You can’t get a better venue for a test match than Lord’s after an astonishing game of Cricket at
Edgbaston. Even though England take a lot of pride being the hosts at The Home of Cricket, the
venue has actually favored the visiting teams in recent times. India would have wished for the same
when they arrived in London.
After much debate over the selection of Pujara, he was finally included in the playing XI in place of
Shikhar Dhawan. India went in with another spinner in Kuldeep Yadav along with Ashwin at the
expense of Umesh Yadav. On the other hand, England handed over a young Ollie Pope his maiden
Test Cap in place of a struggling Dawid Malan.
Day 1 was washed out without a single over being bowled. At first, the pitch appeared slightly green
but also a touch dry and looked good for batting. But the overcast weather conditions prompted the
English skipper to bowl first after winning the toss. If you ever dreamt of being a bowler, this was a
day to bowl. And English bowlers exploited the conditions beautifully. The settings were tailor-made for swing and there aren’t many in the world who swing the ball better than James Anderson.
It was a bowling master-class from the 36-year-old. In the first over itself, he sent back Murali Vijay
with a beautiful away swinger, angling in, that pegged back his off stump. KL Rahul knicked one
behind to another out-swinger from the veteran as India were rocked early. To make matters worse,
a horrible mix-up between Pujara and skipper Kohli led to a run out as Pujara walked back leaving
India at 15/3. After a rain interruption, Ajinkya Rahane joined captain Kohli in the middle to form a
gritty 34 run stand. It was tough conditions to bat as the ball swung and seamed off the pitch as well.
Jimmy Anderson kept on asking questions to the Indian batsmen and the ball eluded the edge of the bat on numerous occasions. So far, it has been great fun to watch the Kohli-Anderson battle.
However just as Anderson finished his spell, Virat seemed to have lost his focus a little bit as he
started playing some expansive strokes against the likes of Chris Woakes. After an edge which was
dropped in the slips, Kohli got another beauty from his RCB teammate that took the edge of his bat
as Jos Buttler in the slips finally held on to that one. Virat seems to have prepared so much against
Anderson that he did not mind playing with extra freedom against the other bowlers. But in such
conditions, you can’t afford to lose your concentration at any point. Ajinkya Rahane and Ravi Ashwin then resisted for a while. However, after Rahane’s departure, it was only a downward slide as the Indian batting collapsed to a meager 107 at the end of Day. James Anderson was the chief destroyer as he picked up 5/20. He might not have a great record outside England but one will have to say that he is one of the greatest swing bowlers of all time.
Sun was out on day 2 as it looked a perfect setting to bat. India however, had no choice but to go for
wickets straight-away. The seamers started reasonably well for the visitors as both the openers were
dismissed early. Joe Root and the debutant Ollie Pope put on 45 runs before Pope was dismissed on
a good looking 28. Joe Root soon followed him leaving England at 89/4 at Lunch. Mohammed Shami trapped Jos Buttler in front at the score of 131/5 as India looked to get back in the match. However, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes then stitched together a partnership of 189 to put the hosts firmly into the driver’s seat. While Woakes completed his maiden test century Jonny Bairstow missed out on what would have been a well-deserved hundred. England finished day 3 on 357/6 having a lead of 250 runs.
What a match it is turning out to be for Chris Woakes who came in as a replacement for Ben Stokes!
After a superb bowling performance, he batted magnificently with Jonny Bairstow to put a defiant
stand of 189 runs.
In the hindsight, one will have to say that things have not gone India’s way so far. When the visitors
batted, gloomy weather conditions favored the English bowlers who utilized them quite beautifully.
However, it was a pleasant sunny morning next day which made for great batting conditions.
The Indian seamers bowled alright for India as they picked up early wickets. Mohammed Shami was the most impressive among the bowlers. Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya bowled well in patches.
But the spinners turned out to be quite ineffective. While Ashwin tried his best to trouble the
batsmen, Kuldeep Yadav just bowled nine overs in the day. As the day progressed, India’s intensity in the bowling dropped as they missed an extra seamer.
Although India started well with the ball, the partnership of Bairstow-Woakes duo has made things a lot difficult for the visitors. With the lead of 250, England would look to bat India out of this match and it will be a stern test of Kohli and his boys when they come out to bat in the second innings.