Cricket

Indian batsmen flounder on a seaming wicket

England's James Anderson, centre, celebrates the wicket of India's Shikhar Dhawan during the first day of the second test match between England and India at Lord's cricket ground in London, Thursday, July 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

England's James Anderson, centre, celebrates the wicket of India's Shikhar Dhawan during the first day of the second test match between England and India at Lord's cricket ground in London, Thursday, July 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)   | Photo Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Niggardly England pacers thrive in favourable conditions to prise out the top order

No one among India’s top-five batsmen had ever played a Test at Lord’s.

When opportunity dawned finally, a majority of them scored their twenties and departed, while men like Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, who earned a place on the honours board through centuries here, watched from the commentary box.

At 140 for six, India was on the backfoot at tea during the opening day of the second Test. Ajinkya Rahane, from the top five, and Stuart Binny, were at the crease. To make it worse, the lone batsman who has played here before, M.S. Dhoni, had returned to the dressing room after nibbling at a Stuart Broad delivery.

In the second session that lasted 28 overs and yielded 67 runs, India lost the key trio of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and the captain. Ravindra Jadeja too fell, trapped by Moeen Ali, and a grim scenario unfolded for the visitor as the England fast bowlers pitched it up, enticed the drive and thrived on the conditions. It wasn’t exactly a mode of attack they mastered in the morning but they made amends once the sun was out and that affected India.

Unchanged teams

A pitch that retained its green shade and a mild overcast morning were leading factors that goaded Alastair Cook to insert the opposition. Both teams remained unchanged from the ones that were fielded at Trent Bridge, but with the surface having more lifethan the one at Nottingham, fortunes were bound to alter.

It did for the fast bowlers, though till lunch their attack was rather pinned to an extra inch outside off-stump and a length that was a touch short. It however did not prevent them from making twin incisions, which left India delicately placed at 73 for two at the break.

In the news for an alleged off-field skirmish with Jadeja, James Anderson kept that angst under wraps and began with a maiden. It was the beginning of his stingy string of overs that witnessed batsmen shouldering arms and letting the ball sail by.

Proceedings were not tepid though as Shikhar Dhawan edged Broad for four. Murali Vijay, on zero, snicked Broad but a diving Matt Prior dropped the catch. There was no such luck for Dhawan when the opener fenced at Anderson in the day’s third over.

The delivery pitched on leg, seamed sharply across to the off with the famous Lord’s slope also playing its part.

There was not much Dhawan could do and Gary Ballance was grateful at third slip.

Slow going

Vijay and Pujara then added 37 runs across more than 100 deliveries. Vijay got his few fours through shaky edges or the glorious cover-drive, while Pujara defended and flicked.

Broad briefly walked away with a sore knee and just as India seemed to breathe easy in the first session, another wicket fell. Trying to force Liam Plunkett towards the on-side, Vijay (24) closed his bat’s face and the leading edge went to a waiting Ballance.

Kohli walked in and soon clipped three fours as Ben Stokes fed him on the off-side and Plunkett strayed into his legs. The batsman also added to Prior’s woes behind the stumps as his edge off Ali popped out of the wicket-keeper’s gloves. Meanwhile Pujara, true to hisinnings-building character, stretched his tenure.

India’s vital batting cogs were not destined for a masterly stint. After lunch, with Anderson bowling closer to the stumps, Kohli erred and for once Prior wrapped his gloves around the ball.

Pujara found Stokes crashing one through his defence and England overwhelmingly held the initiative.

It was an advantage that was further multiplied through the subsequent dismissals of Dhoni and Jadeja.

Scoreboard:

India – 1st innings: Murali Vijay c Ballance b Plunkett 24 (67b, 4x4), Shikhar Dhawan c Ballance b Anderson 7 (11b, 1x4), Cheteshwar Pujara b Stokes 28 (117b, 4x4), Virat Kohli c Prior b Anderson 25 (34b, 4x4), Ajinkya Rahane (batting) 26 (63b, 3x4), M.S. Dhoni c Prior b Broad 1 (17b), Ravindra Jadeja lbw b Ali 3 (11b), Stuart Binny (batting) 6 (11b, 1x4); Extras (b-8, lb-11, nb-1): 20; Total (for six wkts., in 55 overs, at tea): 140.



Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Dhawan), 2-48 (Vijay), 3-86 (Kohli), 4-113 (Pujara), 5-123 (Dhoni), 6-128 (Jadeja).



England bowling: James Anderson 14-7-19-2, Stuart Broad 14-5-35-1, Liam Plunkett 10-4-26-1, Ben Stokes 10-2-24-1, Moeen Ali 7-2-17-1.

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