India vs England 2nd Test at Lord’s: Home side fails to take firm grip
Gary Ballance’s (left) fighting hundred gave England early advantage before Bhuvneshwar Kumar and co fought back for India © Getty Images
After the lush green wicket came a dull day of cricket where Indian bowlers put up a disciplined performance to keep pegging back England on a relatively easy batting surface. Abhijit Banare summarises the second day and what lies ahead in the Test.
When you are prepared for the worst, a little less misery still seems acceptable. If this Lord’s Test wicket were to start today, the commentators and players would have still called the green tinge conducive for bowlers. But, having seen the lush green deck last on Thursday, the green tinge seemed far better. While the ball did its tricks on the first morning, the second day was contrasting with little lateral movement on offer.
England fail to capitalise:
Had Moeen Ali and Gary Ballance remained unbeaten at stumps, England would have had their noses ahead in this encounter. Moeen gifted his wicket away being casual against Murali Vijay while Ballance was unlucky to get an edge off a delivery that was going down the leg-side. That was good enough for India to claw back in the day. If we keep the over-analysed first day pitch away, India did exceptionally well. With not much assistance from the surface, the pacer didn’t concede many easy runs. Ishant Sharma was consistent delivering a touch short of good length deliveries.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s bowling: Once again, it’s easy to attribute Bhuvneshwar Kumar‘s success to the green pitch. But it does take some nagging accuracy to convert the opportunity into wickets. The pacer put a lot of effort planning each dismissal and persisting with it. Bhuvneshwar has shown a lot of patience which is an essential element in an opening bowler. One of the basics he did perfectly is to make the batsmen play. In other words he pitched it up fuller than others and reaped the rewards.
Gary Ballance: The Yorkshireman was said to “depart easily” as he was more of a backfoot player and doing so at Lord’s could turn out be dangerous. But it was all in the mind as Ballance struck a breezy ton. There were no extravagant shots but ones which were timed neatly. MS Dhoni will have to blame himself for allowing that slip catch to pass by him without attempting. With this ton, the Performance of England’s long term prospects are slowly falling in place. The ton has in fact helped England salvage some pride going in to the third day.
On what was called a pacer’s heaven, England conceded two of their six wickets to spinners with one of them opening his account in his career. This indeed shows that England can still make this match interesting.
Is the match heading for a draw?
Certainly not. Irrespective of the pitch, both teams have showed enough susceptibility for a collapse. Even a dead Trent bridge deck had an exciting last day on offer. It was predicted that Day Two and three would be the best time to bat, so India would certainly not let go off the chance of digging in deep and posting a big target.
Demons in the pitch? The grass might still be visible on the third morning but both teams are well aware that colour of the wicket can be misleading. It’s the application of the batsman which will see them through rather than misleading green tops here. Overall, this was a day where England could have easily put more pressure on the Indian bowlers. Having conceded some easy wickets towards the end, England might just end up conceding a lead here.
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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)