Oh what a proud feeling, India beats England at Lord’s

By Kersi Meher-Homji

The last two days have given us triple celebrations. Sunday was India’s Independence Day, Monday morning dawned Parsi community’s Navroz (New Year) and Monday night saw India beat England by 151 runs in the second cricket Test at Lord’s to lead the series 1-0.

So many heroes for India, opening batsmen KL (Lokesh) Rahul (129 runs) and Rohit Sharma (83) gave India an excellent start of 126 runs. Then Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli (40) added 117 runs for the third wicket. With Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja batting aggressively, India totaled 364. England’s experienced fast bowler Jimmy Anderson took 5 for 62 to keep India under 400.

In the second innings, out of form Indian batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane added 100 runs for the fourth wicket and when everything seemed lost, tail end batsmen Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah put on 89 precious runs for the unbroken ninth wicket on the final day. Fast medium bowler Mohammad Siraj took vital wickets to ensure an Indian victory.

But I am going ahead of the story.

England’s captain Joe Root batted magnificently to stroke a masterful and unbeaten 180, adding 85 runs with opener Rory Burns (49) for the third wicket and 121 runs with Jonny Bairstow (57) for the fourth wicket. England totaled 391, a lead of 27 runs. The tall quickie Ishant Sharma took 3 for 69 and the emotion-charged Siraj 4 for 94. The only disappointment was Bumrah bowling 13 no-balls in his 26 overs, including four no-balls in one over.

Trailing by 27 runs India started their second innings badly, losing 2 for 27 and 3 for 55. Facing defeat, Pujara (45) and Rahane (61) came to India’s rescue as stated earlier.

Still England held the upper hand when the final day commenced, India having lost six of their best batsmen for only 181 runs with only Pant and the tail remaining. When India’s last hope Pant was dismissed, it seemed all over for India. NOT SO!

India’s tail wagged valiantly as Shami (56) and Bumrah (34) added 89 match-winning runs and Kohli declared at 8 for 298 setting England 272 runs to chase on the final pulsating day.

India’s pace attack of Bumrah and Shami started sensationally and England lost both their openers for ducks. What a day for Shami and Bumrah, shining with both bat and ball! Root and Jos Buttler survived for a while but Bumrah (3 for 33) and Siraj (4 for 32) sent them packing.

England was all out for only 120 to lose by 151 runs. For capturing 8 for 126 in the match I thought Siraj had a good chance to be adjudged Man of the Match. But the honour went to opening batsman Lokesh Rahul for his magnificent 126 on the first day.

At the presentation, India captain Virat Kohli summed up,Super proud of the whole team, the way we stuck to our plans, being put in our performance with the bat was outstanding. Pitch didn’t offer much on first three days. But the way we played in the second innings, under pressure, from Jasprit and Shami was outstanding. We thought with 60 overs to go we could have a crack, and they were outstanding. A bit of tension on the field really motivated us to finish the game. [Clapping Shami and Bumrah off]. Wanted to let them know that we appreciated what they did, and they took the new ball and made breakthroughs for us.

“When we were most successful, our lower order was contributing, we went away from that a bit away from home but they are putting in the hard work with the coaches. The belief and the desire is there, to do the job for the team. Last time was special, Ishant bowled outstandingly. But this one, to get a result in 60 overs, is quite special. With someone like Siraj playing at Lord’s for the first time and bowling as he did was outstanding.

“We decided 60 [overs] was our mark, crucial breakthroughs were great for us and we carried on from there. Second half of the day, we thought we were on top and our fans got behind us. We feed off the energy of the crowd as well. [Independence Day win]. The best gift we can give to India, but we have three more Test matches and we can’t sit on our laurels.”

India leads the five Test series 1-0 with three Tests still to go. The third Test starts at Leeds on 25th August.

I may add that during this Test over 1.2 million pounds were raised for the Ruth Strauss [Cancer] Foundation Fund.

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