Lord's Test: Quick strikes put Indians on front foot

Ravindra Jadeja celebrates after dismissing Sam Robson.

Ravindra Jadeja celebrates after dismissing Sam Robson.  

Cavalier Jadeja and composed Bhuvneshwar’s stand set the host a challenging target

It wasn’t exactly the famous Indian mutiny of 1857 but when a young all-rounder from Saurashtra, entertained the Sunday crowd at Lord’s, rebellion was written all over it.

Ravindra Jadeja stepped into this second Test after James Anderson’s alleged push against him at Trent Bridge and the subsequent exchange of charges to the ICC by the respective teams. Shrugging aside those distractions, Jadeja dished out a cavalier knock and India prospered.

The southpaw’s 68 (57b, 9x4) and his decisive 99-run eighth-wicket partnership off 100 balls with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (52) helped India score 342 in its second innings and set England, a daunting target of 319.

Later under floodlights, India’s fast bowlers struck repeatedly and M.S. Dhoni’s men stand on the cusp of a stirring victory. Barring a miraculous partnership, the host’s fate seems sealed.

At close on the fourth day, England moved gingerly to 105 for four.

Having suffered an early incision — Sam Robson succumbing to Jadeja — England needed an anchor and almost found one in its under-siege captain Cook, who resisted for 93 deliveries. He and Gary Balance also raised a 58-run second-wicket partnership.

Variable bounce

The pitch’s variable bounce from the Nursery End prompted Dhoni to stand a few yards behind the stumps while preferring Jadeja’s left-arm spin but the expected breach did not happen. The skipper swapped Shami for Jadeja and had Ishant Sharma operate from the Pavilion End. The rewards were instantaneous. Shami got Ballance to feel around his off-stump and Ishant castled Ian Bell and teased Cook to feather one to Dhoni and India held the reins despite Moeen Ali surviving Jadeja’s justified appeal for lbw and then watched the rival captain drop. In a racy afternoon session that featured Jadeja’s blows, his delirious twirling of the bat after reaching his maiden Test 50, Bhuvneshwar’s gentle demeanour and gritty bat, the only time the ‘runs dried’ (at 267 for seven) was when there was a power-failure and the ground scoreboard froze till India had actually moved to 281 for seven!

England had no respite as Jadeja whirled his bat around and the fast bowlers lost their head.

It all started when Stuart Binny, promoted ahead of Jadeja, tried to prematurely hoist Ali. Jadeja strode in with India at 203 for six. Instantly, he turned the match on its head.

Perhaps Lord’s fires up Indian all-rounders. In 1990, with India needing 24 to avoid the follow-on while last-man Narendra Hirwani stood at the non-striker’s end, Kapil Dev struck four successive sixes off Eddie Hemmings and England batted again.

The great all-rounder was left with a bitter-sweet feeling as eventually India lost the match. The outcome of Jadeja’s effort is still awaited.

Belated wickets

England’s belated bag of wickets — Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar and Shami fell in a span of four overs — hardly dented India as 75 runs were plundered off 15.1 overs, post-lunch.

Earlier, resuming at the overnight 169 for four, India stayed brisk.

Murali Vijay (95, 247b, 11x4) remained at ease, Dhoni played second-fiddle and the two extended the fifth-wicket partnership to 79 runs.

Beauty rippled in two shots that Vijay crafted: a straight drive off Liam Plunkett and a cover-drive off Ben Stokes. India moved to 202 and then Dhoni edged Plunkett and next-man Binny perished.

Jadeja walked in, lofted Ali and charged at Anderson to drill another four. The new ball, taken in the 81st over, worked for England as Vijay, after a 376-minute vigil, hung his bat to a delighted Anderson.

India was on 235 for seven and the contest was evenly poised.

Undeterred, Jadeja lashed on. He slammed Stuart Broad for four, a blow that hurt the speedster, coming as it did just after Joe Root dropped Bhuvneshwar (on two) at third slip. Jadeja wasn’t finished yet and when the angry bowler banged it short, the left-hander unleashed a nonchalant pull.

Though Jadeja did not go far after being dropped by Bell on 66, India has enough in the tank to humble the host.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 1:00:14 PM |

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