They say miracles are rare and we seldom get to see them, but with the Indian Cricket Test team, scripting miracles one after the other seem to be quite common and regular in 2021. After a miraculous Test win in Brisbane earlier this year, the Indian Cricket Test team have pulled off another special come-from-behind miracle Test victory over hosts England at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s. How did the Test match unfold, how it swung like a pendulum, and much more of that, as you read further.
2nd Test, England vs India, Lord’s
After a Day 5 washout in the 1st Test at Nottingham, the 2nd Test at Lord’s almost began in the same fashion with dark clouds hovering over the ground and a bit of drizzle here and there. This did lead to a delayed start, but luckily, the wait wasn’t too long. An hour delay was that all we had to wait for, as the toss took place. And like most days off late, India’s captain Virat Kohli lost the toss and were put in to bat by England’s Joe Root. England wrung in a few changes (3 to be precise) while India went in with one forced change with Shardul Thakur missing out and Ishant Sharma making a return to the Test side.
Put into bat, India needed a good start as the one they had in the 1st Test at Nottingham. The first hour was extremely crucial as the ball seamed and swung and batting was probably going to be difficult. But openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma looked watchful and played the ball according to its merit. After the first hour of play, Rohit started shifting gears while KL Rahul was still looking to get his eye in. Batting was tough, but Rohit and Rahul looked rock solid out in the middle. Just when they looked good and Rohit neared a hundred, Anderson came back into the attack and got a ball to jag back in which rattled Rohit’s stumps. Delight in the England camp, disappointment in the Indian one.
At number 3 walked Cheteshwar Pujara, who was short of confidence as well as short of runs. The pressure was on him, especially with Anderson bowling so beautifully in the current spell of his. Ooh’s and aah’s flowed as Pujara found it difficult to get his eye in, and eventually, a few overs later, succumbed to the nagging lines bowled by England’s premier 39-year-old, Jimmy Anderson. The score read 150 for 2 as captain Virat Kohli walked out to bat, who like Pujara, was short of runs. A few top deliveries here and there did trouble the batters out there, but KL Rahul and Kohli looked sedate and composed.
Once Rohit departed, KL Rahul began finding the boundaries more often than not as India slowly began to take control of the game once again. Rahul motored along well while Kohli looked to play the big innings he so desperately needed. Overs went by and soon Rahul entered into the nervous 90’s. A few moments later, a crunch square cut and the Indian dressing room erupted as KL Rahul reached the 3-figure mark. More than KL, it was Virat who seemed really delighted for his teammate, who was making a comeback into this Indian Test side.
England toiled hard and when the new ball was due, they took it straight away, hoping to get a few wickets before close of play. Luckily for them, Ollie Robinson managed to find the edge of the Indian skipper, which was gobbled up gleefully by Joe Root in the slip cordon. Kohli looked gutted, and why shouldn’t he? He was on course to getting a big score, and moreover, close of play was just 30-odd minutes away. He departed for a well made 42, and out walked another out-of-form batter in Ajinkya Rahane. KL Rahul and Rahane ensured that there were no more hiccups as both went unscathered till the end of the day’s play with India sitting pretty at 276 for 3.
With India in the driver’s seat after the first day’s play, England knew it was a matter of just 2-3 wickets and they would be into India’s long tail comprising of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammad Siraj. And as luck would have it, England struck gold in the first seven deliveries on Day 2. They got the prized scalp of KL Rahul for 129, on just the second ball of the day followed by Rahane’s wicket the next over. Soon, India found themselves in a spot of bother with the score reading 282 for 5.
Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja (India’s last recognized batting pair, needed to bat long because of India’s thin tail. And both of them were doing exactly that with a solid 49 runs partnership for the 6th wicket. Just when it looked like India were clawing their way back into the contest, Mark Wood found the edge of the Pant’s bat. Jadeja did try to play around with the tail and tried finding the odd boundary and single to keep much of the strike, but England kept pegging away. Eventually, India were bundled out for 364 and Jimmy Anderson picked up another 5-fer against India and at Lord’s.
It was now England’s turn to bat, and with the pitch easing up a bit, batting was surely going to be a lot easier. English openers Burns and Sibley started cautiously and looked to rotate strike and get in the odd boundary. The start was good but just when the batters looked to be settling in, Siraj produced two pearlers to dismiss Sibley and then Haseeb Hameed first ball. England were rattled, and India quite rightly ecstatic and delighted. Out walked the in-form Joe Root at number 4, and perhaps India’s arch-nemesis over the years.
Root looked solid from ball one, and that was a worrying sign for India. And for a change, Rory Burns looked good out there getting the boundaries as well as rotating the strike with his skipper. Both were looking really good out in the middle as England crossed the 100-run mark. Burns was all set to reach his first 50 of the series when he reached 49, but a brilliant ball by Shami wrapped him on the pads. India appealed, and up went the finger. Burns fell short of a 50 by a whisker as India got a much-needed breakthrough, just before close of play. Root and new man Bairstow played out the remaining few overs of the day as England ended on 119 for 3. At that moment, the match looked evenly poised.
More often than not, the 3rd day in Test cricket is regarded as the “moving” day. It’s on this day that we tend to have an idea as which way the match is moving towards. And so the day began with Root reaching another fifty against India, and Bairstow seemed more than happy to play second fiddle. Runs started to flow all of a sudden as both Root and Bairstow began finding the gaps pretty often. The pitch eased up considerably as the Indian seamers barely found any movement. England clawed their way back, and at lunch they found themselves at 216 for 3 with Root just 11 away from back-to-back 100’s while Bairstow had just scored his 1st 50 of the series.
Post lunch, Bairstow added a few more runs to his name before some extra bounce from Siraj found the splice of the bat and into the hands of Virat Kohli at slips. India got their breakthrough as the 121-run stand finally came to an end. Once Bairstow left, Root managed to reach his 22nd Test hundred. It never looked like he would get out soon, as he continued to pile on the runs. He did find able support, first with Buttler and then with Moeen Ali as England neared India’s 1st innings score. At 341 for 5 and just 23 runs adrift, it seemed as though England would gain a healthy lead. But Ishant Sharma came back into the attack and picked up the wickets of Ali and Sam Curran first ball, and suddenly England were 341 for 7.
Root was still out there and had crossed the 150-run mark, as India managed to get into England’s tail. The fight for the first innings lead was heating up, but with Root still out there and taking most of the strike, it seemed more likely that England would gain a lead. And that’s exactly what happened, and England crossed the 364 runs that India managed in the 1st innings. Robinson and Wood fell in the space of 8 overs as England were 7 runs ahead with one wicket in hand. But with Root still out in the middle, England fancied getting another 30-40 runs. Root managed to find a flurry of boundaries as England’s lead entered into the 20’s.
Anderson got to face the next over, so Kohli tossed the ball to Bumrah, who peppered England’s number one bowler with some fiery short balls. Some balls hit his helmet while he took a few body blows as well. The contest was heating up and a few words were exchanged too. With only one over left in the day, Kohli wanted to get the final wicket and brought back Shami onto to bowl. A rather bruised Anderson was on strike and he managed to play out 5 balls. With just a ball to go, England were hoping Anderson survives so that Root can get a chance the next day to add a few more runs as well as perhaps even reached a double hundred. But Shami pitched the ball up to Anderson, who tried to drive but the ball missed his bat and clattered his off stump. England’s innings ended with 391 runs on the board and Root unbeaten on 180 with an overall lead of 27 runs. The match was still pretty much in the balance, you could say.
Out walked the Indian openers with 27 runs behind. Anderson and Robinson bowled tight lines as run making seemed rather difficult. Rahul and Rohit looked cautious as England set an attacking field. The English bowlers persisted with the fourth stump line and finally it paid off. Wood managed to find the nick as the centurion in the first innings was sent packing. After Rahul’s dismissal, Wood bowled a barrage of bouncers to Rohit, who did well to hook one into the stands for a glorious six. But a couple of balls later, he tried to hit one too many and found the fielder in the deep. At 27 for 2, the scores were level but England were in a commanding position.
Kohli joined Pujara in the middle, as England continued to bowl the good length deliveries. The India captain looked good once again, but just when he looked like settling it, Sam Curran found the outside edge to dent India further. The score read 55 for 3 with a lead of just 28. And with Pujara and Rahane in the middle, who were going through a dry run with the bat, the writing was pretty much on the wall, you’d imagine. But Pujara and Rahane batted and batted and batted, eating up deliveries. Although the runs weren’t coming at a decent pace, but they were ensuring India did not lose any more wickets. The duo batted for almost 50 overs and collected 100 runs between them. Just when it looked like India were slowly making their way back into the contest, Wood delivered a back of a length ball that kicked off the surface. Pujara had to play at it, but due to the awkward bounce, it hit the top half of the bat and went straight to the wide-ish fielder at gully. The partnership was broken and Pujara’s (45 runs) long vigil that consumed 206 balls was over.
Run making was surely difficult and despite a dogged stand between Rahane and Pujara, India were just 128 runs ahead with just an hour’s play left in the day. Rahane completed his 50, but perished to Moeen’s spin and Jadeja who walked in next, did not trouble the scorers too much. India were pegged back and all the hard work done by Rahane and Pujara seemed to have fizzled out. Pant was the only recognized batter left and India’s lead was just 154 runs at the close of the 4th day’s play.
It didn’t look good for Team India, and seeing India’s tail not last long during the first innings, we all feared the worst. And speaking of India’s thin tail, I did happen to ask a question regarding India’s tail to ESPN CricInfo via their #PoliteEnquiries segment. And quite luckily, the ESPN CricInfo team selected my question. Although I was delighted to see my question get picked, I was rather disappointed because it did not look good for Team India in the 2nd Test.
Day 5 – Part 1
India’s hopes lay all on Rishabh Pant, hoping that the lad from Delhi could score some runs with the tail and at least try and take India’s lead over the 200-run mark. He showed some intent, like he always does with bat in hand, and crunched Anderson through the covers for a fantastic boundary. But his stay at the crease was short lived as Ollie Robinson found the nick and Buttler gobbled it up with much fuss. At this point, India’s hopes took a massive blow. Their last recognized batter was gone and the lead was a mere 150-odd runs.
All that was left was India’s fragile tail. That’s it! Ishant was joined in by Shami, and with every run they managed to score, the Indian dressing room clapped with glee. Ishant hit a couple of good boundaries as India’s lead neared the 200-run mark. But just when the Indians started to gain some hope back, Robinson bowled a slower ball which deceived Ishant. It hit him on the pads, dead straight. Although Ishant did review it, but it was all in vain!
Bumrah walked in next, and everyone was eager to see the Anderson versus Bumrah contest. Although Anderson was not into the attack, the other English bowlers peppered Bumrah with short balls, just like he did to their mate Anderson. Bumrah took some blows on the helmet, but managed to stick around in the middle with Shami. England’s plan of ‘giving it back’ to India’s tail with the short ball ploy didn’t seem to be working in their favour. Bumrah and Shami looked rather comfortable at the crease. And with every run they scored, the Indian supporters at Lord’s as well as the Indian dressing room, erupted with joy. Soon, the boundaries started to flow and the lead began to swell.
England were in desperate need for a wicket and introduced Moeen Ali back into the back. And seeing the spinner into the attack, Shami did not hold back and started thwarting him for a couple of big hits. While doing so, he reached his 2nd ever Test 50. What a turn around it was! Bumrah too got into the act and hit a few good boundaries of his own. The partnership swelled to 89 runs and the lead over 270+, and that was that. Kohli looked satisfied and called his lead bowlers back in the hut. India declared at 298 for 8, with a lead of 271 and thus settling England a target of 272 runs in 60-odd overs. Meanwhile, both Shami (56*) and Bumrah (34*) had just scored their highest Test scores for Team India!
Day 5 – Part 2
With just 60 overs to go in the Test, it looked as though we were heading towards a stalemate. But Bumrah and Shami, after their miraculous batting efforts, took the new ball and picked up the English openers Burns and Sibley for zero, respectively. England were already 2 down inside 2 overs, and already turned to Root to bail them out for a sticky situation once again. It could have gotten a lot worse for England when Haseeb Hameed nicked one, but Rohit Sharma was unable to pounce on the opportunity. Around 10 to 12 overs later, Ishant produced a lovely delivery that hit Hameed on the pads. The Indian team went up with a loud appeal and the umpire raised the finger to give India another breakthrough.
Root was still out there and with Bairstow walking in next, England were hoping they could repeat their partnership from the 1st innings. But just on the stroke of Tea, Ishant got the ball to tail in, and it hit Bairstow on the pads. A loud appeal followed but the umpire was unmoved as he thought the ball hit the batter a bit too high. Kohli was not convinced and although his reviews in the Test weren’t up to the mark, but this one was absolute gold. The replays showed three reds, and umpire Gough had to reverse his decision. England were 67 for 4 as the players headed inside for tea. At this moment, only 2 results seemed possible – an Indian win or a draw. England had lost the plot here on day 5 and it was only going to get worse for them.
The final session was underway with India needing 6 more wickets. Three balls into the final session, and guess what, Bumrah managed to draw Root into a false shot. He nicked off, and Virat in slips captured it with utmost delight. Root gone, and probably the hopes of England saving this Test match! A couple of overs later, it would have gotten worse for England as Buttler edged one to first slip, but skipper Kohli couldn’t quite get his hands together. Buttler got a life, and England a huge reprieve. Moeen and Buttler were cautious. All they had on their minds were to play out the session and take the draw. They batted and batted, eating up deliveries. As the overs started to go by, India’s chances of winning dwindled!
In search of a wicket were India and Kohli turned to his fourth seamer, Mohammad Siraj. And boy oh boy, did he deliver the goods. First, he found the edge of Moeen’s bat, and the next ball, he sent Sam Curran packing (who btw, recorded a dreaded record of becoming the first ever cricketer to score a king pair at Lord’s). The crowd went berserk, and all the Indian players were ecstatic. They were now just 3 wickets away from completing a historic come-from-behind Test victory. But the job was not done yet nor was it going to be easy, especially with Buttler still at the crease and Robinson, Wood, and Anderson to follow, all of whom were no mugs with the bat.
Buttler and Robinson started to eat up deliveries, and with every passing over, it was getting tougher and tougher for India to pull off the win. Soon, the umpires signaled the last hour of play, and with just 15 more overs to go, it was getting very intense. 15 overs became 14, then 13, then 12, 11, 10. We were now down to the final 10 overs and 3 wickets were still left. Kohli had already brought Bumrah into the attack and hoped that his talisman would do something special once again. Bumrah went round the wicket to try something different, and BOOM, he deceived Robinson with a slower delivery. The ball missed the bat and hit the batter on the pads. Huge appeal! But the umpire was unmoved. Discussions in the Indian camp led to Virat Kohli sending the decision upstairs. Hoping against the hope, the replays were in. The ball pitched in line, impact was in line, and wickets hitting. THEE REDS. That was it! The umpire had to change his decision, and India were just 2 away now.
Kohli and company were now inches away from going 1-0 up in the 5-match series. The skipper decided to bring back Siraj, and Jos Buttler who had faced 95 balls till then, made an error in judgment. After leaving so many balls outside the off stump, he decided to poke at one, which ended bitterly for him and for England. 9 wickets down, and India were now just 1 wicket away. Anderson walked in, and two balls later, just like the first innings, he saw his stumps get uprooted.
That was it. India had won. By 151 runs.
They beat England. They beat time. They managed to turn it around on the final day. What a Test match. Simply staggering to say the least!
A quite remarkable Test at the Home of Cricket, to say the least! The Test swung like a pendulum, right from the first day till the last. Day 5 began with England in the ascendancy, but at lunch time, India gained the upper hand and quite remarkably too. Then at tea time, it seemed as though the match was heading towards a draw perhaps. But then the Indian quicks came to the party and scripted a sensational Test win. Wow, Test cricket, you absolute beauty! T20 cricket and ODI cricket may be good, but Test cricket is the real deal. Not only for the players but also for us fans! It is indeed the best form of cricket by a country mile!