India are heading towards a superb victory in the second Investec Test at Lord’s having reducing hosts England to 105 for 4 in the latter’s second innings on the penultimate day. This was after the visitors had set a tricky target of 319 on a pitch that is taking turn and keeping up and down while aiding lateral movement.
In picture above: Ian Bell bowled by Ishant Sharma on Day 4 of 2nd Investec Test at Lord’s
It was an incredible fourth day’s play at Lord’s as for the first time a team seemed to have taken control of the Test match. The morning session was going to be extremely crucial for both the teams and it was India which got the better of it. England had to strike quickly in the morning and their opening when MS Dhoni was edged out in the slips by a short of length delivery from Liam Plunkett.
England ended the 5th wicket stand between Murali Vijay and MS Dhoni which rescued India to 202 for 5 from 123 for 4. Dhoni contributed 19 while batting out 86 balls. The tourists lost a cheap wicket after this as Stuart Binny threw it away by jumping out on 0 to Moeen Ali for a big hit but only to be caught brilliantly by Alastair Cook who ran backwards from mid off.
Murali Vijay eventually fell when he poked at an away swinger from James Anderson off the second new ball to be caught behind. Vijay worked hard facing 247 balls to score 95 with 11 fours. India was in big trouble at 235 for 7 with the lead at 211. By lunch, Ravindra Jadeja produced an important cameo to boost the lead to 243.
In picture above: Ravindra Jadeja and James Anderson almost collide with each other during Day 4 of 2nd Test at Lord’s
After the lunch break, England simply lost the plot and ended up conceding half centuries to Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. For Jadeja, it was a maiden Test fifty in 10 matches and 14 innings. It came quickly in just 42 balls! England crawled back with the wicket of Jadeja with the left hander charging down the track and top edging his pull shot off Ben Stokes while Alastair Cook held on to another high swirling catch under pressure.
Ravindra Jadeja blasted a career best of 68 from 57 balls with 9 fours. His partnership with Bhuvneshwar Kumar was 99 runs for the 8th wicket which took the Indian lead past 300! The homeside conceded only 8 more runs to take the remaining two wickets. Mohammed Shami was caught behind edging a straighter one from Moeen Ali while Bhuvneshwar Kumar was last man out, caught by Ian Bell in the slips off Ben Stokes.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar scored 52 from 71 balls with 8 fours. India were bowled out for a healthy total of 342 in 103.1 overs with Ben Stokes and Liam Plunkett taking three wickets each.
By Tea, India got its first wicket when Ravindra Jadeja with his very first ball trapped Sam Robson lbw with an arm ball. After the break, England looked good with Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance at the crease. However, a bowling change of bringing back Mohammed Shami in the 29th over broke the 58-run 2nd wicket stand with Gary Ballance caught behind for 27 following a reversing outswinger in a frontfoot defence.
The big moment of the day’s play or perhaps even in the Test match came when Ian Bell was bowled cheaply by Ishant Sharma with the length ball staying low and straightening just enough after angling in. An under pressure Alastair Cook who has been leaving balls outside off perished as well to have England at 72 for 4. It was Ishant Sharma who got Cook out with an outswinger that had the left hander nicking behind a frontfoot defence.
By the close of play, Joe Root with 14* (from 39 balls) and Moeen Ali with 15* (from 54 balls) ensured that India did not make any further inroads. The pitch has become quite dry and even part-time off-spinners Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan troubled the English batsmen. For Ravindra Jadeja, there is a big rough outside off for the left-handed batsmen. Interestingly, MS Dhoni decided to stand back to Jadeja when a left-handed batsman was at strike so that the bowler could fire quicker straighter ones outside off.