Indias Ishant Sharma (3rd L) celebrates bowling Englands Ian Bell (R) for 1 run during play on the fourth day of the second cricket Test match between England and India at Lord’s cricket ground in London on July 20, 2014
Irrespective of the result tonight, the current Lord’s Test wicket must be given a ‘standard template’ status. England and India have produced a level of cricket that cannot be termed error-free; however, it’s the nature of the pitch that has given spectators and viewers value for money through every session, every bowling change, every spell, every collapse, every rebuilding, and every decision.
At 1:30 am Singapore time, yesterday, when Indian skipper MS Dhoni missed a tough chance to send Moeen Ali back, he also denied the eighth wicket to a spinner, this Test match. Out of 34 that have fallen so far, 7 have gone to spinners, 12 to genuine pace and the balance 15 to swing bowlers.
The ideal Test match wicket
Towards the end of fourth day’s play, Ravindra Jadeja looked like taking a wicket off every ball, and there were close shouts off part-time spin of Indian openers, Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan. Batting wasn’t easy, and there is every chance that spinners will add to the wickets tally later today.
Batting on this track has been varied. The run-rate after three innings stands at a very entertaining 3.2 runs per over. On an average, 8.5 wickets have fallen per day, so far. That’s approximately 95 runs and 3 wickets per session, which is absolute balance for both batting and fielding teams.
No type of bowler or batsman can complain. Jadeja’s swashbuckling counter-attack could be the turning point of this game; he played those lovely shots at over a run a ball when his team was precariously placed at 235/7. Bhuvneshwar Kumar scored 88 runs in this Test match, first at 42% strike rate and then the second essay at 73% strike rate. Vijay scored total of 119 runs at 33% strike rate. It’s been that sort of game, something in it for everyone. There have been collapses and three partnerships of 90 plus runs each.
India will likely win this Test and take an unexpected lead to some relief. To an extent, they will restore pride after losing to England 6-1 in the last two bilateral series between the nations, as well, not to forget the hammering at Australia, South Africa and, even, New Zealand.
If that doesn’t happen, England will have turned their fortunes after the unexpected loss that they received at the hands of Sri Lanka in all three formats of the game this summer.
Positives for Team India
Either way, there are plenty of positives for both teams to take, especially for India, who have haunted memories to erase.
– Jadeja is fast turning out to be India’s Mr. Reliable in all formats of the game.
– B Kumar can be identified as the seaming all-rounder that India has been seeking to groom ever since Irfan Pathan’s swing faded away.
– Vijay is back to the days of yore when he played dogged, solid, brick-by-brick building innings before IPL took his technique, patience and temperament away.
– Ishant Sharma can still produce match-turning spells.
– Virat Kohli is adjusting with the law of averages and just a knock away from tormenting bowlers again for another year.
– Entire Indian bowling line-up can stay fit for a Test (unlike in 2011, the last time the team visited the same country).
– And Stuart Binny doesn’t enjoy Dhoni’s confidence, so India should look at playing eleven players in next Test, and not ten.
Indian fans, English fans and neutrals are all set to have tonnes of memories from this Test and wicket. Thanks a ton to Mick Hunt (Ground chief) and Ashwin Tumu (Assistant pitch curator) for contributing to upholding the excitement of Test cricket. The captains of both sides, match referee, the England Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) in India must work to make this pitch a standard template for all nations, associations and cricket centres to follow: at domestic levels, junior levels and international levels.
But, before that, it’s all to play for today!