“He completed his 5-fer by removing Ishant Sharma and put a lid on India’s innings at 107. The five-wicket haul took his tally of wickets at Lord’s to a monumental 99”
The bat was firmly tucked under his jumper. Kohli made a run for the pavilion as James Anderson stood at the beginning of his run-up sporting a wry, helpless smile. The rain seemed ready to pelt down at Lord’s again, but Anderson wasn’t going anywhere. He had unfinished business. The umpires were suddenly calling the batsmen back. Now, Kohli had a sheepish smile on his face.
Anderson was unmoved. He had moved the clouds, stopped the rain and soon enough clouded the Indian skipper’s judgement. He would dash out for a run two balls later only to sell his partner, Cheteshwar Pujara, down the river and return to the non-striker’s end.
The rains now poured down. No, the world hadn’t conspired to end Pujara’s return to the side in a harrowing manner. Anderson had conspired. His target was Kohli but the aim wasn’t just to dismiss him, it was to ruffle him up. To shake the Indian skipper up and silence his bat for the rest of the series.
Kohli resisted, inside-edged once, outside edged twice and played and missed at four. This was Anderson at his phenomenal best, swinging the ball with utmost control, reminding Kohli of 2014 every now and then. The seeds of doubt had been sown and Chris Woakes, inspired by Anderson, sent back a rather shook up Kohli.
“I gave him a couple of freebies on his legs that he clipped for four and he said something like ‘That’s not like you, giving me freebies!’ It was teasing, really, leg-pulling. All in good spirit.”
Anderson had quipped after the first Test. While he was being funny then, the lesson had been taken to heart. There were zilch freebies here at Lord’s. Commanding the clouds, the England seamer rained down on India with renewed vigour.
Earlier in the day, Anderson had begun the first over of the day by sending back Murali Vijay with his unplayable banana swing, moving the ball rather late from middle stump to gatecrash into off-stump.
The manner in which he set up Vijay was so enchanting that even a person who had watched no Test cricket until then would have instantly taken a liking to Anderson. The Lancashire seamer swung the ball into Vijay in each of the first four balls, oozing the belief that the only swing he was able to generate was into the batsman. When the fifth one came off his hand, the ball was landed on middle-stump and seemed to be headed down the leg side. Vijay promptly dished out a flick but the ball swung away late to nip out his off-stump.
He went on to tempt KL Rahul with a teasing line outside his off-stump, eventually ekeing out an edge. Rahul could well have left it alone but with Anderson switching between inswing and outswing at the flick of a finger, the uncertainty was understandable.
Then began the battle that could potentially wake up the Virat Kohli of 2014. There was only one way the battle was ending from the time Anderson had Kohli fishing with his skiddy leg-cutters.
But it was Chris Woakes who reaped the rewards. Kohli was no longer appearing in audacious touch like at Edgbaston. Anderson being out of the attack seemed to have given Kohli the license to be more free. However, with Woakes moving the ball at more pace than Anderson, the skipper had no freebies coming his way. The senior bowler had clouded his judgement on a fourth stump line.
When Anderson returned to the attack, a mini resuscitation was on from Ajinkya Rahane, the centurion four years back at this venue on day one, and Ravichandran Ashwin, batting with more intent.
Four balls into his comeback spell and Anderson had Rahane fending. Coming in with the angle and moving away from the batsman, Rahane had only one way of countering it. Out came the defensive blades but this time the movement was subtle, calculated and perfectly aligned to catch the egde.
Anderson had his third and India were stuttering. As though to seal any thoughts of Ashwin doing a Curran, the England seamer cut off his wingman. Kuldeep Yadav was trapped in front with a superb inswinger after he moved a few away from the left-hander.
He completed his 5-fer by removing Ishant Sharma and put a lid on India’s innings at 107. The five-wicket haul took his tally of wickets at Lord’s to a monumental 99. This is Anderson’s heaven. This is him in his fiery, unadulterated avatar. When in the mood, he moves clouds. At Lord’s, no one would dare disbelieve if told that he controlled the clouds and the rain.