Taunton: India witnessed the worst possible build-up to the first cricket Test against England after Somerset reduced the visitors to an embarrassing 138 for eight in their first innings on the rain-marred second day of the three-day practice game here today.
Replying to Somerset`s 425 for three declared, the famed Indian batting line-up, including star batsman Sachin Tendulkar, failed miserably on a featherbed wicket to trail Somerset by 287 runs with just two wickets and full days play in hand.
Standing at the slip cordon, England skipper Andrew Strauss, who made 78, would have been delighted to watch from close quarters the annihilation of India`s batting stars, many of whom were returning to cricket after a seven-week hiatus.
Left-arm pacer Charl Willoughby, who once played two Tests for South Africa in early 2000, ripped apart the Indian top-order with figures of five for 50 to give Somerset upperhand in the warm-up game ahead of the first Test, starting July 21 at Lord`s.
If Willoughby accounted for the top four Indian batsmen, it was 19-year-old Craig Meschede who got the prized wicket of Tendulkar, which was also his maiden first class scalp.
Openers Gautam Gambhir (21) and Abhinav Mukund (18) failed to give a decent start to India as they departed by the first 10 overs at the team score of 51 for 2.
Gambhir flashed at a wild delivery of Willoughby to hand over a catch to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, while Mukund departed just after tea to a leg before wicket shout of the same bowler.
India in tatters at 138/8 against Somerset
The 35-year-old Willoughby then gave himself an extended run and claimed Rahul Dravid (17) and Yuvraj Singh (0) in consecutive overs. While the former uncharacteristically chased a delivery to the slips, the latter fell to leg before wicket.
After having bowled 12 overs on the trot and adding four wickets to his astonishing first class tally of 808 wickets, Willoughby finally gave away the ball to Meschede, who dismissed Tendulkar off his fourth delivery.
The South Africa-born pacer induced an edge from Tendulkar which wicketkeeper Buttler had no problems in pouncing.
Tendulkar himself had his moments of anxiety during his short stint. He survived a confident leg-before shout on naught and again on 18.
Tendulkar did hit a few meaty drives which warmed up the packed stands who had thronged to see the great man in action on a gloriously sunny afternoon.
Wriddhiman Saha then wasted what could turn out to be his only visit to the middle on the tour. He played a Peter Trego delivery with an open face straight to Buttler behind the stumps.
Zaheer Khan made a few wild slashes before he lost his stumps to a sharp incoming delivery from Alfonso Thomas.
Willoughby did come back to the bowling crease in search of his fifth wicket and was not to be denied when Amit Mishra (6) mistimed a push into the hands of the covers.
Left-hander Suresh Raina, however, was desperate to utilise this opportunity, pulling and driving with aplomb to remain unbeaten on 30 when stumps were drawn.