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Sunday, September 19, 2021

2nd Test: India sledge hammer England

Spirited lower-order fightback, potent pace quartet and besting the war of words seal memorable Test win for India.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: August 17, 2021 8:29:10 am
India's Virat Kohli, centre, celebrates, after India won the 2nd test, as England's James Anderson, left, the last man out walks from the pitch, on the fifth day of the cricket test between England and India at Lord's cricket ground in London, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. India won by 151 runs. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Eventually, a slower ball from Jasprit Bumrah did the trick. With a resolute partnership between Jos Buttler and Ollie Robinson frustrating India and the mea culpa of a dropped catch writ large on Virat Kohli’s face, Bumrah rolled his fingers over a delivery from around the wicket to trap Robinson leg-before. Richard Illingworth, the on-field umpire, had negated the appeal assuming that the ball had pitched outside the leg-stump, but DRS proved him wrong. The excellent Mohammed Siraj removed Buttler in the next over and the game was done and dusted. With India sealing a memorable 151-run win.

During the 76-ball partnership between Buttler and Robinson that took the second Test into the final hour, it felt like Kohli’s dropped catch could be costly. The India captain had given Buttler a reprieve off Bumrah on two. But this England team aren’t good at grabbing their opportunities; tactically or with the bat. Against a spirited and top-quality Indian side, they duly paid the price.

No praise is enough for the unbroken 89-run ninth-wicket partnership between Shami and Bumrah that set up India’s victory. They were courage and character personified against some hostile bowling and even more aggressive chirping from the England fielders. It was India’s highest ninth-wicket partnership, during which Shami scored an exhilarating half-century. Early on Day Five, the hosts had the game, before they served it to their guests on a platter.

Heat is on

The entire Indian team trooping downstairs at lunch had the feel of a Durban re-enactment; the David Warner and Quinton de Kock stairwell scenes three years ago that captured the two players having a go at each other.

India’s Virat Kohli, centre right and India’s Ishant Sharma, centre left, reacts after the video review of India’s Ishant Sharma’s appeal for lbw on England’s Jonny Bairstow was given out. (AP Photo)

The cricket was attritional at Lord’s on the final day. Tempers ran high, verbals flew thick and fast. Two days ago, Bumrah had battered James Anderson with short deliveries. As the Indian fast bowler came out to bat, England wanted revenge. They targeted Bumrah’s body rather than the stumps. That was where Root missed the plot.

When Rishabh Pant got out to Robinson in the morning, the tourists were just 167 runs ahead with their last recognised batsman back in the hut. Ishant Sharma showed resolve but departed for 16. Shami and Bumrah, with their respective Test averages of 11 and 3, paired up as the end looked nigh.

To start with, Root chose Mark Wood’s pace over Anderson’s mastery, spread out the field with six men in the deep and rib-music on the menu. The pitch-map showed less than 10 per cent of the deliveries during that period targeting the stumps. Not a single yorker was bowled and just two per cent hit full-length. Nearly 50 per cent of the balls were dug in short. The ploy took bowled and LBW out of the equation.

Bumrah didn’t mind. England wanted to intimidate him. He was happy to face the intimidation till the cows came home. On Sky Sports commentary, Michael Holding tore into Root for the tactical blunder. From far afield in Australia, Shane Warne called England’s tactics “terrible” through a tweet, while lavishing praise on the Indian duo.

india vs england 2nd test live Siraj, second left celebrates with India’s Virat Kohli, right after taking the wicket of England’s Jos Buttler. (AP Photo)

Root’s mistake, though, doesn’t undermine Bumrah’s courage. Wood hit him on the helmet, the ball ran down to third man but Bumrah refused the single, belting out to Shami that he wanted to face the bowler again. A stinging four was the response. On the dressing-room balcony, Kohli went ballistic in his applause. Even the normally ice-cool Ajinkya Rahane clapped animatedly.

Tail wags, then stings

For so long, India’s tail has been ridiculed for its virtual non-contribution. However, with plenty of time to practise and acclimatise ahead of this series, the Indian bowlers put their heads down at the nets and worked on their batting. It showed at Trent Bridge. The partnership between Shami and Bumrah at Lord’s was a heartening tale of redemption. At lunch, their team mates trooped down to greet the duo.

After bedding in, Shami started to play glorious cover drives. He was picking Moeen Ali’s length beautifully and reached his half-century with a towering six against the off-spinner. Both Shami and Bumrah put a price on their wickets. Yes, they had their share of luck, but fortune favoured the brave.

Playing nine balls post-lunch before declaring allowed very little preparation time for the England openers and both Rory Burns and Dom Sibley departed without troubling the scorers. For the first time in a home Test, two England openers were out for nought. A brilliant review at the stroke of tea accounted for Jonny Bairstow. But from India’s point of view, it was about getting Root’s scalp.

Pant spilled a tough chance down the leg side off Siraj, when the England captain was on 21. But Bumrah had him caught at first slip with a beauty – the ball coming in with the angle before holding its line. The wicket broke the Poms’ back.

Brief scores:

India: 364 all out and 298/8 in 109.3 overs (Cheteshwar Pujara 45, Ajinkya Rahane 61, Mohammad Shami 56 not out; Mark Wood 3/51)

England 1st innings: 391 all out and 120 all out in 51.5 overs (Joe Root 33; Jasprit Bumrah 3/33, Ishant Sharma 2/13, Mohammad Siraj 4/32).

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