London: On a day, when close to two sessions were lost to rain and inclement weather, Indian batsmen’s weakness against swing was brutally exposed by the England bowlers here Friday at Lord’s. After being put in by England skipper Joe Root, the Indians looked hopelessly out of sorts against James Anderson and company.
Anderson (5/20) who has taken the maximum number of wickets (99) by any England bowler at Lord’s started the slide by sending back both openers Murali Vijay (zero) and KL Rahul (eight). India failed to recover from that double blow before lunch and struggled all through to be bowled out for 107.
Except for Ravichandran Ashwin (29, 38b, 4×4), skipper Virat Kohli (24, 57b) and Ajinkya Rahane (18, 44b) none of the others showed the gumption to stay and fight it out in the middle. Yes, the ball did swing, but then Test cricket is not just about bat dominating the ball… at times it is the other way round too.
The best way to counter the swing is to play close to the body and put the best stride forward. Also the batsman must have the ability to leave deliveries, for Test cricket it is as big an art as hitting through the covers for a boundary. Well the Indian batsmen did not possess that art and that was the main cause for their downfall.
Anderson was well-supported by Chris Woakes (2/19) playing in place of Ben Stokes and Sam Curran (1/26). But then Stuart Broad (1/37) beat the bat on numerous occasions before getting the wicket of Indian top scorer Ashwin.
The present Indian team have frequently said that they to be ranked No.1 in the world in the real term, must win under all conditions. Well, Friday the conditions were against them and they failed miserably. It would really be heart-breaking for Kohli if India lose the game within four days with the first day’s play being washed out. Also the policy behind team selection and playing an extra spinner in place of Umesh Yadav really doesn’t make much sense on such type of a pitch.
India picked Kuldeep Yadav with the hope that England will bat in the fourth innings. Well that looks a distinct improbability now. It will indeed be a miracle if they can avoid going 0-2 down.