By Yajurvindra Singh
India’s victory over England at Lord’s cricket mecca was unique. It took a 50 years back to 1971 when India under the captaincy of Ajit Wadekar was close to beating England at the historic site. India finally managed a historic victory in the last test match at the Oval. It not only won the series but was also their first test win in England.
The Indian cricket fans and supporters in 1971 on a happy Ganpati day were glued to their transistor nervously and listened to every race in the pursuit of victory. A square cut to the fence by Abid Ali led to the blasting of biscuits and party outbursts, which had been suppressed for almost 40 years.
India played their first Test match at Lord’s in 1932 and the venue has since always had a close connection to Indian cricket. It was 50 years later in 1983 that Kapil Dev and his group of merry men won the India World Cup and the balcony of the Lord became the backdrop for India’s biggest victory.
The Lord’s Test match in 2021 was a se-saw match that had all the ingredients of what makes Test cricket exciting for the true connoisseur of sports. The uncertainty of it was palpable on all five days of the match and kept one absorbed thoroughly.
The root of India’s problem was England’s Joe Root, a one-man army fighting to keep his side ahead. A captain who led beautifully in front while hitting, but made many mistakes as a captain on the field.
England won the toss, and Root chose to line up in hopes of making money on the murky conditions that prevailed at the time. His bowlers rather than attacking India’s talented openers, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, bowled many of their deliveries outside the off-stump.
This allowed the visitors batsmen to get a good insight into the pace and rejection of the course. The true reason Root chose to join the field, however, was to protect his batsmen from the deadly Indian tempo attack. India, formerly known for producing spin magicians, now has a closet full of pacers that can competently replace each other on any given day.
India’s two match-winning spin bowlers, Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin, who spun a net during India’s league winner over England at home, sit on the bench waiting to be revealed. This is what they will do in this series of five matches when the hot summer weather in England finally sets in.
One gets the feeling that England’s think tank seemed so engrossed in strategies to get Virat Kohli’s wicket that they neglected the rest of the page. Roots field placement and bowling changes have been questionable.
He let the Indian batsmen get easy runs through nudges to third man and the fine leg area. One such bizarre mistake was when Sam Curran, their only left arm medium-sized pacer, sought to extract the swing. Instead of attacking with a leg-slip and a short-legged fielder, Root decided to get the batsmen out in slips.
Rohit Sharma got two easy boundaries through snicks on the leg side. These are the subtle decisions on the court that a wise captain makes that can change the course of the game. Innovative tactics are what Joe Root lacks as captain, as not everything can go according to a set plan completed in the locker room.
The match on the last day of the test day in the Lords seemed to be in favor of England. After dismissing Rishabh Pant early, England were ready to tear down the Indian tail, especially with the new ball in hand.
Cricket is a fun game. One can never underestimate the situation. England failed their hair and decided to make mickey out of Jasprit Bumrah by bowling bouncers to him. One was amazed and confused to see that the English bowlers had three slips and a gap to the top Indian batsmen, whereas they just had a catcher to Mohammed Shami and Bumrah.
The field on all corners of the earth was one that even people like Gayle and Ben Stokes would have had a hard time coping with the attack in England. The ridiculous part of it was that there was no fielder in the third-person area, the most productive place for a tail-end. Joe Root learned a very bitter lesson when India was in the driver’s seat. He accepted his foolishness in a statement later.
The batting success was all that was needed for Shami and Bumrah to get to their burning best. They bowled beautifully and with the ever-improving Mohammed Siraj as support, the English batsmen looked like rabbits trapped in the glare of the headlights.
Test cricket is a serious business. Virat Kohli is the leading promoter of this format. He is one of the most exciting and expressive captains one has ever encountered in cricket. He shows his feelings by the fall of a hat, which is part of his personality. I feel that is exactly what Indian players require to own them.
His style and aggressive behavior have been criticized by some. However, that is what makes him energetic and charged and it boosts well for Indian cricket.
The Test series India vs. England has now been ignited for battle royale. India had gotten better from Australia in a similar fight earlier this year. It is hoped that they can stand up to the attack that is expected of England.
India’s only problem is “ROOT of all troubles”! They must keep the English captain in check.
ys / kh