England beat India at the Lord’s,to take a commanding winning the first nPower Test. AlthoughEngland looked ahead throughout the test, there was always an expectation that India may just manage to draw in the end, which never happened. England bowled out the visitors for 261 in their second innings just after tea on day five to take a 1-0 series lead right after the first test.
India from day one looked on the back foot, loosing Zaheer due to an injury. Despite that, the Indian team has certainly seemed to give its best on the field. Unfortunately, it was not enough to see them draw the test against a mighty home side. England are very strong on their home soil, no doubt, but then India are currently the top test team. This performance by the Indian side certainly was nowhere close to suggest of that fact. England looked better in every department of the game, be it batting, bowling or even the attitude towards the game. England players looked more aggressive and agile on the field. If anything, they dropped a few catches which was in favor of India.
If onethinks India was crippled by the absence of Zaheer Khan, it is not a good enough reason to justify a test match loss. The team is made of 11 individuals and if one is out, others are still there to keep the team going. With the exclusion of Zaheer, the bowling department suffered the most, but many would agree that it was the batting that led India down.
India didn’t look like making England out twice and take the series and although the bowling of Sharma and Praveen lacked the sharpness needed to bother the English batsmen, they been very good in patches, rather it can be said that they have surpassed expectations. India in its batting order had names like Sachin, Dravid and Laxman who are considered some of the best test players of test cricket and one usually doesn’t expect the side to lose. At the end, India required them to stay out there for one day, on the fifth day to save the test, which was not very difficult.
This loss is the first test loss under the leadership of Dhoni and Fletcher. India has a fine lineup on paper but they have not been able to put up a performance upto the level required. The last day of a test match usually one can understand, batting would be difficult with the pitch breaking up and troubling the batsmen. In this case, it was Lord’s ground where the pitch never breaks up. It only gets better for batting as the days progress. Fifth day or not, the pitch remains a good batting surface. The England certainly managed to pile up a lot of runs which Indian batsmen simply could not.
England bowlers have looked lethal in both the innings. Broad and Anderson have been consistent with their line and length literally cleaning up India’s top order rather cheaply. India has been plagued with injuries and players being unfit for the match. Zaheer who came into the series after rest seemed to have pulled a muscle due to lack of match practice. It is now unsure if he will be included in the playing eleven for the second test. Sachin was reported with a serious cold infection which prevented him from being on the field in the England’s second innings. Gambhir too had an unfortunate accident when standing close to the bat when a strong blow caused his arm to swell badly. He was taken off the field and came down the order to bat instead of opening.
On day five one could see clearly that India were out to save the test, which means England bowlers had all the more chances to win the test. The Indian batsmen had gone into a defensive mode which was really not required. They could have played their natural game hitting the balls on their merit. Sachin himself was very disappointing in the whole test, to say the least. It was a time when the whole country and perhaps the world was looking for the little master to achieve his 100th ton, he never looked much better than ordinary. In the second innings,he never capitalized on the chance he got when an appeal for LBW against him was turned down, which did look quite close. He got out on a similar LBW appeal some 40 odd balls later. There was only an increment of 1 run to his personal score. That is not the kind of Sachin that we know.
This is certainly not the kind of cricket which will help India retain their top test spot. England already have made It clear that they will be looking to de-thrown the Indian side from the top spot. It is the Indian side which has to respond now. As if playing England in their backyard was not enough, being 1-0 behind in the test now means a very difficult uphill battle Dhoni and his men. It will be interesting to see how India responds and the changes made to the team and tactics for the second test which starts in a couple of days’ time.