Time for Lord's prayer after yet another batting disaster

 Led by Anderson, England seamers swallow India in just 35.2 overs

By LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI in London
  • Published 11.08.18
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Chris Woakes (left) is congratulated by Jonny Bairstow and other teammates after the former dismissed Virat Kohli at Lord’s on Friday. (Getty Images)

London: India No.1, England No.5... That's according to the International Cricket Council's Test rankings. But what about the on-the-ground reality? The rankings would be reversed.

It will have to be so after India's batting in the first three innings of the five-Test series.

If the Dukes swung and seamed at Edgbaston, it swung more prodigiously at Lord's on a start-stop-start Friday. So devastating were James Anderson & Co. that England required as few as 35.2 overs to bowl India out for 107.

Anderson, the modern-day King of Swing, collected another five-wicket haul (five for 20) - sixth at the revered Lord's alone. Overall, the 36-year-old has 26 five-wicket returns.

Age, obviously, is just a number for Anderson. By the way, he didn't get Virat Kohli, but bowled a memorable over to the India captain.

"Clearly, it's a technical issue and if the batsmen can't sort it out, well, somebody else would have to play...

"The ball used to swing and seam in our time too. In 2002, if you recall, I decided to bat in overcast conditions at Headingley and we reached 628 for eight before the declaration...

"We won by an innings," Sourav Ganguly, a former captain of India and a centurion on debut at Lord's, told The Telegraph.

Joe Root won the toss and, given the conditions (after plenty of sun from dawn), inviting India to bat must have been an easy call.

Virat said even he'd wanted to bowl, but the India XI showed a 2-2 attack with Hardik Pandya the fifth bowler.

One hopes Kuldeep Yadav makes a huge impression, but conventional wisdom says you play an extra seamer if the thought is to bowl in conditions favourable for the new-ball attack.

It didn't come as a shock that Shikhar Dhawan got dropped and KL Rahul opened with Murali Vijay.

The change in the opening combination changed nothing: Both openers were in the dressing room very quickly - 10/2.

Comeback-man Cheteshwar Pujara dropped anchor, but got run out after Virat responded to a single and, then, backtracked. Disastrous.

James Anderson celebrates after dismissing Ishant Sharma 

Perhaps, that single wasn't on, but Virat shouldn't have responded then.

The all-too-familiar procession had begun.

Anderson, Chris Woakes (who kept finding the edge) and Stuart Broad assumed demon-like proportions and swallowed the visitors. They were backed up by five in the slips.

Virat and Pandya, who appeared in a hurry to return to the much warmer dressing room, failed to capitalise even on let-offs, by Jos Buttler. Both off Woakes.

But, unlike at Edgbaston, no damage could be caused by Virat as he was taken by Buttler on the very next ball.

Pandya went the same way.

Lucky for Buttler that he immediately made amends as Woakes was all set to dump him in the Thames.

Top scorer for India? Ravichandran Ashwin (29). Next best? Virat, 23. There's too much dependence on the captain and that reflects poorly on the best of the batsmen.

That Ashwin scored the most tells a sorry tale.

Pathetic, no matter how tough the conditions. The best (almost always, at least) get to represent the country but what we saw on a truncated second day, effectively the first, of Test No.2, was among the best of the worst.

Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who had to face the Media, kept making the point about "backing ourselves," "it's a five-Test series," "conditions were challenging." To be fair to him, he added: "No excuses."

That gave no comfort, not even Rahane's observation that "cricket is a funny game".

Rahane had scored a hundred in the first innings of the 2014 Test at Lord's, which India won.

Of course, should conditions be similar on Saturday, England too may be challenged.