Cricket

Ishant bounces England out as India win by 95 runs at Lord’s

Ishant Sharma, left, celebrates taking the wicket of Joe Root caught out by Stuart Binny on the fifth day of the second Test between England and India at Lord's.

Ishant Sharma, left, celebrates taking the wicket of Joe Root caught out by Stuart Binny on the fifth day of the second Test between England and India at Lord's.   | Photo Credit: Matt Dunham

Ishant Sharma grabbed a career best 7 for 74 to bowl out England for 223 and end India’s three-year drought of away wins. The last six wickets fell for only 50 runs on an absorbing fifth day’s play.

India rose like a champion and England was consigned to the debris of defeat. Lord’s reverberated and M.S. Dhoni’s men savoured a remarkable triumph in the second Test to go 1-0 up in the five-match series. Ishant Sharma’s seven for 74 choked the England second innings to 223, and India won by 95 runs.

The historic win plugged a few gaps in India’s performance graph. The visitor’s previous Test victory at Lord’s came in 1986 when Kapil Dev’s men won by five wickets. Dhoni’s merry bunch won its last overseas Test at Kingston, Jamaica, in June 2011 and 15 Tests have gone past with debilitating defeats or dull draws on foreign shores marring the balance sheet.

All those blemishes were erased once Ishant injected adrenaline into the fifth day’s afternoon with a rousing spell from the Pavilion End. If spin on a deteriorating pitch was expected to deliver the fatal blows, India unveiled a gripping alternative.

Short-pitched deliveries that evoked flailing pulls and awkward fends from the England batsmen triggered a flurry of dismissals.

Needing 214 to wrest an improbable victory on the concluding day, England stonewalled almost the entire morning session, with Joe Root (66, 146b, 7x4) and Moeen Ali holding fort.

The two added 101 runs for the fifth-wicket, and then, the last ball before lunch vindicated Dhoni’s switch in strategy that now completely hinged on the delivery that climbed into the batsman’s face.

Ishant banged it in, Ali took his eyes off the ball, and his awkward attempt at defence offered Cheteshwar Pujara a catch at short-leg. With England 173 for five, India had had the perfect appetiser ahead of lunch.

Once the second session commenced, India stuck to its ‘bang-’em-short’ strategy. It may have caused the bowlers grief in Trent Bridge but at Lord’s, wickets, high-fives and hugs were relished.

The England batsmen’s choice to meet fire with fire, also aided India’s inevitable march towards victory. After Root and Matt Prior struck a few fours, Ishant caused another breach.

Prior was cramped, the ball rose, the batsman pulled and M. Vijay was waiting at the mid-wicket fence.

The rest, including Root failed to quell Ishant, and Indian fielders were a happy lot, getting catches at various positions — deep backward square-leg (Stuart Binny), mid-on (Pujara) and behind the wicket too as Dhoni pouched one off a hopping Stuart Broad.

Ironically, England’s last wicket — James Anderson — was cast away through a run-out, with Ravindra Jadeja knocking down the stumps. The Indians were off on their victory run and, as always, Dhoni quickly removed a stump for his keepsakes souvenir.

Earlier, under overcast skies, India realised that England wasn’t going to suffer a case of Monday morning blues as long as Root and Ali were at the crease. Resuming at 105 for four, the host’s immediate priority was to survive.

Dhoni started his attack with Jadeja and Ishant before bringing in Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Root and Ali countered the varied wares, and the first session was all about long periods of doughty defence.

At one stage Ali was rooted on 30 for 44 minutes. England needed that effort while India dreamt of that one critical breakthrough.

Memories of the defiant alliances between A.B. de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, and between Brendon McCullum and B.J. Watling that denied India victories, also swirled in the air.

Root, ever-smiling, did break the tedium when he clattered three fours off Ishant to reach his fifty. Just as the soups were being heated up, India changed its strategy in the last over before lunch.

Ishant nailed Ali (39) to split England’s key pair, and India sensed an opportunity. It built on that in an incredible afternoon session, which belonged to the pacer.

The lanky spearhead grabbed four wickets from six overs while conceding 27 runs and India ruled.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 9:32:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/ishant-bounces-england-out-as-india-win-by-95-runs-at-lords/article6234312.ece

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