With the crowd being pulled to watching lively dressed spectators amongst themselves, the England team won that difficult competition to lure the spectators towards them. At the end of Lord’s test, the England captain Strauss said that there are rooms for improvement and voila, this is a bigger improvement from a victory of 196 runs to a victory of 319 runs. Except for day 1, all other days looked like this is a match between the giants and the minnows. England looked like the Australians under Waugh and India looked like the minnows having a taste of test cricket for the first time. India never performed like their ranking states and they deserved to lose that. England performed as champions in all departments except for few hiccups at slips. They are the fittest and better prepared among the two teams and the top test ranking is within reach now. Though one can say that they performed and are expected to perform in their home soil, England did enough to topple the best batting line-up in the world and that is enough to take over the throne. For India, the competition for place between Raina and Yuvraj continued with both failing and for England, the competition increases whether to include Bresnan or Tremlett when both are fit.
Day 4 – England Win
Yet another free fall by the Indians made sure that they are in the brink of handing over their top test ranking to England. With a little more than 5 sessions given for India to reach the target of 478, none of the top order batsmen survived and England seamers proved that swing and bounce were still there to help them and the pitch has not turned to a flat bed as assumed. India were bundled out in just 2 sessions and under 50 overs.
Once Dravid and Laxman were gone, it looked like England won. But Tendulkar showed some resistance and reached his 60th half century ably supported by Harbhajan. Yuvraj was dismissed by a good bouncer from Bresnan and Dhoni followed with a first ball duck. And once Tendulkar was dismissed for the seventh time by Anderson, it was confirmed that the match will not go for next day and rightly Broad finished up Sreesanth and took England to victory.
Harbhajan though never showed any discomfort during batting and along with Praveen Kumar attacked the bowlers which the Indian top order needs to learn. Once Harbhajan left, Kumar tried to play out most of the deliveries but perished soon protecting Ishant Sharma at the order end.
Earlier, England were in for a scoring feast with both Broad and Bresnan taking the score past 500 and scoring more than 6 an over from the hapless Indian attack. India, yet again short of a prime bowler in Harbhajan, over worked their seamers who leaked away runs at the third man and the part time spinners in Yuvraj and Raina couldn’t do any damage to the raising run rate. Bresnan reached 90, one short of his highest test score. Minutes before lunch England were bowled out after scoring 103 runs in the 19 overs they faced since morning.
Day 3 – In the spirit and mammoth scoring
The highlight of the day was indeed India recalling the appeal against Ian Bell. Just at the stroke of tea, Morgan pushed one towards covers and ran 3 when Praveen Kumar dived at the boundary. Bell, assuming that the ball reached the boundary and assuming tea was called, started towards Morgan who gestured him to stop. Without realizing that the ball was not dead, Bell kept walking and the stumps were dislodged at his end and Indians appealed. The umpires after confirming that it’s not a boundary, stopped the Englishmen from heading back to the pavilion and called the third umpire to confirm the decision. The big screen flashed ‘OUT’ and there was fury and outrage among the spectators. Even though this is correct according to law, to keep up the spirit of the game (and ofcourse to prevent a controversy of calling Indian team and BCCI as bullies) and after Strauss and Flower’s request, the Indian team decided to recall the appeal. There was thunderous applause when Bell came out to bat post tea. A nice gesture from team India given the situation that they desperately needed wickets. A lesson indeed, especially to captains who used such decisions against India.
The spirit or the gesture soon vanished when England started dealing in boundaries post tea session. They scored 187 in that session and Indian bowlers looked like puppets. The new ball gave a brief reprieve when Morgan and Trott were dismissed but Prior and Bresnan continued the English dominance.
The day belonged only to England with 3 100+ partnerships and the make shift one down player Ian Bell scoring a century. Eoin Morgan too joined the party with Bell and scored for the first time this series. The pitch looked like there is nothing there for the bowlers and England amazed a huge 417 runs on a single day.
The Indian fielding was below par with runs leaking through the third man region often and through covers as well. Even after these, Dhoni didn’t mind changing his field set up and England continued with their run scoring once Harbhajan walked off the field due to abdomen strain after unsuccessful 9 overs.
Day 2 – Wall stands tall and the hat-trick
Looked like India are all set for a comeback yet again like in any other series but things reversed when the second new ball was taken by England. Indian lower order collapsed after a 67 run lead.
Continuing their over night stand, Laxman responded with a faster (compared to Dravid) half century and dealing with boundaries in the process.
Tendulkar, playing his 100th away test match, joined Dravid. He didn’t last long and was soon followed by Raina back to the pavilion. This mini collapse post lunch brought in Yuvraj Singh and he batted brilliantly for a well deserved half century and India were in a commanding position at tea and post tea brought in the 100 run partnership between the two batsmen and the deficit as well overcome as England’s part-time spinners made sure that the overs are done before the next new ball.
New ball taken and immediately the break-through was provided by Broad who picked up Yuvraj Singh. Broad didn’t stop there and picked up Dhoni, Harbhajan and Praveen Kumar to claim his first hat-trick and ended with his career best figures of 6 for 46.
At the other end, Dravid raced to his 34th century but the Indian collapse frustrated even ‘The Wall’ and he fell for 117.
England started their 2nd innings and soon Cook fell for the fourth consecutive time before Strauss. Bell joined Strauss in place of injured Trott and the pair played through the remaining overs and ended with a 43 run trail.
Day 1 – Yet another toss and yet another frustrating partnership
With the TrentBridge under cloud cover and with Gambhir, Zaheer and Tremlett missing out due to injuries, Dhoni realistically took to bowl after winning toss. For India, Yuvraj gets the nod in place of Gambhir and Sreesanth as well comes in. For England, the much awaited Bresnan gets the game in place of Tremlett.
With India expected to make their usual comeback, their seamers rocked the England top order and England were reduced to 124/8. But once again India let lose the tail and the local lads Broad and Swann milked the Indian bowling and took the score past 200. When Praveen Kumar removed Swann, the damage was already done. India yet again failed to capitalize on early wickets.
With Gambhir not playing, all responsibilities yet again came under Rahul Dravid who opened with Mukund this time. A peach of a delivery from Anderson and Mukund immediately drives (no other way to play that ball) and ended up finding Pietersen and the scorecard for India read 0/1 from 0.1. Now again all left to Dravid and Laxman to take India through.
Overall, Team India looked out of sorts. Their approach to the game looked different than when Kirsten was coaching the team. Their defensive bowling attack, their fitness and commitment on the field are definitely questionable. Seamers were mostly bowling either in the leg stump line or wide of the off stump and spinners were bowling unnecessary short deliveries which got dispatched to the boundary. Not sure whether the inclusion of Sehwag will boost the team morale. England on the other hand looked for wickets from the first delivery and their batting seams to be too deep and didn’t depend on the openers. In short, England are well on course to #1 ranking.