who was re-entering the Test arena on the back of delivering 50 overs in 14 IPL matches. (Also Read: RP Singh's selection leaves Gavaskar baffled)
As RP Singh sprayed five out of his first six deliveries onto, or sometimes behind, England's openers' pads, at a pace that made it inappropriate to term him a fast bowler, people began to wonder if this was joke. On match-day eve, MS Dhoni said India were not desperate, or thinking about winning or avoiding defeat at any cost. The way they started today, it seemed they were desperate to avoid playing at any cost.
At the end of the day, RP Singh revealed that Praveen Kumar had pulled out of the Test at the last possible minute. There was nothing in the morning warm-up sessions that suggested RP Singh would play; he was seen striding in delicately, delivering harmless punches at VVS Laxman in the nets. In fact, on the scorecards printed by the ECB, P Kumar was listed as No. 9 under the India column.