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Thundershowers followed by light rain hit London in the early hours in the morning. Arunabha Sengupta writes that this may ensure an intense tussle between bat and ball.
In August 1926, sleeping in his Clapham home, Jack Hobbs had been awoken by a thunderclap at two in the morning and had feared the worst for the fortunes of England when play resumed at 11. At the team hotel, Herbert Sutcliffe had also sat up in bed, disturbed by peals of thunder, and his thoughts had turned to the perils that awaited them at The Oval the following day. Well, they were Hobbs and Sutcliffe, and by lunch England had been 161 for no wicket.
The elements are unlikely to such play havoc with the peace of mind of cricketers of the modern day with their covered pitches, but the fact remains that yours truly was stirred awake to thundershowers and the soft patter of rain at Islington in the early hours of the morning. At the time of writing, the London streets are wet and the passers-by walk along carrying unfurled brollies. Light rain continues, there is a chance of another thundershower at eight following which the weather should return to clement, with clouds hovering about before gradually giving way to shining sun.
This is not particularly terrifying for the batsmen, with the massive hovercraft pitch cover spreading itself over the wicket in the middle. But, it perhaps ensures that the green tinge will continue to breathe life into the action for a while. The wicket is not yet ready to give up its soul for the underlying traditional Lord’s batting beauty to take over. Indian bowlers should have some juice handy when they run in. Medium pacers all, with the penchant to swing the ball, they should pose enough problems for the English batsmen to keep the game balanced and interesting at halfway stage.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar in particular, in the midst of a dream series, should get the ball to talk eloquently. Alastair Cook would be advised to be prepared for the searching questions he is invariably going to face. Mohammed Shami too should relish bowling in such conditions, Ishant Sharma will be encouraged by the bounce on offer backed by his one superb spell on the third afternoon at Trent Bridge, while Stuart Binny may not expect such a favourable wicket to bowl on anytime soon.
It requires technique, gumption, patience and not a little class to score runs here if the bowling is accurate and probing. Ajinkya Rahane demonstrated plenty of resources in each of those departments as he stroked his way to one of the most delightful hundreds on Day One. After faltering embarrassingly in the middle session, the Indians have fought their way back into the match and the total looks extremely respectable given the conditions and circumstances. The England batsmen do not lack the qualities mentioned, but have to apply themselves really well to get runs on this pitch.
The first session, according to the forecasts till now, will be accompanied by clouds. If the drizzle stops and play gets underway on time, it will make for a very interesting couple of hours.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry.He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)
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