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In this 16 part series, Arunabha Sengupta captures one special moment from each of the 16 previous Indian tours to England. In the final episode he looks back at Kevin Pietersen’s double century at Lord’s in 2011.
In a very high profile series often the side that seizes the early initiative turns out triumphant.
The India versus England showdown in 2011 was billed as a tussle for the Test crown — the big battle between the number one and number two of the cricket world. Besides, the opening game at Lord’s was the 2000th Test, the 100th between the two sides.
For a session and a half the series lived up to its billing. After a wet ground delayed the start, MS Dhoni put England into bat in overcast conditions. Zaheer Khan made the ball talk, asking probing questions of the batsmen. England poked, prodded and survived to 43 for one at lunch, from 21 troublesome overs. Zaheer’s figures after the opening spell read 7-3-9-1.
After lunch, the Indian paceman started with four superb overs, and the English batsmen struggled to get bat to ball. When Andrew Strauss did so, it was a top-edged pull that went down the throat of fine leg. Kevin Pietersen walked in, not really in the best of form.
And then came the series deciding moment. Zaheer felt his hamstring, detected a tear and limped off the ground. The one bowler in the long history of Indian cricket who had mastered the art of bowling in England would not feature in the series again. The outcome was decided during that unfinished over.
The other Indian bowlers were game, but lacked the vital edge. The attack was blunted. Jonathan Trott and Pietersen took England to 127 for two when stumps were drawn. The latter was on a patchy 22 from 73 balls.
On the second day the sun shone brightly as clouds accumulated around the Indian brows. Praveen Kumar moved the ball around, troubling batsmen, dismissing Trott, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan — the last named for a duck. The match hung in balance till then, England on 270 for five. Pietersen had survived a close call as Rahul Dravid’s catch at leg slip was disallowed due to lack of conclusive television evidence.
From then on, the South African born batsman slowly unleashed his flamboyant self. With Matt Prior for company, he proceeded to his hundred — long overdue. And after passing 130 he launched into the Indian bowling with characteristic abandon. Praveen was driven for two scorching boundaries in an over while Ishant Sharma was drilled for three — the second a leg glance from the off-stump. The last 52 runs hurtled along in 25 balls. Pietersen finished unbeaten on 202, studded with 21 boundaries and a six off Suresh Raina straight over the bowler’s head.
The England innings was closed at 474 for nine. The initiative had been seized. India never recovered.
A hundred of character and courage by the inimitable Dravid helped India squeeze past the follow on mark. However, the 188 run lead was sizable and was raised to 457 through some sensible hitting by Prior and Stuart Broad. The duo had come together with England in a spot of bother at 107 for six, and they were still undefeated when the innings was closed at 269.
Raina provided some determined resistance in the second innings, but in the end the second new ball struck home and England won with 30 overs to spare.
England 474 for 8 decl. (Jonathan Trott 70, Kevin Pietersen 202*, Ian Bell 45, Matt Prior 71; Praveen Kumar 5 for 106) and 269 for 6 decl. (Matt Prior 103*, Stuart Broad 74*; Ishant Sharma 4 for 59) beat India 286 (Abhinav Mukund 49, Rahul Dravid 103; Stuart Broad 4 for 37) and 261 (VVS Laxman 56, Suresh Raina 78; James Anderson 5 for 65) by 196 runs.
(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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