| Zaheer Khan is congratulated by Dinesh Karthik after taking Alastair Cook’s wicket at Lord’s on Saturday
London: India’s jugular is in England’s hands and only something out of the ordinary will ensure that Rahul Dravid and Co. don’t take to the second npower Test, in Trent Bridge, 0-1 down.
The weather could, of course, come to India’s rescue at Lord’s. However, relying on external elements for succour is risk-laden.
At stumps on Day III, on a wicket with much for the new-ball bowlers and batsmen (those with character, that is), England had reached 77 for two, extending their lead to a massive 174.
Despite an exceptionally late finish, no more than 221 minutes and 47.2 overs were possible on another rain-marred day, but England did well to play out the last 35 minutes.
That’s when captain Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen had everything to lose (resuming on 54 for two), but Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth were denied. It’s one period which could influence the outcome in a big way.
Earlier, the Indian batsmen just couldn’t cope with the swinging ball. It’s an old failing, but has come to assume embarrassing proportions.
Such displays encourage the Ricky Pontings to talk about the Indians being “poor travellers.”
Much was expected from specialists Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman, but neither scripted anything of significance. The former captain did total 34, but only nine got added to his overnight score.
Sourav wasn’t tempted by the ones from James Anderson which left him, but was found wanting when one came in. As for Laxman, he fell to the very impressive Ryan Sidebottom.
Anderson returned career-best figures (five for 42) and showed, yet again, that he’s there to be counted. When fit, though, for he has already had a stress fracture of the back.
“The conditions were helpful for the bowlers... They were challenging... The Indians couldn’t handle the movement,” former England captain Graham Gooch told The Telegraph.
Gooch, who smashed India for a triple hundred in the 1990 Test at Lord’s, added: “Actually, our inexperienced pace attack did better than what the experienced guys had done in recent times...”
Of the specialists, Anderson is playing his 17th Test, while it’s Sidebottom’s fifth. Chris Tremlett is a debutant.
Clearly enjoying the responsibility of being the lead bowler, Anderson said Sourav’s had been the “key wicket” and that there were plans for “all the Indian batters.”
Anderson, who turns 25 later this month, also made the point that regularly interacting with iconic bowling consultant Allan Donald was beneficial.
Like a good team man, he praised Sidebottom and the debutant.