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Wagging tail, Rahul's hundred and red-hot pacers: A Test to cherish for India at Lord's

While the visitors will be jubilant with their batting efforts, this victory was a flawless one, with Kohli and co's absolute team effort trumping above their rival's individual performances. 

Published: 17th August 2021 07:37 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th August 2021 07:37 PM   |  A+A-

India's Virat Kohli, centre right and India's Ishant Sharma, centre left, reacts after the video review of India's Ishant Sharma's appeal for lbw on England's Jonny Bairstow. (Photo | AP)

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Heading into the second Test at Lord's, India were in a better state of mind after their strong showing in the rain-curtailed Nottingham encounter, where a day five washout robbed Kohli and co of a win.

For visiting teams, a five-day game at the 'Mecca of Cricket' is always seen as an opportunity to decide the momentum of bilateral series against England.

India before this match had made 18 Test appearances at this venue. While they tasted victory only thrice, their last clash here in 2018 ended up in disappointment as they got bowled out twice for under 150, while suffering an innings defeat of 159 runs.

Members of the Indian cricket team line up to congratulate India's Mdohammed Siraj, at right after he took the wicket of England's Jos Buttler. (Photo | AP)

This time however was to be different and what a famous win it has proven to be.

The visitors will be jubilant about their openers' form and with th fact that Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara managed to silence their critics once again. Kohli and co's absolute team effort trumped their rival's individual performances. 

Let's talk about some of the biggest takeaways for India from this game:

Another memorable opening act:

By putting up a 97-run opening partnership in the first innings of Trent Bridge Test, both KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma made their intentions clear. A similar story followed at Lord's too.

Winning the toss, Joe Root asked the visitors to bat. While the home side could have put up runs on the board, they decided to trust the overcast weather instead, despite their new-ball attack being weakened by Stuart Broad's absence.

But Rahul and Sharma carried on in the same vein from Nottingham. 

They respected the conditions in the first hour, leaving as many deliveries as they could.

With no breakthrough in sight for the first 15 overs, England pacers started erring in line and length, giving Rohit the chance to free his arms. 

India's KL Rahul plays a shot off the bowling of England's James Anderson during the fourth day of the second Test between England and India. (Photo | AP)

While the duo stayed for 43.4 overs and added 126 runs for the first wicket (A rarity for India in Tests at the Mecca of Cricket), it was Rohit who went after the bowlers, scoring 83 runs in 145 deliveries (11 boundaries and a six).

After a brilliant Anderson in-swinger disturbed Rohit's stumps, Rahul took over as a senior partner in the next three partnerships with Cheteshwar Pujara, skipper Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. 

He went on to make 129 runs off 250 deliveries (12 boundaries and a six) in his second outing at the iconic venue.

India's Rohit Sharma, right smiles as he talks to teammate India's KL Rahul after taking 4 runs off the bowling off England's Sam Curran. (Photo | AP)

He even denied strike to Kohli, who came at a score of 150-2, after Anderson removed both Rohit and Pujara in a brilliant spell. Being fully aware about Kohli's poor record against the England legend, the Karnataka batsman decided to see off the remaining overs till tea.

The move did wonders as in the final session of day one, both the batters forged a 117-run third-wicket partnership and gave India a position of ascendency by the end of day one at 276/3.

India's 'Fearsome Four' turn the tide

In response to India's 364, England got off to another horrible start, with opener Dom Sibley and number three Haseeb Hamid getting dismissed off consecutive Mohammed Siraj deliveries, leaving their team at 23-2. The other opener Rory Burns didn't fare any better as Mohammed Shami trapped him lbw for 49 at the fag end of the day two. 

It was skipper Root again, whose unbeaten 180, with help from Jonny Bairstow (57), allowed England to gain a 27-run first innings lead. Again, a lower-order collapse meant the home side's fightback did not turn into a huge advantage.

While Siraj (4-94 in 30 overs) bowled his heart out, with each of his spells causing some trouble for the home side, Ishant Sharma's efforts (3-69) resulted in the collapse on day three of the final session. Shami too chipped in with two scalps, with 33 extras becoming England's fourth highest scorer.

India's Jasprit Bumrah, centre, celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of England's Joe Root caught by India's Virat Kohli. (Photo | AP)

Despite claiming nine out of ten wickets in England innings, Bumrah and co's watershed moment came on day five.

A 272-run target on a surface with uneven bounce and dangerous swing under overcast conditions forced the hosts to target the 'Draw' option by playing out the last 60 overs of the match.

However, both Sibley and Burns failed to open their accounts. Hammed and Bairstow could manage only 11 runs between them as Ishant's in-swingers got the better of their poor footwork. 

Starting at 67-4 after tea, England were dealt another setback when Root was caught behind for 33 while edging a Bumrah delivery.

India's Mdohammed Siraj celebrates after taking the wicket of England's Jos Buttler during the fifth day. (Photo | AP)

Siraj then ran through the tail, dismissing Buttler (25), Ali (13), while handing Curran a 'King Pair' (Zero in Both Innings) and knocking down Anderson's stumps.

Had it not been for the 29 extras (mostly wide in-swinging deliveries ending up at legside boundaries), India might have achieved the feat of bundling out their rivals below the 100-run mark.

England lose mental battle too

As number eleven Anderson came out to bat at the fag end of day three, with a well-settled Root eyeing another double ton, Kohli decided to give the short-ball treatment to the England legend. Bumrah seemed to be the perfect man for the job.

Anderson received a few body blows, including a one on his helmet, before his torturous 16-ball duck was ended by Shami's in-swinger.

What followed next was an unpleasant sight. A clearly hurt Anderson (ego wise) gave a piece of his mind to a grinning Bumrah, while heading back to the dressing room. It left everyone craving for an Anderson vs Bumrah clash during India's second innings.

The opportunity came on day four, but it was Kohli who began by telling Anderson "this is not your f****** backyard" before starting his duel with England legend, almost giving the vibes of Aussie legend Michael Clarke's promise to deliver Jimmy a "broken f****** finger" during the first Test at 2013/14 Ashes at Gabba.

India's Virat Kohli, right, celebrates catching the ball to dismiss England's Joe Root during day five. (Photo | AP)

However, with Bumrah and Shami coming together on the 22-yard strip with India at 209-8, just 182 runs ahead, Root and co decided to go for the short-pitched stuff while also directing verbal spats at the duo.

They even risked injured Mark Wood, who landed on his shoulder awkwardly the previous day while fielding, for this purpose.

It backfired as India came up with a decisive 89-run ninth-wicket partnership on a surface, which was deteriorating fast in overcast conditions. This ensured a high adrenaline rush in the Indian dressing room.

Facing the task of surviving 60 overs, England had to deal with a vociferous Indian crowd and a chirping Kohli, along with aggressive Indian pacers. The stump mike even caught the Indian skipper telling his opposition that it was not a slam-bang white ball game.

And this got under the skins of Root and co as they ended up losing the game by 151 runs. While out-of-form Sibley and Burns couldn't handle the pressure, even a skilful customer like Root found it to be too much as he ended up giving a regulation slip catch to Kohli. The rest of the batting surrendered meekly, giving India its third win at the iconic venue.

Pujara, Rahane regain their moorings

Heading into the Lord's, both the middle-order stars were under severe pressure, with the talk centred around their poor form since the 2-1 series victory against Aussies earlier this year.

In second innings, the visitors managed to dig themselves into a hole as they were left reeling at 55-3, while the lead was just 28. Both Pujara and Rahane were out there in the middle again.

The duo forged a 100-run fourth wicket partnership, playing a waiting game while weathering the storm unleashed by the home side's pace attack for most part of day four.

Pujara had to face another Anderson test, as his off stump got tirelessly attacked, with a slip catch landing in front of Root. The right-hander decided to not only to see off Jimmy's extended opening spell in first session, he went on a 34-ball blockathon before opening his account.

India's Cheteshwar Pujara hits runs off the bowling of England's Moeen Ali during the fourth day. (Photo | AP)

While Mark Wood opted to spray him with bouncers, with several close-in fielders waiting for that one opportunity. Puji still looked stoic as he kept on ducking and avoiding them, with his first boundary coming only after 118 deliveries.

While his knock of 45 in 206 deliveries may not seem vital at first glance, it stopped the hosts' pacers from tearing apart their rival's middle order on day four itself.

Rahane, who has a history of contributing in India's overseas Test victories in the last seven years, lived up to his stature this time around too. 

India's Ajinkya Rahane hits England's Moeen Ali for 4 runs during the fourth day. (Photo | AP)

Changing his off-stump guard to more towards middle and off this time around, he played a handy innings of 61 off 146 deliveries. 

These knocks turned out to be gold dusts on a surface where 12 wickets fell on the final day.

Tailenders arrive to the party in style

Resuming day five at 181-6, after securing a 154-run second innings lead, the responsibility of keeping England pacers at bay was on wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.

While he started the day in blazing fashion, stepping out and thrashing Anderson for a boundary over the cover region, a Robinson away swinger ended his knock at only 22. The lanky pacer left India reeling further at 209-8 when his knuckle delivery crashed Ishant Sharma's pads.

Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah faced the challenging task of handing the home side a target of somewhere around 220-230. 

India's Mohdohammed Shami, left and India's Jasprit Bumrah walk off the pitch at then lunch interval during the fifth day. (Photo | AP)

This the duo did, forging a ninth-wicket partnership of 89 runs, while battling verbal volleys from their opponents. 

Both of them showed solid footwork while defending and played some eye-catching cover-drives, which even the top order batters would have envied.

Shami was ruthless against off-spinner Moeen Ali, as he smashed him for a boundary and six off consecutive deliveries to raise his second Test fifty.

The partnership also brought back memories of the Trent Bridge Test in 2014, where the 111-run partnership for the last wicket gave India a first innings total of 457.
 



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