Cricket

Plunkett’s double blow gives England edge

Crucial strikes: Liam Plunkett is the toast of his teamates after he turned the match in England's favour with two wickets in two balls.

Crucial strikes: Liam Plunkett is the toast of his teamates after he turned the match in England's favour with two wickets in two balls.   | Photo Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth

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Fortunes swing like a pendulum; Bhuvneshwar picks up six wickets

The forecast for afternoon thunderstorms never came true. The sun was out in all its glory and the only storm was the one that the England fast bowlers churned up to add another twist in a contest that has swung like a pendulum.

In a gripping final session of the second Test’s third day at a packed Lord’s, Liam Plunkett’s two successive wickets and Stuart Broad’s lucky break-through, left India breathless. At close, the visitor scored 169 for four in its second innings and is ahead of England by 145 runs. Murali Vijay (59 batting, 190b, 7x4) and M.S. Dhoni’s unfinished 46-run fifth-wicket partnership prevented further damage but India needs more on Sunday, to stay alive.

Comfortably placed at a tea-score of 84 for one, India’s grip was subsequently weakened during Plunkett’s successive deliveries in his sixth over. The speedster induced Cheteshwar Pujara (43) into a fatal poke. If it was a matter of Pujara using his bat when he needn’t have, the opposite happened for Virat Kohli. He shouldered arms when he should have played. Plunkett’s delivery seamed in, clipped the bails and a stunned Kohli failed to fathom what had happened.

At 118 for three, India’s brief respite was Ajinkya Rahane’s survival off the hat-trick ball. The first innings centurion then suffered a howler. Broad’s steep bouncer skimmed his arm-guard, popped up and descended into a diving Matt Prior’s gloves. Umpire Bruce Oxenford approved the vociferous appeal and a shocked Rahane trudged away.

The tumult past 4 p.m., was a distant possibility when the England first innings inched past India’s 295 and paused at 319. India had to bat four overs before lunch. Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan tided through those unnerving overs and extended their vigil past the break.Vijay remained extremely watchful while Dhawan lived on the razor’s edge in the arc between third slip and point. The southpaw picked three fours across various overs bowled by Broad. The method was the same: his found delicate angles to puncture the off-side cordon. When James Anderson, alternated from over the wicket to around the wicket, Dhawan was beaten a few times but he managed a square-driven four.

Together, Vijay and Dhawan raised 40 runs and negated England’s lead. Dhawan seemed set but just like his second innings knock at Trent Bridge, the opener fell again. He slashed hard at a Ben Stokes delivery that was short and wide. Instinctively, heads turned towards the third-man fence but an airborne Joe Root plucked a superb catch at point.

Vijay continued unhindered, latched onto his tight defence and his first four, a fine-glance off Broad, came off the 57th delivery that he faced. Later, he lofted a four off Moeen Ali. Vijay found in Pujara, a batsman, switching with felicity between defence and attack. Strong off his legs, Pujara tipped a few past square-leg and then topped it with a splendid cover-driven four of Plunkett.

The feel-good factor however vanished in the last session as Vijay and Pujara’s 78-run second-wicket partnership was terminated by Plunkett, who also played a significant role in the morning.

Earlier, Saturday broke through with floodlights at Lord’s after rains and lingering clouds, bequeathed grey and gloom. The England tail though did not succumb to the melancholy air. It flickered just enough to gain the first-innings honours.

Night-watchman Plunkett (55 n.o.) and Prior added weight to England overnight 219 for six. The positive duo shared 51 runs for the seventh wicket. Flicks and forcing shots on the off-side were unleashed until Prior miscued a pull off Mohammed Shami. Immediately, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (six for 82) wrote his name onto the honours board. He castled Stokes and lured Broad’s edge.

England was 280 for nine when Anderson walked into a warm round of applause from the 28,000-strong crowd. Anderson promptly drove, fended the short-pitched deliveries and with Plunkett, secured the host’s transient lead that India erased in the afternoon.

Scoreboard

India — 1st innings: 295 in 91.4 overs.

England — 1st innings: Alastair Cook c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar 10 (29b, 2x4), Sam Robson c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar 17 (42b, 1x4), Gary Ballance c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar 110 (203b, 15x4), Ian Bell c Jadeja b Bhuvneshwar 16 (56b, 2x4), Joe Root lbw b Jadeja 13 (50b), Moeen Ali lbw b Vijay 32 (106b, 4x4), Liam Plunkett (not out) 55 (79b, 8x4), Matt Prior c Dhawan b Shami 23 (42b, 4x4), Ben Stokes b Bhuvneshwar 0 (8b), Stuart Broad c Dhawan b Bhuveshwar 4 (2b), James Anderson c Rahane b Jadeja 19 (21b, 3x4); Extras (b-5, lb-10, nb-3, w-2): 20; Total (in 105.5 overs): 319.

Fall of wickets: 1-22 (Cook), 2-31 (Robson), 3-70 (Bell), 4-113 (Root), 5-211 (Ali), 6-214 (Ballance), 7-265 (Prior), 8-276 (Stokes), 9-280 (Broad).

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 31-10-82-6, Mohammed Shami 19-5-58-1, Ishant Sharma 24-5-61-0, Stuart Binny 10-0-45-0, Ravindra Jadeja 18.5-1-46-2, Murali Vijay 3-0-12-1.

India — 2nd innings: Murali Vijay (batting) 59 (190b, 7x4), Shikhar Dhawan c Root b Stokes 31 (45b, 4x4), Cheteshwar Pujara c Prior b Plunkett 43 (83b, 7x4), Virat Kohli b Plunkett 0 (1b), Ajinkya Rahane c Prior b Broad 5 (8b, 1x4), M.S. Dhoni (batting) 12 (51b, 2x4); Extras (b-15, lb-4): 19; Total (for four wkts., in 63 overs): 169.

Fall of wickets: 1-40 (Dhawan), 2-118 (Pujara), 3-118 (Kohli), 4-123 (Rahane).

England bowling: James Anderson 18-7-36-0, Stuart Broad 14-5-41-1, Ben Stokes 13-2-35-1, Liam Plunkett 12-5-24-2, Moeen Ali 6-1-14-0.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 10:03:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/plunketts-double-blow-gives-england-edge/article6229228.ece

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