From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.34 :: NO.32 :: Aug. 11, 2011
The final day of the 2000th Test witnessed scenes never seen before at Lord's: queues that engulfed St. John's Wood, where the Home of Cricket is located; a crowd, split between India and England, which was as rowdy as it was polite; groups of children playing the game with plastic bats and soft balls at every available open space when not thronging the pathway between the ground and the nets at the Nursery End to catch a glimpse of their favourite cricketers.
If, as Indian captain M. S. Dhoni said, a large percentage of the next 2000 Tests have the success the milestone Test has had in showcasing cricket's grandest, most fulfilling form, there'll be nothing to complain about.
The Test ebbed and flowed, but England's superiority was evident on every day. Kevin Pietersen set the match up with a double-hundred of two parts. The first came on the first day of the match when England was inserted in overcast conditions on a damp pitch. The big man restrained his instincts to graft it out. He didn't always look convincing, but never did his application to the task waver.
On the second, he settled to punish India's bowling which had begun to tire after Zaheer Khan had limped off on the first evening with a hamstring strain, forced to end a typically crafty spell of bowling.
Pietersen had allies in his quest to seize control: Jonathan Trott batted quite splendidly against some fine swing-and-seam bowling, proving why he's the most talked-about batsman in recent times; Ian Bell played a typically attractive knock that fell just short of being innings-turning; Matt Prior managed what Bell didn't.
For India, Praveen Kumar ensured his name was engraved on the prestigious Lord's honours board. He bowled with great energy, swinging the ball a great deal both ways to pose a distinct threat to England's batsmen despite his lack of pace. Every one of his five wickets was richly deserved.
Although Rahul Dravid constructed an innings for the ages — a century made from the Dravid Abroad mould — India failed to pass 300 and conceded a 188-run lead. Dravid's first century at Lord's was supplemented by a brilliant cameo from Sachin Tendulkar, but the touring team needed substance not style.
India has often struggled in its first innings overseas, and this proved the difference in the Test. What made it worse for India was that its openers Abhinav Mukund and Gautam Gambhir had started soundly.
England's bowlers swung the ball with the regularity of the country's underground service — though not as prodigiously as Praveen, which is perhaps why they got the batsmen to edge not miss the ball — and Stuart Broad finished with four wickets.
James Anderson shows the ball to the crowd after his match-winning spell. The English paceman picked up five wickets in India's second innings.
It was Ishant Sharma's turn to step up for India. This he did with such ferocity on the fourth day that England looked in danger of having to protect a chaseable target. But Dhoni rested Ishant in the period after lunch, allowing England to regain control.
Prior made an unbeaten century, raising 162 for the unbroken sixth wicket with Broad to destroy India's chances of a surprise come-from-behind win.
In both innings, India's fielding and keeping cost it dearly; although England's catching was no better, the bowlers continually created chances, which India's three-man attack, barring Praveen and Ishant's hot phases, couldn't.
Asked to bat the best part of four sessions for a draw, India's batting under-performed a second time. The order of the line-up varied because Gambhir was hit on the elbow and couldn't open, and Tendulkar had a viral infection and couldn't bat till he spent as much time in the dressing room as he had during the England innings.
James Anderson was the wrecker-in-chief with five wickets, but he was supported by some fine bowling from Broad and Chris Tremlett.
After Dravid and V. V. S. Laxman's brave batting on the fourth evening, Suresh Raina resisted with 78 on the fifth day, but England wouldn't be denied.
Speaking after the 196-run defeat, Dhoni said “everything that could go wrong went wrong”. He admitted that Zaheer's absence had hurt the side when bowling; the batting, he said, failed to come to terms with the variable bounce of the wicket. Dhoni's counterpart, Andrew Strauss, hailed the efforts of his bowlers, saying he had rarely seen them bowl with such sustained excellence.
Although Broad made a strong case with wickets in both innings and an unbeaten half-century, Kevin Pietersen was adjudged the Man of the Match for a knock Strauss described as one of the best he had seen.
England 1st innings: A. J. Strauss c Sharma b Khan 22; A. N. Cook lbw b Khan 12; I. J. L. Trottlbw b Kumar 70; K. P. Pietersen (not out) 202; I. R. Bell c Dhoni b Kumar 45; E. J. G. Morgan c Dhoni b Kumar 0; M. J. Prior c Dhoni b Kumar 71; S. C. J. Broad lbw b Kumar 0; G. P. Swann b Raina 24; C. T. Tremlett (not out) 4; Extras (b 14, lb 8, w 1, nb 1) 24; Total (for eight wkts. decl.) 474.
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-62, 3-160, 4-270, 5-270, 6-390, 7-390, 8-451.
India bowling: Zaheer Khan 13.3-8-18-2; Praveen Kumar 40.3-10-106-5; I. Sharma 32-5-128-0; Harbhajan Singh 35-3-152-0; Dhoni 8-1-23-0; Raina 2.4-1-25-1.
India 1st innings: A. Mukund b Broad 49; G. Gambhir b Broad 15; R. Dravid (not out) 103; S. R. Tendulkarc Swann b Broad34; V. V. S. Laxman c Trott b Tremlett 10;S. K. Raina lbw b Swann 0; M. S. Dhoni c Swann b Tremlett 28; Harbhajan Singh c Prior b Tremlett 0; P. Kumar c Strauss b Broad 17; Zaheer Khan b Anderson 0; I. Sharma c Prior b Anderson 0; Extras (b 5, lb 12, w 1, nb 12) 30; Total 286.
Fall of wickets: 1-63, 2-77, 3-158, 4-182, 5-183, 6-240, 7-241, 8-276, 9-284.
England bowling: Anderson 23.5-6-87-2; Tremlett 24-5-80-3; Broad 22-8-37-4; Trott 6-1-12-0; Swann 19-3-50-1; Pietersen 1-0-3-0.
England 2nd innings: A. J. Strauss lbw b Harbhajan Singh 32; A. N. Cook c Dhoni b Kumar 1; I. J. L. Trott b Sharma 22; K. P. Pietersen c Dhoni b Sharma 1; I. R. Bell c Dhoni b Sharma 0; E. J. G. Morgan c Gambhir b Sharma 19; M. J. Prior (not out) 103; S. C. J. Broad (not out) 74; Extras (b 7, lb 8, w 2) 17; Total (for six wkts. decl.) 269.
Fall of wickets: 1-23, 2-54, 3-55, 4-55, 5-62, 6-107.
India bowling: Praveen Kumar 20-2-70-1; Sharma 22-6-59-4; Harbhajan Singh 21-1-66-1; Raina 6-1-43-0; Dhoni 2-0-16-0.
India 2nd innings: A. Mukund b Broad 12; R. Dravid c Prior b Anderson 36; V. V. S. Laxman c Bell b Anderson 56; G. Gambhir lbw b Swann 22; S. R. Tendulkar lbw b Anderson 12; S. K. Raina c Prior b Anderson 78; M. S. Dhoni c Prior b Tremlett 16; Harbhajan Singh c Tremlett b Anderson 12; Praveen Kumar b Broad 2; Zaheer Khan (not out) 0; I. Sharma lbw b Broad 1; Extras (b 2, lb 6, nb 6) 14;Total 261.
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-94, 3-131, 4-135, 5-165, 6-225, 7-243, 8-256, 9-260.
England bowling: Anderson 28-7-65-5; Tremlett 21-4-44-1; Broad 20.3-4-57-3; Swann 22-3-64-1; Trott 2-0-11-0; Pietersen 3-0-12-0.
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