Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India pace bowler Ishant Sharma registered his career-best bowling figures of 7-74 to lead his side to a 95-run victory over England in the second Test at Lord’s.
However, even though England’s batsmen kept falling victim to Sharma one after another, Joe Root rose from the rubble and scored a valiant 66 to spare his side from being humiliated even more.
Starting out the day on 105/4, Root and all-rounder Moeen Ali converted their 33-run partnership into a 101-run partnership, during which Root brought up his half-century, before Ali gloved a delivery from Sharma to Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg on the last ball before lunch.
Things went absolutely haywire for England after the lunch break as wicketkeeper Matt Prior was caught by Murali Vijay at deep midwicket for 12 after attempting one pull shot too many off the bowling of Sharma.
Ben Stokes was caught by Pujara at midwicket off the bowling of Sharma for a duck after he also failed to properly execute the pull shot.
Sharma struck again just three balls later when Root fell for the short ball trap and pulled the delivery straight down Stuart Binny’s throat at deep square leg.
Root’s fighting knock of 66 came off 146 balls and included seven boundaries.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Stuart Broad only made eight runs before he was caught behind to give Sharma his career-best bowling figures.
India all-rounder finished things off when he ironically ran out James Anderson for two runs.
Sharma was easily the pick of the bowlers with seven wickets, while Jadeja and Mohammed Shami claimed one wicket each.
England captain Alastair Cook was gutted to have lost the match, and said: “It’s a tough defeat, I think we have to give India a lot of credit, they have outbowled and outbatted us. Last innings as well, the pitch was turning and bouncing, good toss to win. Credit to India, they left very well.
“[It was] Definitely an issue of confidence, and getting over the finish line. There’s a group of players desperate to win for England. [It’s] Going to take a lot of determination to turn this around. A lot of our performances have been by the younger guys, that’s good for English cricket. Yes, the older guys are not playing as well as their record suggest, same for myself, I have to start scoring runs as well.
“He’s [Prior] got a serious amount of talent, at the moment I think he’s the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the country, every single guy has to earn his place in the side, he’s a fighter, the sort of guy you want in the dressing room.
“I’m trying my heart out to turn this around. First and foremost, I have to start scoring runs. [The] Recent past hasn’t been kind to me, but I have won some games as captain as well.”
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was pleased to have taken a 1-0 lead in the five-Test series, and said: “Memorable win for us, not many players have played Test cricket in England, their approach was brilliant, it was a fantastic performance. It was a very crucial toss, I felt there was something for the fast bowlers, there was a bit of moisture in the wicket, which meant the fast bowlers could exploit that.
“I think the openers and No. 3, [the ball] was not bowled to them, but they made sure they were not playing all those deliveries. Later on they pushed the England bowlers to bowl at them. You want the opposition to bowl more than 90 overs because once they do that it becomes slightly difficult for them even when the tailenders come in there is more tendency of committing a mistake when you are slightly more tired.
“The batsmen are also making sure they get out to good deliveries…overall the whole batting department did really well. I think we learnt from the 2011 series that it is important to stay in the game till the third day because then our spinners come into action. What they can do is give the [fast] bowlers ample rest so they can come and give a hard spell of bowling. That was something that was needed, but we were not able to do in 2011 series.
“That last over before lunch, Ishant didn’t really want to bowl short, I was like, ‘you have to bowl it,’ I turned the other way round. He got his wicket and then it gave him the confidence to keep bowling short, keep attacking the batsmen. I think it was a fantastic performance. I wanted Virat at slip to stand a bit wide [because] standing up is a bit of a lottery whether it will come to the hand or not. I thought if the batsman steps out then I will stand up, otherwise [I will] stay back.”
“Jadeja has to play that kind of game, I think the more Test cricket he plays, the more he will become a proper Test batsman. I think his technique is very good, but he is someone who doubts himself more than most. I think we have been cribbing about the lack of a quick bowling all-rounder, but we have to use the resources we have.”
Sharma was named Man of the Match, and said: “The way the batsmen played in the first innings, Ajinkya played really well in the first innings, that gave us the momentum. Also the way Vijay played, Jaddu and Bhuvi also. Cricket is a great leveller, the way MS bhai handled the team, the way he keeps on motivating the guys. I think all these wickets are not for me, it is for the captain. He told me, ‘you are tall enough, you have to bowl the bouncer,’ that’s what I did and it worked for me.”