Ten English wickets in less than two sessions. A pitch on the fifth day that made critics sigh over the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin. The game situation in which a draw at the beginning of the day would have been considered an honorable result.
All of these factors could have caused the Indian pacemakers to relax. Nobody would have cursed them. Instead, they wowed with their talent, intimidated with their presence without resorting to too many bouncers, and showed their creativity to break through any English resistance.
Jasprit Bumrah dug deep to produce a vicious leg cutter to remove the seemingly impregnable Joe Root, Ishant Sharma nailed a perfect nip-backer to take out the form-strong Jonny Bairstow, Mohammed Shami ruffled the opener Dom Sibley with a ball that should have tested Geoffrey Boycott, and Mohammed Siraj made a straightening iron that could knock down the feisty Jos Buttler.
Not only did they do the usual things exceptionally well, but they were also very creative. When it looked like Ollie Robinson wasn’t moving, Bumrah produced one of the greatest slower balls in the final crucial minutes of the friendly. As Mooen Ali kept pushing his bat in line with his away curlers, Siraj forced his hands by getting a full ball to move away from the line of the stumps.
That abundance of riches – a four-pronged tempo attack – is a far cry from the early and mid 1970s, the worst of times for Indian fast-paced bowling, when Abid Ali shared the new ball with Eknath Solkar or the occasional certain Sunil Gavaskar. The current Indian almost bowling cartel is a four pronged attack that harasses and beats up opposing batsmen, in addition to taking 39 England wickets in the first two Tests. On a fifth day of Lord’s Pitch, which at first glance required Ashwin’s ruse, the four Indian fast bowlers cleared the hosts in 51.5 overs to win the Test.
Bumrah and Shami were the expected threats to Joe Root and his companions. But Siraj and Ishant have also raised their game so much that they seriously influence the result of the test. Removing Ishan’s one-two punch to remove Moeen Ali and Sam Curran in the first innings brought his team back to the competition. Siraj’s sackings of the two batsmen from consecutive balls during England’s second innings brought India closer to victory. Ishant bore rust and pressure to be chosen for the game over Ashwin, but he came through with flying colors, with a matchhaul of 5/82. Siraj played for Lord’s for the first time and returned with a matchhaul of 8/126. The hit heroes of Shami and Bumrah put India in a victorious position. Team performance ensured victory.
Courageous reputation has been proven right
The Lord’s field was grass, but much shorter than what was offered on Trent Bridge. The surface gradually became very good for hitting. Understandably, the omission of Ashwin had raised many eyebrows. However, Kohli stuck to his four-step template and used it as an attack option. His decision was spectacularly confirmed. The much talked about Lord’s Slope played a role in the decision-making process.
Both Ishant and Siraj are essentially incoming bowlers who don’t have very strong outswingers. You can get the ball to hold its line, however, and their ability to use the seam made it very effective for rolling both up and down the slope.
Lord’s has an east-west slope that is 2.5 meters long from top to bottom and runs diagonally from the left side of the pavilion across the playing field to the media box at Nursery End. Normally, bowlers with a natural insinger prefer to skittle the slopes. Sometimes when they are bowling up the hill their warehouse deliveries straighten. Siraj’s strength is that the ball bounces back from the surface. He used the slope intelligently to sack Sibley in the first innings.
A plan was laid out with two field players nearby on the leg side. Siraj bowled a long ball on Sibley’s balls, which lined the surface. The England prelude was caught by the piste swamp. He played early and the leading edge went to KL Rahul on the short mid-wicket.
Siraj is fast becoming important to India because of its wicket take capability. In Australia last winter, he was the team’s top wicket taker and led an attack at a slower pace.
The 27-year-old has given the Indian seam attack a new dimension. This Tempo Battery is a complete package – Bumrah’s all-round ability, Shami’s swing and deceptive hop, Ishan’s movement and bounce, and Siraj’s seam and long spell casting ability. Three of them can drive over 140 km / h. It was also amazing how Siraj successfully climbed the incline in his first test at Lord’s. Former Indian pacemaker Manoj Prabhakar was impressed.
“He cleaned one (Haseeb Hameed) with a cross sewing machine. It slid off the surface instead of sliding down the hill. The batsman played inside the line and was thrown. You have to be the right length (good length) to take full advantage of the incline, which Siraj did. In addition, his arm is straight when swinging in, which is important for a bowler at Lord’s. And he can bowl near the tree stumps, ”Prabhakar told The Indian Express.
Veteran comes to the party
As for Ishant, Buttler’s wicket sparked a resuscitation in the first innings. An inswinger went through the gate when Buttler tried to play an expansive drive. The slope has once again played its part. Ishant was a horse selection at Lord’s. Seven years ago, his best 7/74 of his career, India had won a Test at this location. In his happy hunting ground, Ishant was back in his element.
“The arm has to be straight and high to take full advantage of the incline. When Ishant Inswinger is bowling, he bowling them with a high arm action, one reason why he is successful at Lord’s, ”noted Prabhakar.
Dilip Vengsarkar, the ‘Lord of Lord’s’ with three centuries on-site, agreed that the slope can confuse batsmen. “You see, in England the ball moves. It’s not that the ball comes down the slope or moves up the hill. The ball also moves in the air and that has to be negotiated. The correct approach is to not keep the slope factor in mind, play the ball on merit and play late like Rohit Sharma does. I am very happy with the way India played bowling. As for Siraj, he always skittles to take wickets. Ishant used all his experience, ”the former captain of India told the newspaper.
Open-chest gaming became the greatest problem facing the English batsmen, Root ruled out. For example, Sibley got out against a Shami outswinger in the second innings and got straight in his stance while aiming for a defensive push. “Cricket is a side game when you hit and bow. It has not changed in 200 years, ”wrote Geoffrey Boycott in his Telegraph column (London).
The two teams are now moving north to Leeds for the third Test, with India carrying the pace intimidation factor.