India in deep hole on another rain-hit day

Opener M Vijay is cleaned up by England's James Anderson on the second day of the second Test at Lord's in London on Friday. AFP

It was another frustrating day at Lord’s as rain had its say for the second day running but England found enough time to cause some serious damage to India in the second Test here on Friday.

After the opening day was abandoned following rain, nice warm sunshine greeted the players as the packed Lord’s waited in anticipation for an exciting battle. But only 8.3 overs of action was possible on a heavily truncated day with India tottering at 15/3 at tea. The action-packed 51 balls were played in two sets — 6.3 overs in the morning and then 12 balls in the afternoon — leaving fans who had packed the "Home of Cricket" disappointed.

Although it was bright and sunny at the time of toss, rain was forecast for the afternoon and England skipper Joe Root had no hesitation in asking India to bat first on a wicket that had a fair sprinkling of grass. With dark clouds hovering around, the setting was tailor-made for James Anderson and Co.

A master at getting the ball to talk tellingly in such conditions, the 36-year-old Anderson feasted on the meal on offer. Every delivery he sent down carried loads of venom and Murali Vijay was the first one to be stung, his stay lasting a mere five balls. To a ball that was shaping in, Vijay instinctively leaned to play the flick only to see the ball swing the other way right at the end and disturb his stumps.

At the other end, Stuart Broad initially kept spraying the ball all over but he got his act together quickly to make things hard for KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara, who replaced Shikhar Dhawan. Both Rahul and Pujara struggled to put bat to ball in conditions that were unforgiving and relentless. India finally got off the mark after 3.4 overs, Rahul driving a pitched up Broad ball for a boundary.

Another beauty from Anderson then sent Rahul packing. The ball shaped in initially and the opener trudged forward to play a defensive shot. The ball, however, swung slightly away late again, taking Rahul’s edge into the safe hands of wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.

India skipper Virat Kohli then made the walk past the Long Room much sooner than he had hoped for. The stage was set for a fine duel between the numero uno batsman in Test cricket and master bowler exploiting the conditions to the hilt. The fans though were denied of this battle as rain came down, halting play.

Play resumed after nearly two and half hours of stoppage but conditions were still trying. It was dark and cloudy with the lights turned on. Pujara and Kohli though seemed like they were up for the battle. There were lots of oohs and aahs but they managed to soldier on before a moment of misunderstanding cost Pujara his wicket.

Puajra tapped the ball to point and called for a single. Kohli responded and Pujara was off the blocks in a flash only to be left stranded midway down the pitch when his skipper backed off. Pujara wasn’t a happy man and rightfully so. In his 25-ball stay, he looked to have corrected the mistakes of the 2014 tour by narrowing the gap between his bat and pad. And just when he was walking back dejected, England scampered to the dressing room as heavy rain started to pound the venue.

 

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India in deep hole on another rain-hit day

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