The last Indian pacer to take six wickets in an innings at Lord’s wore shirts with flappy collars, loose-fit pants and generously oiled his hair. Amar Singh was a cricketer of the black-and-white era, who travelled to the home of cricket on a ship, in 1936. As an international team, India itself was fresh off the boat in the world of Test cricket, with that being the country’s second tour of England.
Singh surprised the English with his unpleasant bounce to take 6/35. But that didn’t stop them from showering him with praise. The England great Wally Hammond’s description of an Amar Singh lifter was as flattering as it was imaginative. “He came off the pitch like the crack of doom,” he said.
Almost eight decades later, Bhuvneshwar Kumar got on the honours board with figures of 6/82. Like Amar Singh, he takes the new ball and gets wickets too, but his deliveries come off the pitch differently. They graze the surface and dart around. The English crowd love watching swing bowlers and Bhuvneshwar has been a star around here.
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“It’s definitely a good feeling to do well at Lord’s,” Bhuvneshwar said after taking four wickets on Friday. He would take two more on Saturday morning to ensure England’s tail doesn’t wag much.
“I have been watching Test cricket at this ground since I was a child and this is something I have been looking forward to for a long time.”
Like his fellow exponent of swing from Meerut’s Victoria Park, Praveen Kumar, who took a five-wicket haul here in 2011, Bhuvneshwar’s action doesn’t see any major change as he varies the movement of the ball. A mere flick of wrist is all it takes to send the ball where he wishes to. An easy action and short run-up means he doesn’t get tired after long spells.
That’s the reason he has been Indian skipper MS Dhoni’s go-to man in this series. In two innings, over two Tests, he has bowled 61 overs. After bowling three tiring spells on Day 2, Dhoni threw the ball to him at the start of the day. Since even a tired Bhuvneshwar had got rid of Gary Ballance, the key man for England in the final session on Friday, Dhoni had hope from his new ball bowler.
Once again Bhuvneshwar stuck to the same plan of bowling to the stumps. “We learnt from the English bowling on day one and we saw that they bowled too short at times. So we watched and learnt what lengths to bowl,” he said.
It paid. Ben Stokes was clean bowled and Stuart Broad edged in the slips. Two all-rounders, who could have extended the innings, fell to the swing bowler. England’s lead was restricted.