Mind the clouds
London was baking under hot sun until the Indians turned up. There was even a light drizzle, a bit of pitter patter, and the forecast suggests it might be the theme over the next few days. It’s highly likely that India might go with the same team combination. Jasprit Bumrah is bowling-fit but not match fit yet and needs more time, said Bharat Arun at his press conference. He also said that the reason Umesh Yadav wasn’t effective in the first innings of first Test was because he focussed more on line and lengths than bowling fast. “He is at his best when he is bowling fast.”
Mind the slope
Every time a cricket team comes to Lord’s, the talk revolves around the famous slope on the pitch. There is a slight incline on one side, and it affects different players in different ways. Some like Glenn McGrath loved bowling down the slope, which brought in the ball that much sharper, and when he got one to hold its line, the batsmen would often get in trouble. The ball usually cuts back in with the slope and if you can get one to straighten, you can expect a few edges. Ricky Ponting, who was at Lord’s for a MCC technical committee meeting, said the moment the batsmen started to think about slope, they can get mentally affected. That it was best not to bother about it. On the other hand, Mike Gatting, former England captain, says the batsmen had to adjust. Facing down the slope, even those who used to take a leg-stump guard, would adopt a middle-stump guard as the ball might cut back in. Not sure whether that was the reason but Ravi Shastri could be heard checking the guard of most batsmen. Most of them were indeed taking the middle-stump guard. After enquiring the guard, he would come and stand near the batsman, outside the net, and closely watch the footwork.
Mind the cameras
Hardik Pandya is a bowler who likes feedback from his batsmen in the nets. “Andar aaya na oh? (That one came in, right?) he asks Rahul, who says, “Nahi aaya. No”. Pandya then tries with Vijay. “Did you see that? I changed from an outswing grip to inswing in my run-up.” Vijay, who had withdrew his feet to get away from that delivery that would have crashed into his pad, went, “How can I watch all that?” Vijay was in a pretty intense mood at the nets, requesting a lady with two kids, who were standing right behind his batting net, to please stop taking pictures.
Mind the feet
There was a lot of hectic foot movement in the nets. Virat Kohli’s was the most precise, unsurprisingly. Some of the others didn’t seem so sure. Lord’s allows one to get really close to the nets, and one could watch it all unfold. Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul did a lot of shuffling around, forward and back, but it seemed to be like on treadmill. They would go forward and come right back to where they were; unlike Kohli. Cheteshwar Pujara wasn’t at his best yet, scratching around a bit. If net form was an indication, and it isn’t most times of course, then only Kohli looked at his fluent best.
The kid speaks his mind
Ollie Pope seems a pretty confident young man, if you go by the ease with which he handled the press. One of the coaches who has played a big role in his development Stuart Welch had told this newspaper that Pope is a natural against spin bowling. Asked about R Ashwin, Pope said he has been watching closely. “He’s not your regular off-spinner. He bowls a ball that spins away and one that spins back in. You play him like a normal off-spinner, you’ve just got to watch him a bit closer out of the hand. You need to know what balls coming down at you — you can’t just premeditate an off-spinner like him.