India wilt under English attack

England's James Anderson celebrates after dismissing India's Ishant Sharma on the second day of the second Test at Lord's in London on Friday. AFP

The Indians were forced to spend a lot of the time in the hallowed Lord’s dressing room after rain washed away a majority of the second day’s play too. By the time stumps were drawn, they found the venerated place suffocating as hell following another abject performance against a red-hot English pace attack.

In the 6.3 overs that was possible in the morning session before heavy rain halted proceedings, openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay fell victim to the brilliance of James Anderson (5/20). Then, following a two and half hours stoppage when skies stayed clear for 12 balls of action, a mad piece of running between Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara saw the latter depart to leave Indians reeling at 15/3. Finally, with the sun shining brightly, they withered away to 107 all out in a mere 35.2 overs.

Unless they produce a spectacular performance with the ball on Saturday where sunny weather is the prediction, they could be staring at a pasting despite lots of time being lost in the game.

England skipper Joe Root won a very good toss and he had no hesitation in asking India to take first strike, hoping to make the most of the cloudy weather and a pitch that had a fair sprinkling of grass. A master at getting the ball to talk in such conditions, James Anderson feasted on the meal on offer. Every delivery he sent down carried loads of venom and M 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 it 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 Rahul and Pujara, who replaced Shikhar Dhawan. Both Rahul and Pujara struggled to put bat to ball in conditions that were unforgiving and bowling relentlessly hostile. 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 the battle as rain came down, halting play.

The gloom was not only written large over the fans’ faces but the Indians as well, a mini outing in the afternoon saw them gift away a wicket to England. 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.

This was followed by another long delay and then a long procession to the dressing room when play resumed. Kohli and Ajinkya seemed like staging a resurrection despite the former looking very uncomfortable against Chris Woakes (2/19). He edged twice, was dropped once but when Jos Buttler held onto a sitter off Woakes, India were in shambles.

 

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India wilt under English attack

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