The first day of the second Test was washed out, and rain ate into five hours of the game on Day 2. Still, with five- and four-man slip cordon, it was rivetting cricket at Lord’s on Friday, showing why visiting teams see England as the ultimate challenge.
There was barely seven overs of play in the morning, and players returned briefly before heavy rain forced another long stoppage. The pitch didn’t have much pace, but grass on a dry surface added potency to England’s pace attack as steady rain on Thursday and spells on Friday freshened it up.
Faced with a massive batting challenge, India caved in for 107 in just 37.2 overs. James Anderson, the master swing bowler, started and finished the rout, taking his sixth five-wicket innings haul at Lord’s. He is one short of 100 wickets at the venue they call the home of cricket.
Although conditions were tough, for India, it showed how bad they can look if skipper Virat Kohli is not firing. And to compound their woes, Kohli’s indecision led to the run out of Cheteshwar Pujara, who had been dubbed a wannabe Usain Bolt by coach Ravi Shastri for his run outs in the Centurion Test in January.
Recalled into the side and restored to No 3 in a reshuffled top-order, Pujara was dogged as he was seeing off the new ball – one run off 25 balls – to underline experience from his Yorkshire stint when his partner sold him a dummy, first responding to the tight run and then rushing back to his crease.
In Edgbaston, only Virat Kohli stood up to England’s pace threat in the narrow loss. At Lord’s, Kohli saw off James Anderson’s initial threat again, only for Chris Woakes to comeback and claim the prize scalp.
Woakes, back after recovering from a quadricep muscle injury, swung the ball into the batsman and got it to seam away. Kohli, so vigilant against Anderson, seemed unsure against Woakes, who got him on 23.
He survived an edge that eluded Jos Buttler at second slip and ran down the Lord’s slope to third man for four. Next ball swung into middle stump line and seamed away, the edge flying to Buttler straight this time.
There was some assurance when Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were together. The pair called well after the Pujara run out, only for the collapse. Only R Ashwin’s 29 at No 8 helped India cross the 100-mark.
Anderson spliced open the batting, bowling Murali Vijay with the fifth ball. Vijay was out to in-coming deliveries in Edgbaston. Anderson got it to seam away from middle-stump and hit off-stump.
KL Rahul, restored to the opener’s slot, edged to keeper before the Pujara dismissal. But once Kohli fell, neither Hardik Pandya (11) nor Dinesh Karthik had the technique to survive.
The visitors made two changes. Opener Shikhar Dhawan, who struggled in Edgbaston, was dropped while chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav was roped in as second spinner, in place of Umesh Yadav, the fastest bowler who would have relished bowling his skiddy pace on this pitch. He took three wickets in the first Test.
For England, Pope came in place of the axed Dawid Malan and all-rounder Ben Stokes – facing a criminal trial in Bristol – was replaced by seam-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes.
India, down 0-1 in the five-match series, will be frustrated by the weather and rapid change in conditions, but it is something they will have to be prepared going forward.