London: The 2000th Test match of the cricketing history went England way at Lord’s as the No. 1 Test team’s battered and bruised batting line-up made a meek surrender to an impressive English bowling performance.
Lord’s was packed to the hilt on Monday in a hope to see an enthralling day’s play and also a chance at witnessing a certain milestone related to centuries.
With a target of 458 and starting the day with nine wickets remaining, India were in for a battle of survival but the English pounced on every opportunity which came in their way hunting down India on Day 5 to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series bundling out India for 261 in the second innings.
The statistics read India lost to England by 196 runs on the final day but the encounter was over for India in the first day itself when Zaheer Khan hobbled back to the pavilion with a hamstring injury.
On the final day, Suresh Raina came up with some resistance only to prolong the inevitable English victory before James Anderson had woken up from his four day slumber to rattle the Indian top-order with some quality swing bowling.
Laxman and Dravid had given some hopes of revival early on Day 5 but a lapse in concentration sent the first innings centurion back to the pavilion much before lunch.
Laxman stayed on to complete his career’s 52nd fifty along with a heavily bruised Gautam Gambhir.
An uncharacteristic reckless shot lead to Laxman’s demise as Greame Swann trapped Gauti LBW.
Chirs Tremlett had bent his back throughout the match, and even on the final day, he maintained the pressure ably supported by the ‘Enforcer’ Stuart Broad. The reward of this bowling pressure was well reaped by James Anderson who picked up big wickets at crucial junctures of the final day ending up with a five-for.
England kept on chipping away at the wickets as Indian batsmen kept on nicking even as Strauss kept on dropping dollies at slip.
By tea, it seemed like Dhoni and Raina could salvage a draw but as has been the case with Dhoni who somehow shifts to neutral gear in Tests failed yet again to put up something substantial in his Test resume.
Only Raina stuck it out and for his own good he showed a certain temperament that could cement him a place at number 6.
India depended on its famed batting order, and it failed to deliver on both the occasions while the rather directionless Indian bowling attack was made to toil by Pietersen and Co in the first innings before being clinically dispatched by Prior and none other than Broad in the second.
The complete three pronged seam attack coupled with the No.1 Test bowler, Swann was too hot for India’s liking as the visitors did not even manage a single century partnership in both the innings.
It was a picture perfect match for England, for Stuart Broad, for Matt Prior, for Kevin Pietersen, for James Anderson, all performing on each of the five days of the Test match.
For India, Praveen Kumar lead the way in the absence of Zak with a five wicket haul in the first innings, though he was a shadow of himself in the second. Ishant looked lackluster in the first, came back to life for a brief period in the second. Harbhajan disappointed in the first, continued to do so in the second in the same manner as he had done in the Carribean.
Abhinav Mukund got a start in the first but failed to rectify his mistake in the second which culminated to his demise.
The buzz of the town was Sachin Tendulkar and his centuries but only anguish was what Lord’s could provide, both to the spectators and to the Master himself.
England were the superior side on the 100th Test match between the two countries on all the five days, barring the morning session on Day 4. There was no weak link on display from the English as India kept on dealing with theirs for four days.
It was a team performance by England as Indian team disintegrated into patches at Lord’s.
For Trent Bridge, Zaheer is doubtful and also the form of half of its players whereas England have every right to be arrogant going into Nottingham.