England backed up by a 11th five-wicket haul from James Anderson broke the stiff resistance from India to win the First Test at Lord’s by 196 runs. India fought hard with VVS Laxman and Suresh Raina scoring gritty knocks but the English bowlers managed to make the best use of the conditions to take wickets when it mattered.
Tale of the Morning Session :
India expected the overnight pair of Dravid and Laxman to put up a long partnership as they most often do when their team is under a crisis. The experienced duo saw through the first half hour but the partnership didn’t extend any further as Rahul Dravid (36 from 93 balls with 5 fours) in the 35th over lost his concentration to fish at an away going delivery on the backfoot well outside off to give catching practice to the keeper. It was a delivery that should have been left alone but instead it was a wicket for James Anderson which broke a promising partnership of 75 runs.
Gautam Gambhir who took a nasty blow on his elbow on the fourth day came out to bat at no.4. The left hander was determined to bat through with some serious pain and with Laxman put up a solid stand. Things looked good until the 49th over when a bowling change of bringing back James Anderson worked instantly as a well set VVS Laxman (56 from 113 balls with 8 fours) went for a pull shot to a rising delivery carelessly in the air and just didn’t get the desired elevation to get caught overhead by a leaping Ian Bell at mid wicket. The 3rd wicket stand lasted 14 overs and it was just long enough to let Sachin Tendulkar to bat at no.5 with just a few minutes to see through before Lunch.
Sachin Tendulkar walked in with great expectations on his shoulder but he had to see a quick wicket going down just an over after Laxman’s exit as Gautam Gambhir was adjudged lbw to Graeme Swann. It was possibly going to be the match changing event on the final day as Gautam Gambhir came forward in defence to a delivery which drifted in quicker in the air to strike the pad first while the bat came around middle along the wronf line. There was a double appeal from England and Asad Rauf raised his finger much to the disappointment of Gambhir (22 from 56 balls with 2 fours) but it certainly was the right decision from the Umpire. India limped to lunch at 142 for 4 in 53 overs with defeat looming large unless Sachin did something special.
Tale of the Afternoon Session :
England’s tail was certainly up and the bowling was just too high class especially with the ball reversing with sharp speeds. Sachin Tendulkar went into a shell and he took him as many as 38 balls to move from 11 to 12! Tendulkar’s jinx with Lord’s continued and it was perhaps destiny when he got out in what could be his last innings at the Mecca of Cricket without achieving a single Test century at this venue! The World’s Greatest Batsman at the age of 38 seemed to have missed out on a last opportunity in having his name on the Honours Board at Lord’s as Anderson got the better of him to dismiss him cheaply.
Tendulkar was actually put down by Strauss in the 67th over when he offered no shot to Anderson on the frontfoot but the ball came in slightly to kiss the edge and the English Captain went onto drop a second sitter of the match. A few overs back, Tendulkar should have been given out lbw to Stuart Broad but Umpire Billy Bowden ruled it down. However, Tendulkar (12 from 68 balls) just after a couple of balls he was dropped at slip, which was in the 67th over, got out to a sharp indipper from Anderson which got him plumb lbw.
Nobody would have expected the pair of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni to bat India towards a draw. But the pair surprised everybody with some positive strokeplay and with the ball getting softer, they could defy the English bowlers quite comfortably to take India to 218 for 5 in 81 overs with Suresh Raina batting beautifully with a 6th half century to his name.
Tale of the Final Session :
It was a promising fightback from Raina and MS Dhoni but England believed that they could get their wickets anytime with the second new ball in hand. Moreover India still had 42 overs to negotiate to achieve the draw. The final nail in the coffin came quickly after Tea when MS Dhoni (16 from 49 balls) went back in two minds whether to play or leave a short delivery from Tremlett in the corridor of uncertainty and by then the ball did enough off the seam to kiss the edge to land straight into Prior’s gloves.
Next man Harbhajan Singh ended this match on a disastrous note, with the ball he bagged just the one wicket for more than 200 runs and then with the bat failing in both the innings. Harbhajan Singh (12 from 24 balls) lasted only about 6 overs before he he took on a rising delivery from Anderson with a pull shot in the air which was terribly dragged in the air towards Tremlett at mid on. Praveen Kumar lasted 9 deliveries before he got clean bowled by Stuart Broad with a good length delivery which nipped through his tentative forward defence to hit timber in the 95th over.
Suresh Raina’s good knock too came to an end with the young man missing out on a Lord’s hundred as he got drawn forward into a defence but a clever Anderson angled the ball into him and swung it away late to force a regulation edge to the keeper. Suresh Raina batted out for 207 minutes to score an impressive 78 from 136 balls with 10 fours. Anderson got his 11th Test five-wicket haul with that. No.11 Ishant Sharma lasted just 4 balls before he got caught in the crease by an indipper from Broad for an lbw. India lasted 96.3 overs to score 261. England with that won the First Test at Lord’s by 196 runs to lead the 4-Test Series 1-0.
Kevin Pietersen for setting up the Test in England’s favour with a double century got the Man of the Match award.