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If the first day was all about being watchful, disciplined and showing intent only when it mattered, Day II of the second cricket Test at Lord’s saw all that absolutely forgotten by the India batsmen.
Though the bowlers did a decent job thereafter, India would certainly have been happier with a wicket or two more, especially after reducing England to 23/2 early in the day’s final session.
Courtesy captain Joe Root (48 batting) and opener Rory Burns’s 85-run third-wicket partnership, England could make a bit of recovery to reach 119/3 at stumps on Friday in reply to India’s 364. India would like to get rid of Root — who could again be their stumbling block — early when action resumes on Saturday, while England would seriously hope senior pros Jonny Bairstow (batting on 6) and Jos Buttler (yet to bat) come up with the necessary support that their skipper has been lacking.
It was a struggle for India even after Mohammed Siraj removed Dom Sibley and comeback-man Haseeb Hameed off successive balls in the first over after tea. Burns and Root were sensible enough in their approach, trying to avoid false shots as much as possible and latching on to anything that was off line.
However, late in the day, with lights on, captain Virat Kohli went back to Mohammed Shami who brought one back in to trap Burns lbw, giving India a much-needed breakthrough.
Probably Kohli missed a trick by not giving Siraj or even Shami an over or two before tea as both are in-form bowlers along with Jasprit Bumrah.
It would be fair to say that Shami, who was again spot-on in terms of line and length along with Bumrah, was underbowled while Ishant Sharma, returning in place of the injured Shardul Thakur, didn’t look penetrative enough. Yet he was allowed to bowl more overs than both Bumrah and Shami.
Credit though has to be given to young Siraj as even after his over-excitement cost India a couple of reviews, the Hyderabad pacer bowled his heart out, posing questions to English batsmen, including Root.
Earlier, KL Rahul departed off just the second ball of the day and, thereafter, India could add only 88 to their overnight total of 276/3. India, in fact, had a perfect opportunity to shut England out of the game, considering how they ended on Day I. But after Rahul’s early dismissal on Friday, brief resistances by Rishabh Pant (37) and Ravindra Jadeja (40) were the only aspect worth mentioning in terms of their batting.
Having said that, one has to doff hat to James Anderson (5/62) as it seems there’s no stopping the master pacer even at 39.