|Ravindra Jadeja and James Anderson during the fourth dayís play, at Lordís, on Sunday. Umpire Bruce Oxenford is in the background. (Getty Images)
London: India look good to win their first Test at Lord’s in 28 years. As Sir Ian Botham put it, “it’s for India now to lose the match.”
Requiring 319 to take the lead in the five-Test series, England were clearly in need of oxygen. At stumps on the penultimate day, they were a wobbly 105 for four.
Gone, too, was captain Alastair Cook whose day begins by having to read something scathing about him. On Sunday, it was Michael Vaughan who tore into him.
Whoever said that predecessors tend to be a little kind...
A year ago, Cook was the captain who could do no wrong. Yet, for months, he’s seen as one who can’t get anything right.
It’s a huge fall.
Opposite number Mahendra Singh Dhoni is, on the other hand, operating on a different level.
Distant are memories of the thrashings in England and in Australia, three and two-and-a-half years ago, respectively.
Dhoni didn’t say anything, but Murali Vijay conveyed the mood in the India dressing room.
“We’re pumped up to do something special... Hopefully, the wicket stays the way it was today and the weather holds...”
A centurion in the first Test, Vijay missed a hundred by just five runs, but didn’t dwell on his disappointment.
Rather, Vijay presented himself as a team man: “I’ll take it any day if we pull off a win!”
India have to garland the gutsy Ravindra Jadeja (68) and the ever-improving Bhuvneshwar Kumar (52) for their 99-run partnership for the eighth wicket.
The runs came off 100 deliveries, which leaves nothing unsaid. Jadeja was dropped once, rather late, and Bhuvneshwar twice, though.
Jadeja counter-attacked, perhaps wanting to make a point after the off-field fracas at Trent Bridge.
Sent in at No.8, after Stuart Binny, instead of at No.7, Jadeja was positive from the start. The result showed.
Cook has reason to be disappointed with his bowlers, particularly Stuart Broad.
Then, Cook must take his share of the blame for not being innovative with field placements.
England, frankly, had no answer to Jadeja.
In an otherwise tight Test, when push came to shove, England couldn’t hold off Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar.
“It’s interestingly poised... So far, it has been a good Test match,” was former England captain Mike Brearley’s comment to The Telegraph, before the start of the ‘chase’.
That first bit changed in a shade over three overs when England lost three wickets after a rebuilding effort, from Cook and Gary Ballance.
It’s hoped, of course, that Dhoni won’t have to rue having dropped Moeen Ali close to the delayed stumps.