CHENNAI: If you were an Indian fan turning up at Lord's for the final day of the second Test, you may have been pinning your hopes on Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah to play starring roles with the ball.
They did play starring roles, but it was their entirely unexpected contributions with the willow that scripted a remarkable turnaround in India’s favour on a nerve-racking day of Test cricket bristling with high drama and flaring tempers.
India’s world-class pace attack then operated in unison and put the finishing touches to help them register a 151-run victory and take a 1-0 series lead.
The target of 272 for England was merely academic as they were bundled out for 120 with 8.1 overs left in the day.
Shami and Bumrah put together an unbroken stand of 89 runs for the ninth wicket before breathing fire with the ball in hand on a memorable day for India.
The partnership helped Virat Kohli’s boys declare their second innings on 298/8 just after lunch. It left the Indian bowlers with 60 overs to get the ten England wickets, and it was sufficient time in the end.
Shami scored a career-best 56 not out, a couple of stylish flicks thrown into the mix, while Bumrah chipped in with an unbeaten 34.
The Indians had gone into the fifth day fretting over their prospects of saving the Test, but worry turned into unbridled joy as a result of Shami and Bumrah's exploits with the bat. The baffling tactics of England captain Joe Root in the morning session did not help his side’s cause.
And when the turn came for Shami and Bumrah to deliver with the ball, they steamed in with sustained intensity. The duo got down to business right away, removing both the England openers for ducks.
They extracted extravagant movement in helpful conditions and looked incredibly potent in fiery new-ball spells.
The wily Ishant Sharma too came to the fore, claiming two scalps to reduce England to 67/4 at tea. Joe Root was still standing for England at the tea interval, but the first over from Bumrah after tea saw the prolific run-maker return to the dressing room.
Mohammed Siraj was perhaps feeling left out until then but soon joined in on the act. He induced the outside edges of both Moeen and Sam Curran off successive balls in the 39th over to put India within touching distance.
Buttler and Ollie Robinson resisted India’s charge for 75 balls, but Bumrah got the breakthrough once again. He peppered Robinson with a couple of bouncers from round the wicket before pitching one up and trapping him plumb in front.
The win was capped off by Siraj removing Buttler and James Anderson in the space of three balls to finish with four wickets in the innings.
India's dominance on the final day wouldn’t have transpired without Shami and Bumrah's spectacular efforts with the bat. The two leading protagonists joined hands in the 90th over of India’s second innings with the score on 209/8.
With the lead at that stage just being 182 runs, the visitors seemed resigned to setting England a modest target below 200.
Shami and Bumrah, though, had other plans. Over a 90-minute period before lunch, they were aided by the fact that the hosts veered away from the line of attack that was working for them all along.
Mark Wood, in particular, resorted to bowling short balls and seemed keener on exacting revenge for the barrage of bouncers that Bumrah delivered to James Anderson on Day 3. While the tactic was fine
for a brief period, the fact that Root opened up the field and allowed the two lower-order batsmen to pinch singles was hard to fathom.
Shami and Bumrah weathered the storm and countered the bowling with some feisty cuts, wristy flicks, wild slogs and ironic forward defences.
There were heated words exchanged between the Indian pair and the England players to add to the drama, but the confrontation only seemed to spur Shami and Bumrah further.
Shami's disdainful six off Moeen to get to his half-century was the icing on the cake.