August 14, 2021 2:09:06 pm
The Lord’s does seem to get the best out of him, veteran England seamer James Anderson said after grabbing his seventh five-wicket haul at the iconic venue during the second Test against India here.
Eighteen years after he made his Test debut with a five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe at Lord’s, Anderson overcame an injury scare en route to capping his 31st fifer.
“There’s something that is extra bit special about Lord’s, certainly for me. I do love it here. It just seemed to bring the best out of me,” said Anderson, playing in his 164th Test, at the press conference after the end of second day’s play.
England struggled to get their first wicket till the 44th over after putting India in under overcast conditions and had to turn to Andeson who cleaned up Rohit Sharma (83) with a stunning delivery and also accounted for Cheteshwar Pujara (9) on day one.
He then returned on day two to dismiss Ajinkya Rahane (1), Ishant Sharma (8) and Jasprit Bumrah (0) as India slipped from 276/3 overnight to 364 all out with Anderson claiming his fourth fifer against India at Lord’s.
He also became the oldest pacer to take a five-for in Tests since 1951.
At 39, Anderson is not getting young, but the veteran pacer hoped he would get to play once again at his “favourite venue”.
“The last few times I’ve been here you do think ‘is this the last time I’m going to play here?’ Hopefully, it’s not my last time here or my last time on the honours board.”
On England’s bowling strategy against India, Anderson said they planned to bowl as full as possible without overpitching.
“You tried to bowl as full as possible, but if you missed your length even slightly, it was getting driven.
“I think it was testament to how they batted. Particularly KL (Rahul) and Rohit (Sharma). They put you under pressure. They left well, defended well. They sort of forced you into bowling that full length; as soon as you did it, they punished you.
“I think today it was a case of a little bit of luck as well. KL chipping one to cover and from then on, it was just a case of trying to find that right length without getting too full,” he said.
In reply to India’s 364 all out, England lost opener Dom Sibley (11) and comeback man Haseeb Hameed (0) in successive balls to be 23/2 inside 15 overs before captain Joe Root once again shouldered the batting responsibility with an unbeaten 48 to help the home team reach 119/3 at stumps.
Lavishing praise on his skipper, Anderson called Root “superhuman” for his consistency and backed him to surpass his predecessor Alastair Cook to become the top Test scorer for England.
“Every time he goes out there he is just class. And today he looked class from ball one,” he said of Root who weathered a hat-trick ball from Mohammed Siraj to take the team through an intense post-tea session.
“When you see your captain go out and play like that first up on a hat-trick ball, it does have a really calming effect on the dressing room.”
Root rebuilt England innings with Rory Burns (49) with an 85-run stand.
“Joe’s been amazing throughout his career and his stats in the last 12 months in particular, with everything we’ve been through — the pandemic and everything — it’s been superhuman,� Anderson said of Root, who is also the leading run-getter in 2021.
Anderson also had a word of consolation for his former Lancashire team-mate Haseeb Hameed, who picked a first-ball duck in his comeback Test after nearly five years.
“Cricket can be very, very cruel sometimes. He has worked incredibly hard, did everything right. Hit a stack load of runs this year, he’s looked unbelievable in the nets.
“I do feel for him. He’s got another chance in this game. I’m sure he’ll get a chance throughout the series to show what he can do,” Anderson signed off.
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