James Anderson celebrates the dismissal of India batting star Virat Kohli © Getty Images
The ‘Pushgate’ controversy involving England pace spearhead James Anderson and Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja might have been going on in the background leading up to the second Test at Lord’s, but on the field Anderson was focused and efficient as ever. Shiamak Unwalla has more.
James Anderson has had a rather torrid time over the last couple of months. He bowled well against Sri Lanka but was unable to skittle them out even once. He was the man dismissed after taking England to the cusp of a hard-fought draw in the second Test of that series, only to be dismissed with mere moments left in the game. He broke down at the presentation ceremony of that game as well. He redeemed himself when he has scored a possibly match-saving 81 against India batting at No 11 in the first Test at Trent Bridge.
However, at some point during the match, he and India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja got into a virtually unnoticed scuffle. What followed was quite surprising, and a bit childish. The India team manager charged Anderson with a breach of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Code of Conduct, only for a similar charge to be filed by the English manager against Jadeja!
With such astonishing levels of turmoil going on in the backdrop, it is a wonder that Anderson could find the inner tranquillity to turn up and bowl. As it happened, he didn’t just turn up and put the ball in the good areas, he bowled a superb spell to leave the Indian batsmen reeling.
Very early on in the match, he made it apparent that whatever might be going on off the field is not going to hamper his performances on it. The ball with which he got Shikhar Dhawan — taking the edge after it swung away from leg stump — was nigh unplayable. Virat Kohli was dismissed to an even better ball. Stuart Binny’s leg-before dismissal was perhaps more of the umpire’s fault than anything else — the ball was high enough to go at least two inches above the top of the stumps — but even there it came on the back of another good spell.
But perhaps his most important wicket was that of centurion Ajinkya Rahane. Again, it was Anderson’s own brilliant reflexes that allowed him to hang on to a catch low to his left off his own bowling. At the end of Day One, England might be feeling that they have lost an opportunity to put India in trouble, , but the man they were indebted to was Jimmy Anderson. If he takes the last Indian wicket, he will have taken yet another fifer. More importantly though, it would send a clear message to the Indian camp: no matter what allegations and charges are levied, they will only serve to rile him up sufficiently for what will then be a fiery retribution.
Anderson has shown tremendous professionalism and maturity to let the ball do the talking. And the ball has talked. If at all it really was India’s strategy was to target the opponent’s best bowler, they could well be ruing the ploy at the moment. Whatever the case, Anderson is bowling like a professional hit man. And Ravindra Jadeja could be in his crosshairs.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)