After the epic Test match at Jamaica, there was no time to catch a breath because, by the time you woke up after sleeping late at night, Lord’s was buzzing and inviting each and every cricket fan for a final day full of drama. At one point, you might have assumed, it was heading towards a draw, rather, it ended up with an epic Indian victory.

Joe Root won the toss and decided to field first after looking grey skies overhead, but the team batting second had not always been successful in Lord’s and the amount of dampness present at the wicket would fade as the day progresses. The track would be ideal for the batters and on Day 4 and 5 could be a tough one to chase any sort of targets.

Still, throughout the five days, the deck maintained its trueness and never hinted of any snakes underneath – sensible batting was all needed, England tp order lacked that immensely.

In contrast, the limited over hit-man Rohit Sharma as an opener was much better than anyone could even think of.  Rohit, with the bat, is an impulsive character – he goes after the attack and loves to score runs fast. At Lord’s, he was the ideal portrait of a saint who respected the conditions, occupied the crease, left the balls and trusted his defence.

At the other end, his partner, KL Rahul’s modification in his technique and shifting of balance aided him well to get accustomed to the conditions and eke out runs with composure.

Rahul and Rohit Sharma put on India’s first century partnership outside Asia for the opening wicket since 2010 – 126, to set the tone on what turned out to be a glorious day for batting.

James Anderson and Ollie Robinson shared the new ball.

But it soon turned out that Anderson was both their best attacking as well as a defensive bowler.

With Sam Curran rattled early and Mark Wood – who came in for the injured Stuart Broad – lacking consistency in the early parts of his spell, it was shaping up to be a long day in the field for England.

Anderson came back strong with a delivery where the seam was facing towards the slip but changed its trajectory after pitching on the back of the length – Rohit was castled and that brought Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease.

Pujara, at first, first survived an lbw shout, then an edge through the cordon, before eventually poking one to Bairstow in the cordon.

Kohli started reaching out to play his big cover drives and connected with a few after remaining quiet for a while, and Rahul grew more and more assured as he approached his first Test century since The Oval in 2018. He brought that up with a confident cut to the backward-point fence, and the pair added 117 for the third wicket at 3.37.

It was Robinson who eventually dismissed Kohli, with the second new ball, with just over five overs left in the day, Root taking the catch at first slip.

Rahul, who walked off in bright sunshine, having played a part in two century stands, notched a well-composed hundred.

On Day 2, it was more ebb and flow and less one-sided on day two as England counter-punched throughout to significantly limit India’s chances of running away with an early advantage in the second Test. Spearheading the bowling effort once again was James Anderson, who became the oldest man in 70 years to take a Test five-for; he was aided much better on the day by the rest of the line-up, and together they made sure that India added only 88 to their overnight score of 276 for 3.

By stumps, England were 246 behind with Joe Root looking solid after he had put up an encouraging stand with Rory Burns that came just in time as a potent spell from Mohammed Siraj threatened to put India on top once again.

Joe Root made his fourth century at Lord’s on Day 3 and stretched it past 150 like he had the first three times, as a near-perfect display on Day 3 helped England take a slender lead against India. He was left stranded on 180 with England being bowled out off the last ball of the day.

The 27-run lead capped off a gradual comeback from England in the match, which had begun by first bowling India out early on Day 2 and then battling through to stumps on a difficult evening.

Almost as if it were a reward for their work in the evening, England came out to the best batting conditions of the match so far- bright sunshine and a flat pitch that they put to good use, starting with overnight batters Root and Jonny Bairstow.

The pair put up their third century stand of the year, but this one was of a different flavour, with Bairstow playing a more prominent role. His most prominent role in two years, in fact, as England’s No. 5 brought up his first Test fifty since 2019.

England were striking at more than four an over at that stage and Bairstow’s confident driving in the V started it all off. He then brought up boundaries through point and gully and his favoured square leg region and pretty soon India were already thinking conservatively.

That meant only two fielders in the cordon and a sweeper point fielder through most of the first session, alongside the early introduction of Ravindra Jadeja, India’s go-to bowler for a defensive strategy. Every bit of that helped Root, who has been something of a one-man army for England lately.

He ambled along, solid as ever, in what would turn out to be a flawless innings offering no clear chances to India.

On Day 4, England managed to completely change the pace of the game, controlled it throughout the day, and pushed India against the wall on a gripping day’s play.

Mark Wood, who began the Test struggling for discipline and recovered on the second day for two wickets, elevated himself another step as he forced India’s struggling middle order into the game early by dismissing their openers before the visitors could get into the lead.

India had crawled to 181 for 6 in 82 overs by stumps, 154 ahead on a pitch that has changed flavour rapidly in favour of the bowlers.

England looked to finish things off on the final day but from nowhere, the Indian tail wagged.

Rishabh Pant was dismissed early, alright, by Ollie Robinson who also showed us he has a mean knuckleball with Ishant Sharma’s wicket.

India led by about 180 at that point and England have played right into their hands since. Wood wasn’t 100%, but came back on for a short burst, hurled bouncers at Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami and with about five fielders on the boundary and only one catching.

This was the plan for a good stretch of time. There was sledging, there were arguments, there were tonks on the helmet – but no clear cut wicket chances. Anderson went short at Bumrah too, a retaliation that hasn’t paid off in the context of this game. An England win now is looking distant. Shami has got to his highest Test score, India have struck at more than four an over in the session.

This is the second time India’s tail has shown spine this series, after the 48 runs they compiled in the first innings at Trent Bridge. And all this has been possible because the tail-enders have been spending ample time batting in the nets, facing throw-downs and working out lengths, and understanding patience. Not slogging and having a laugh, but sweating it out – leaving balls and defending.

With merely 64 overs remaining, India declared and while batting in their second innings, the English batting lineup wobbled.

Bumrah delivered a dolly on the leg side and the unusual stance of Rory Burns pinned him down while he was trying to work it on the onside – it kissed the edge and flew in the air for a catch. Then Shami produced a Dennis Lillee like 140 km/hour leg-cutter that cut Dom Sibley in halves. Haseeb Hameed was trying to prove his worth by spending time at the crease, but Ishant Shamra dished out an in-ducker that trapped Hameed lbw. Shamra produced yet another in-coming delivery to get rid of Bairstow which left Root to carry the burden of a shaky batting lineup.

Bumrah came wide on the crease, on the fuller side of good length, angled in towards off, and Root had to defend. It held its line a little, and took a healthy edge – flew straight into the hands of first slip.

With no Root available, India had their one foot on the victory line.

Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler put up a defiant resistance and, in between, Kohli dropped Buttler on 2 and then Siraj struck.

He targeted that channel of middle and leg, shaping away, Moeen defended in front of offstump, this team the movement was just right to take the edge, and Kohli made no mistake at first slip this time. In the following delivery, Curran played the line of offstump again, but Siraj got just the right amount of movement to nail him and he was on a hat-trick again.

Robinson and Buttler frustrated the Indians and a bit of verbal war took place.


But the Indians were in the mood to kill – Siraj and Bumrah polished off the tail and India emerged victorious.

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