Dravid, Laxman stay firm in pursuit of 458
London: In pursuit of an improbable target of 458, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman played out the final session of Day 4 without any further hiccups after India lost opener Abhinav Mukund early in the second innings on Day 4 of the first Test between India and England.
Going into the fifth day, India would be eying to survive three sessions rather than chasing down the record target. Sachin Tendulkar would only be able to bat after the fall of five Indian wickets or after 2pm on Day 5 as he had opted to rest in the first session of Day 4.
In Gautam Gambhir’s absence, Dravid had accompanied Abhinav Mukund in the middle as Gambhir had a freak injury on his left elbow while fielding at silly point; subsequently going out of the field for treatment. Laxman had then joined Dravid after Broad picked up Mukund.
England had finally declared their innings with a mammoth lead of 457 setting India a target of 458 late on Day 4 as Matt Prior reached his century. Stuart Broad remained unbeaten on 74.
The timely declaration gave the chance for England bowlers to have go at India for about two hours till the end of play.
Prior to the declaration, the final session of the first Test at Lord’s on Day 4 seemed like a practice session as both Matt Prior and Broad toyed with India’s limited bowling attack at will.
Neither of the batsmen had any trouble in the middle as they put on 162-run partnership with the strike rate of 5.85.
The Indian bowling attack of Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma evidently ran out of steam after bowling their heart out in the previous two sessions. India clearly missed the services of their bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan as senior bowler Harbhajan Singh also failed to deliver in Zak`s absence.
Matt Prior’s innings was reminiscent of the many knocks from the best number seven batsman in Test, Adam Gilchrist. Prior’s innings consisted of everything his team would have asked from him. Along with Broad, he in a way made light work of the Indian attack who failed to capitalize on a brilliant spell bowled by Ishant Sharma earlier in the day.
Matt Prior proved his worth for England as both Broad and Prior scored at a rapid pace to help amass a massive lead.
Prior and Broad had stretched the England lead past 350 in brisk time at tea.
Earlier in the day, Ishant Sharma had enjoyed a purple patch as his persistent short pitch bowling reaped reward in the form of wickets of Eion Morgan, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen.
After three quick blows, Eion Morgan and Matt Prior had gone about rebuilding the England innings after lunch.
England went into lunch on a rather precarious situation of 72 for 5 as the first session honours went to India. Ishant lead the resurgent fight back to setup an enthralling passage of play on the 2000th Test match.
Ishant produced a fierce spell of fast bowling to send Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Pietersen back to the pavilion in quick succession ably supported by Praveen Kumar.
England seemed to be in a spot of bother in the morning as Indian bowlers came out all guns blazing on Day 4.
Right from the word go, Praveen and Ishant bend their back on a sunny day at Lord’s. PK edged out Alastair Cook to give India its first breakthrough of the day.
Even Harbhajan Singh who was looking off colour for last two days bowled with intent, tossing the ball regularly picking up the crucial wicket of Andrew Strauss which started a little middle-order collapse for England.
Pietersen, with a double ton in the first innings seemed to carry forward the confidence as he started coming down the wicket from the very first ball itself. But a rising delivery from Ishant caught the flamboyant batsmen off-guard as he edged one to Dhoni.
Sharma followed KP’s wicket with Ian Bell’s in the same over, again off a rising delivery. Sharma, then came back to produce a peach of a delivery, fuller length seaming away from Jonathan Trott to shatter the top of off, to get rid of Trott for 22.
At the start of the Day, England had resumed play with the overnight score of 5/0 as Cook clearly struggled to get going. Andrew Strauss did the bulk of the scoring in the opening overs.
Previously on Day 3, India were bundled out for 286 by England as Rahul Dravid remained unbeaten on 103.