England recover to deflate India

India's Mohammed Shami (çentre) celebrates after dismissing England's Joe Root on the third day of the second Test at Lord's in London on Saturday. AFP

Nice crisp sunshine replaced the murky weather of Friday. The doom and gloom, however, remained writ large on the faces of the Indians as the England middle-order staged a superb counter-attack here on Saturday.

After being bowled out for a paltry 107 in admittedly hostile conditions, the Indians needed a spectacular bowling performance with the ball to even make something out of this contest. Mohammed Shami (3/67) and Ishant Sharma (1/66) did exactly that in a fine morning session but India, playing a genuine pacer less after pinning their faith on chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, struggled to maintain the same intensity post lunch as England took tea at 230/5, a commanding lead of 123 runs.

The pugnacious Johnny Bairstow was the architect of the England fightback, stroking a calculated 62 not out, while all-rounder Chris Woakes was equally effective, hammering a busy 55 not out. The two half-centuries knocked the stuffing out of the Indians and with another session coming up, they appear to be in for some serious leather hunt. Their only hope of avoiding a second defeat is the rain that’s been predicted for most of Sunday. If the rain doesn’t keep its date, then the misfiring batting line-up will need to produce a back-to-wall performance that seems extremely implausible at the moment.

Bairstow, who hit a 70 in the first innings at Edgbaston, yet again turned out to be a thorn in India’s flesh with his daring approach. Joining forces with skipper Joe Root, who departed at the stroke of lunch, Bairstow first flattened the confidence of the Indians with a flashy start to the second session. He and limited-over wicketkeeper Jos Buttler (28, 38b) hardly allowed the Indians a chance of staging a remarkable comeback, blasting pacers Shami and Ishant from the onset.

The duo, after helping England move past India’s total, kept scoring at almost seven runs per over to deflate the visitors completely. Shami, who was brilliant in the morning, then injected some life by trapping Buttler leg before wicket. That, however, proved to be a false dawn as Woakes and Bairstow completely decimated them.

Woakes, who claimed the key wicket of Virat Kohli on Friday, showed why he’s considered a dangerous all-rounder. Not only was he aggressive against the pacers, he attacked spinners R Ashwin and Kuldeep to leave Virat Kohli searching for options. Kuldeep, picked as an attacking bowler, wasn’t effective at all with both Woakes and Bairstow easily reading his chinaman and googlies. Ashwin, introduced into the attack as late as the 39th over, wasn’t able to impose himself like he did in the opening Test.

While the second session was all about England — they scored 141 runs for the loss of just one wicket — the opening sort of belonged to India. Shami and Ishant erred in their lines and lengths early on but the moment they got their eye in, they looked very potent against openers Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings. Shami dismissed Jennings just when the game started to drift away from the Indians.

Ishant, poor in his first three overs before switching around, then prized out Cook with a fine out-swinger. A mini-partnership followed between debutante Ollie Pope and Root but when the duo perished just before lunch, India were licking their lips. But the brilliance of Bairstow and Woakes has ensured England will enjoy the desserts in the evening.

 

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England recover to deflate India

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