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IND vs ENG 2021: Heated exchanges on a cricket field between an Englishman and Indian lead to the unthinkable, yet again

Tempers flared between India and England once again
Tempers flared between India and England once again
Srinjoy  Sanyal
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There was intrigue surrounding the final day at Lord’s between India and England. All three results were on the cards. But when Rishabh Pant – India’s last recognized batsman – nicked one off Ollie Robinson in just the fourth over of the day, wishes became myopic for a slew of Indians.

The possibility of a third Test win at Lord’s seemed to go out of the window as setting England a 200-run target suddenly seemed a more pragmatic goal. But that too became quite an ask after Ishant Sharma (16 off 24) was trapped in front by a Robinson knuckle ball. India were ahead by just 182 runs, with the job to surge the lead resting on the shoulders of Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.

The Monday morning crowd at the Home of Cricket grew louder, with each of the 11 English players buzzing with excitement, and it almost became certain that the two of them would have to shortly run back in to gear up for the chase. What also seemed inevitable was that India’s tailenders, especially Bumrah, would be up against some chin music. And so they were.

More than a tactical act, it was a retaliatory one for the bouncer barrage Bumrah directed at Jimmy Anderson late on Day 3. Unlike the veteran English seamer who was taking body blows, the Indian paceman was swinging his bat - to no avail, though. Each of Mark Wood’s 90mph deliveries was either whistling past his helmet or striking a part of it.

The Indian tailenders did not like any of it, but kept plugging away. Emotions finally boiled over when Mark Wood, on the way back to his bowling mark, put some words in Bumrah’s ears. The English speedster didn’t pause, nor did he look back. But the non-striker took a few steps at him, gestured with his bat and returned some words.

Umpire Richard Illingworth had to intervene. Even Jos Buttler and England captain Joe Root tried to placate the situation at the end of that over, with Bumrah reiterating, “I was not the one who was complaining to bowl slow.”

An express England pacer, an Indian superstar, and a heated exchange between the two. Memories of that famous night in Durban, from 14 years ago, unwittingly came flooding back.

The gentlemen then were Andrew Flintoff and Yuvraj Singh. After Yuvraj dispatched two good deliveries off Flintoff for consecutive boundaries, the star all-rounder tried to get under Yuvi’s skin while going back to field on the square boundary.

Yuvraj Singh's 36-run over in the 2007 World T20 was preceded by an argument with Andrew Flintoff [Credits: ICC]
Yuvraj Singh's 36-run over in the 2007 World T20 was preceded by an argument with Andrew Flintoff [Credits: ICC]

What followed was an extremely animated war of words, with Yuvraj even raising his bat to threaten Freddie. The very next ball Yuvraj faced was from Stuart Broad, and it was smashed with disdain way into the mid-wicket stand.

Here in London, neither did Bumrah get that aggressive nor did Wood end up bowling one of the most infamous overs in the history of the game. But like Yuvraj, what Bumrah managed to do was make a statement. Wood was back with another back-of-a-length delivery. Bumrah again went into a full-blooded pull, but this time, the ball took the splice of the bat and raced away to the point fence.

Since then, the Dukes ball surprisingly started meeting a part of the willow rather than going past it. Apart from dogged blocks, there were miscued pulls, edges flying over the slip cordon and lobs evading the fielders in the inner circle. Most importantly, the Indian quicks were ready to take on their English counterparts, and the scoreboard kept moving.

Over time, the rash hoicks were seamlessly replaced by deft uses of wrists to place the balls into gaps and avail singles. More than the runs on the board, the character the duo showed, the calmness they exuded and the calculated risks they took were praised by fans and experts alike.

So much so that the broadcaster even put up a split screen comprising Shami’s cover drive on the left and Bumrah’s on the right, with the commentators analyzing (read praising) both.

What also helped India’s cause was that Mark Wood had to go off the field and was spotted applying an ice-pack to his right shoulder. Anderson also wasn’t fully fit. Seamer Ollie Robinson and off-spinner Moeen Ali were operating in tandem, and Shami took a liking to the latter.

Such was the Indian quick's presence of mind that he spotted Anderson a few yards off the long-on boundary. Shami's eyes lit up after seeing Ali toss one up. He went for it and Anderson started back-pedalling, but the ball went over the rope on with a single bounce.

Along with the lead, the Indian bowlers' confidence was on the rise. The senior pro continued his dominance over the off-spinner. In his next over, Shami first bludgeoned a tossed-up delivery into cow corner for a boundary before dancing down the track to hit a towering six over square leg. And guess what? He brought up his second-ever international fifty.

The magnitude of the Durban developments in 2007 was probably greater than that of Lord’s in 2021. But both will forever be etched in memories and history books, simply because of the sheer impact created.

Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes in an over surged India’s total way past 200 – mind you, it was the pre-IPL era. And here, India’s highest-ever ninth-wicket stand (89* off 120) in England ensured that they not only saved the Test but also pulled off yet another miraculous victory.

The fact that they were determined to pay the opposition back in the same coin – even in the face of adversity, even after physio Nitin Patel had to rush out twice – goes to show why India are a Test powerhouse.

Both Shami (L) and Bumrah (R) recorded their highest scores in international cricket
Both Shami (L) and Bumrah (R) recorded their highest scores in international cricket

Kohli chose to extend the Bumrah-Shami show. The duo batted for two overs each on either side of the lunch break as England were set a daunting target of 272 runs in 60 overs.

Mohammed Shami smashed an unbeaten 56 off 70 balls, and Bumrah – playing the perfect second fiddle – finished on a 64-ball 34. Lord’s was on its feet.


Same intensity, this time with the ball in hand

Shami and Bumrah removed both English openers for ducks in the opening two overs
Shami and Bumrah removed both English openers for ducks in the opening two overs

Such was the havoc wreaked both on the field and in the minds of the English players that the Indian captain decided to open the bowling with Bumrah and Shami, holding off veteran Ishant Sharma. And the two didn’t disappoint.

It was the first time ever in Test history that England had lost both their openers for ducks in an innings on home soil as Bumrah and Shami accounted for Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley respectively in the opening two overs. The match was no longer about runs to defend or get. Both India and England were fighting time, and it was imperative that one of them stamped their authority early on.

Balls were angling in, hitting the deck and going away past the outside edges as more wickets threatened to tumble. Shami induced an edge off 24-year-old Haseeb Hameed but Rohit Sharma grassed the sharp chance at second slip. Shami couldn’t better his wickets column, but Bumrah went on to pick up two more extremely decisive ones.

India have developed a knack for picking up wickets just after the 20-minute Tea interval. Root was making batting look easy while the rest of his teammates were struggling to put bat to ball. But consistency is a precious virtue, as Bumrah typified at Lord's.

The third ball of the final session was a stock one from Bumrah, but it deviated off the pitch and took Root’s outside edge to find the hands of his Indian counterpart at first slip. Five wickets down and their most important player back in the hut, England were staring down the barrel.

But it almost became a ‘so close yet so far’ situation for India as wicketkeeper Jos Buttler (25 off 96) and seamer Ollie Robinson (9 off 35) blocked 75 deliveries to put on a fighting 30 runs for the eighth wicket.

Then, Bumrah’s presence of mind, which was on display earlier in the day, came to the fore again. He followed up a bouncer with a well-disguised slower one – both from around the wicket – to trap Robinson plumb in front. Though Illingworth wasn’t convinced to raise his finger, the DRS proved otherwise.

Bumrah finished with figures of 15-3-33-3, while his favorite batting partner Shami logged 10-5-13-1. It was an all-round effort from the two most precious members of India’s much-vaunted pace quartet – not just in terms of runs with the bat and wickets with the ball, but also the determination and nerves of steel showed.

Mohammed Siraj's figures of 8 for 126 are now the best-ever match haul by an Indian at Lord's
Mohammed Siraj's figures of 8 for 126 are now the best-ever match haul by an Indian at Lord's

Such was the statement Bumrah made by delivering his bouncer barrage in England’s first innings and negotiating the same during his turn with the bat that Jimmy Anderson was expecting the same when he walked out to see out the last eight overs of the Test.

It was as if the seeds of doubt, or dare we say fear, had been planted in his mind. He was hanging on the back foot, expecting one at his ribs. But Mohammed Siraj (4 for 32) angled it in on a fuller length, beat the outside edge and hit the top of off to complete a remarkable come-from-behind victory for India at Lord’s.


Edited by Sai Krishna
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