After the world cup win, this was apparently the high-profile series every-one was waiting for. India with the #1 status defending their ranking to the #3 ranked England, was one of the most anticipated series at the moment. And what an occasion to begin with. This being the 2000th test overall, 100th test between India and England and the venue being, LORD’S the Mecca of cricket.
As the first day began, the Lord’s had overcast. An excellent start to the game, as the pitch looked like a bowler friendly one. Zaheer Khan and Praveen Kumar’s sheer swing disturbed the batsmen, especially since Andrew Strauss is known to throw away his wicket against left arm seamers. Soon enough, Zaheer Khan provided India with a strike as Alastair Cook couldn’t go beyond the single digit mark. Soon Andrew Strauss departed too. Though, Zaheer soon had to walk out of the field because of a muscle pull and India were left with 3 bowlers. A struggling Pieterson trying to find his run-making ability couldn’t score as well as he normally does.
Though, India missed out on a lot of opportunities. Sharma missed out on an opportunity to run out Strauss when he was on 2. While Dravid missed out on a catch of Trott. A partly-blind sighted Dravid again missed out on an easy catch of Trott again at 1st slip off Zaheer Khan’s beautiful out-swinger.
With day over with just 49 overs played, England were left at 127/2 with Pieterson struggling and Trott scoring an outstanding half-century. Apart from the fact that Indians could have fared way better than this as the ball swung because of the overcastting skies.
As the day passed, England were already at the crease and rearing to go. Almost 3 years, a big match difficult conditions and that’s all he wanted to score a century at Lord’s and his third double century. Though it was his slowest double century, but it was a century made with sheer temperament and exceptionally well played. An innings built and played against all the odds that were standing tall against him.
With the Indian pace attack already paralyzed because of Zaheer’s injury, Praveen Kumar showed India the way. Exceptional bowling, he tried everything in his book to restrict them but with no support from either bowlers. Except for the fact that, Bhajji didn’t bowl badly. Praveen Kumar had an excellent start to his test career, picking up 5 wickets at the Mecca of cricket. As people say, if god has taken something from you, he will give it back to you in a better way. A dejected Praveen Kumar was left out of the World cup squad because of an injury, but he has made an impressive comeback with his first few matches in test cricket. His double blows at regular intervals did disrupt England’s batting for a while but Pieterson continued forming partnerships with Ian Bell, Matt Prior and Greame Swann. As Pieterson neared his double century, the original Pieterson was back leaving away his shadow as he attacked and how! The last 30 runs was a mere waste of effort by all the bowlers he was scoring against. Atlast they declared at 474/8, the crowd applauding for a superb double century and Praveen Kumar and Pieterson acknowledging each other’s excellent offers. Indian openers on the other hand tried and survived on the second day of the match at 17/0.
But the highlight of the day couldn’t be missed. The ball in the hand of M.S.Dhoni, Indian captain and wicketkeeper and the gloves in the hands of Rahul Dravid. But what amuses me is the fact that he almost got Pieterson out twice in the 8 overs he bowled. Once, Billy Bowden even judged him out, but UDRS just helped him out. But did Dhoni have an option? He sure did, 3 strike bowlers whom he had to rotate all the time, Raina and Sachin as part time bowlers who could be driven all around the ground. Being a gambler, he tried his luck out too, and trust me he was accurate.
As day 3 started, India were expected to score heavily with the kind of batting line-up they have. With Gambhir walking the path to pavilion early, India already looked in distress. Mukund made a fine 49, but wasn’t enough and got out as Broad bowled a full length delivery. And the most awaited person entered and was given a standing ovation by the entire crowd. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, who was the most awaited person in Lord’s at that point of time, a person who has ever scored the century at the Mecca of cricket, ad what an occasion if he would have scored his 100th international century here in Lord’s. After making an impressive, he started struggling against Tremlett and atlast got an edge against Broad and the anticipation was over. Disappointed, he walked back to the pavilion.
A much hyped Sachin Tendulkar day was however taken over by Rahul Dravid’s sheer temperament. Rahul Dravid took the opportunity and scored a fine century without certainly an almost no-support as even M.S.Dhoni fell for 28 just to follow Laxman and Raina. En route, he even became the 2nd highest run-getter behind Sachin as he ran past Ponting. The great wall of India again proved why is he called one of the best in business. With India all out for 286 they already had a lead of around 188 runs which showed a clear advantage towards the English side. As the day ended, England were 5/0.
4th day started and England were on top of the game. A quick wicket of Alastair Cook ad the day looked good for India. A quite partnership and here goes the wicket. An excellent spell by Ishant Sharma and England were already 107/6. But, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad played an excellent part and they just grew stronger. Scoring 103* and 74* respectively, they got England back into the game. Declaring at 269/6, England were back at the top.
India’s innings started and they were back to nowhere. With Gambhir injured because of shot played by Matt Prior which hit him on the upper part of elbow and Sachin Tendulkar ill, India were even more paralyzed. With Mukund’s wicket it looked like India were out of contention and even a draw looked far away from there. Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman who had to shift to no.2 and no.3 positions respectively, still hung out in the middle ad saved India from the embarrassment. At 34* and 32* they look to play their parts perfectly to get India on track to win the game. One being the centurion in the previous inning while the other being the second inning man and has been an ultimate savior for India in last few years. If they hang around with Gambhir, Tendulkar to follow if they fit, they have the perfect recipe for a draw if not win.