English pacers sink listless India

English pacers sink listless India

PUMPED up: England’s Stuart Broad (left) celebrates with skipper Joe Root after dismissing Dinesh Karthik on Sunday. AFP

Indians dished out another lifeless, heartless and gutless batting performance to suffer a chastening defeat against England in the second Test here on Sunday.

When England skipper Joe Root declared their innings at 396/7 — a massive lead of 289 runs — after batting for around 40 minutes in the morning, the Indians needed the predicted rain and a massive miracle to save themselves from defeat. The rain did come down at Lord’s but for not as long as they would have envisioned as ace pacers James Anderson (4/23) and Stuart Broad (4/44) blowed them away to power England to a comprehensive innings and 159-run victory. England, with a 2-0 lead, are now the clear favourites to retain the Pataudi Trophy.

Moment openers Murali Vijay and KL Rahul strode in to the crease with dark clouds hovering around the stadium on a chilly summer morning, one could easily figure out that was the last thing they wanted to do. The weather, almost akin to Friday when they were ransacked by Anderson, was testing. Short of runs and confidence, they looked edgy from the onset, making them sitting ducks for the veteran English pacer who yet again gave his side a roaring start.

Anderson first sent Vijay packing for a pair, the ball seaming in and catching the inside edge of the right-hander before landing into the safe hands of wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. Having gotten out for an out-swinger in the first innings, Vijay tried to cover that angle but the ball this time too was simply exceptional.

Very soon Rahul joined him in the dressing room — undone by a similar seaming-in ball. With no footwork whatsoever, he was trapped flush leg-before wicket. Chesteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane staged a mini resurrection of sorts when the first rain disruption came to their rescue. Following a 90-minute stoppage, Pujara and Rahane resumed their fight but they knew the task in front of them was monumental with skipper Virat Kohli nursing a “back stiffness” from the morning. Both showed some heart but the English bowling showed signs of easing their foot of the pedal. Anderson and Chris Woakes followed by Broad and Sam Curran just kept coming at them like hungry predators. That relentless attack from the quartet forced Rahane to flash at a wide Broad delivery that cost him his wicket.

At the other end, Pujara managed to somehow survive. Broad bowled a brilliant over — 25th — where the Saurashtrian was beaten almost every ball, the pacer unlucky to have not got a wicket. Broad got his reward in his very next ever though, crashing through the defences of Pujara. Not only did it end his 87-ball resistance but opened the floodgates.

Kohli, seemingly affected by the back trouble, didn’t last long either and when Karthik walked in and walked out, it looked like India may roll up for less than a 100. But R Ashwin and Hardik Pandya saved them from that ignominy with composure and grit that was not to be seen in any of the top-order batsmen.

Ashwin even got two blows to his bowling finger but he refused to throw in the towel despite the team being utterly battered. He and Pandya kept delaying the inevitable when Woakes, whose unbeaten century powered England to the huge total, decided to swing it back the hosts’ way. He trapped Pandya left-before wicket and the tail then caved in quickly as young England side celebrated a dominating win which technically was done inside two days.

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