England v India, 1st npower Test, Lord's, 4th day

An expected end after a thrilling journey

The series opener between England and India already has a storyline worthy of its 2000th Test status, and a compelling final day awaits

Sambit Bal at Lord's

July 24, 2011

Comments: 90 | Text size: A | A

Matt Prior raises his bat on getting to a century, England v India, 1st Test, Lord's, 4th day, July 24, 2011
Matt Prior is a clear winner in the battle between the wicketkeepers at Lord's © Getty Images
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Features : Ishant lights up the fourth day
Players/Officials: MS Dhoni | Matt Prior
Series/Tournaments: India tour of England
Teams: England | India

Their miracle workers remain in the middle, but India face a mighty struggle to save this Test. The hope of victory has long been snuffed out; their batting order has been disrupted by injury and illness; and they have toiled on the field for close to three days with three bowlers. While Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman have bailed India out of more hopeless situations in the past, batting on the last day at Lord's against England's bowling attack will test their skills, if not temperament, more than Kolkata and Adelaide, where they mounted their legendary 300-run partnerships.

Sachin Tendulkar, who was off the field for two sessions with a viral infection, cannot bat until half an hour before lunch or till five wickets are down. Gautam Gambhir, the regular opener and the hero of a couple of gritty draws, has suffered a sickening blow to the elbow. But Dravid, who is yet to be dismissed in this Test, and Laxman - who it seems cannot summon his best unless a crisis beckons in the final innings - have managed to survive, with some luck and plenty of fortitude and skill, a tough final session to keep India afloat in a contest worthy of the 2000th Test.

In Test cricket, the journey is often more interesting than the outcome. At tea on the fourth day, the match stood where everyone, including both the teams, would have expected it to be - England then declared with a lead of 457 and India faced the prospect of surviving more than 120 overs to go to Trent Bridge with a clean slate - but what a route it took.

For about half an hour before lunch, India, chasing the match almost all through the Test, turned predator, and England bore the look of the hunted. Ishant Sharma breezed in, the ball zipped around, catching men waited expectantly, and the Indian fans found their voice as England lost four wickets for eight runs in 5.2 overs.

From what was meant to be a smooth and routine passage to a point from where England could declare safely with time in hand to bowl India out, there arrived the prospect of an Indian chase of around 330 runs; still mighty tough, but not beyond the realm of achievable. It was Test match cricket at its most sensationally unpredictable.

Among the many wonderful things about Test cricket is that it offers the prospect of redemption within the course of a match. Ishant Sharma, after his high in the West Indies where he was the Man of the Series, was so listless and out of sorts in the first innings that India were effectively reduced to a one-man seam attack after Zaheer Khan's withdrawal. With its pronounced slope, Lord's is a difficult ground to adjust to for a first-timer, but life generally rewards those who learn from mistakes, and the key change Ishant made in the second innings was adjusting his length.

Just as Stuart Broad had proved in the Indian innings, this track rewards those prepared to pitch it up. Even the wickets Ishant got with the shorter balls were the result of his having bowled fuller earlier. Kevin Pietersen was already pressing forward when he got a snorter, and Eoin Morgan was almost surprised by the bouncer that forced a mistimed pull.

Inevitably, though, India's three-man attack ran out of juice and India's intensity in the field dropped as Matt Prior built two vital partnerships to drive England into the ascendancy again. The match returned to script again in the final session as the Indian batsmen began their struggle against three high-quality pace bowlers of contrasting styles.

Throughout this match there have been discussions about whether Prior is the world's best wicketkeeper-batsman in Tests and, purely on the evidence of this Test, Prior has sealed the case. As the full package, MS Dhoni is among the most influential figures in world cricket, but Prior has been a match-turner for England at the vital position of No. 7, and twice in this Test he has swung the innings coming in after the loss of quick wickets.

He has a well-organised defence and the confidence to play his strokes even in tough conditions, and while square on the off side is his favourite scoring area, he is accomplished enough to tuck away to leg when the bowling is straight. England have scored 327 runs while Prior has been at the crease in this match, and while Dhoni has shown his versatility by running in to bowl, Prior has comfortably won the battle of the wicketkeepers.

Dhoni has had a poor match behind the wickets, and while it is always a challenge to keep at Lord's, he got himself into tangles with his footwork, leading to two missed chances. He managed to pouch an edge from Ian Bell in the first innings by diving to his right, but today he simply let an edge from Stuart Broad fly past with a whimper of an attempt. He did save a Test here with his batting in 2007, and he might yet have the opportunity to redeem himself on the fifth day.

This Test could end in a hurry on the final day, with the scorecard presenting the picture of a one-sided affair, but the truth is that barring the second day, when India were ragged with the ball and in the field, this match has already provided everything that you could want from high-class Test cricket: an absorbing contest between bat and the ball, swing and seam, batsmen fighting through tough periods, strokes of the highest pedigree, dramatic turnarounds, one double hundred and two hundreds, a five-for and two four-wickets hauls.

There is still the possibility of a draw, but it will hardly be a dull one. If you happen to be in and around London, queue up early at the counters tomorrow. A contest beckons and tickets are available at a bargain. And if it counts for anything, it's the last chance to watch Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar in Test whites at this ground.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by bobmartin on (July 25, 2011, 12:48 GMT)

Excuses.. excuses.. Any team arriving for an away series is surely the best team the selectors can assemble... If its not, then your selectors need sacking... Secondly, the old saying, fail to prepare, prepare to fail is never truer that in cricket. (Check Englands preparation for the last Ashes series for the proof of that). India went to the WI without some of their major players, who are are subsequently not match fit and are now suffering the consequences. If India want to retain its number 1 ranking, they'll need to sharpen up their act pretty quickly indeed.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 12:45 GMT)

I completely agree with hawkeye30. Zaheer is a good bowler. Tendulkar and Dravid are world class. Laxman has his moments. The rest, sadly, might roar in their own backyard, but in an away match are found badly floundering. Unfortunately this is not a 3 man team....the rest cannot contribute consistently. The hype is too much and their contributions negligible. England on the other hand have match winners from top to bottom with bat and ball.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 12:39 GMT)

Cometh the moment cometh the man. No better moment for 'god' to save his people. My GOD always does that.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 12:34 GMT)

It appears as though England would win. The mere fact that both Dravid and Laxman are already out is enough to think that they don't have any chance of saving the game - the records of the rest do not give the Indian fans any hope towards saving the game. As usual, they could only have won if Sehwag was around and had played one of his mysterious innings. I think that the Indian selectors also made an error when they did not play Yuvraj instead of Raina. Yuvraj has the added asset of a relatively good legspin which the English batsmen don't play very well. You could see how much he was missed when India could not effect the break through or limit the scoring. I wonder when Yuvraj would be respected by the Indians as a genuine senior player? AFTER JUST WINNING THE WORLD CUP FOR THEM SINGLE HANDEDLY with his BATTING and his LEGSPIN, the reward for him in the next match for which he was available, was to LEAVE HIM OUT OF A TEST MATCH AT LORDS, thereby embarassing the poor young man!

Posted by Kashi0127 on (July 25, 2011, 12:23 GMT)

@Amit Agrawal - Why drop Mukund? Drop Gambhir! He has done very little in this test. Against genuine pace he is rabbit. I would retain Mukund as he showed promiss. Agree with you drop Zaheer abd Harbhajan and bring in Munaf, Sreesanth and Yuvraj I would even think of drop Sachin, but nobody seems to have the guts

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (July 25, 2011, 12:16 GMT)

many english fans are saying that it doesn't matter whether some main players of india are injured or not . india should have find some replacements for them .i agree with that but to find a proper replacement for a main player is not that easy. 3 months ago when england 's world cup campain was ended by sri lanka . they saId the same thing that some main players were injured so we lost. my meaning of saying is that injury to some important players like zaheer ,gambhir have effect on the result of this test match . peoples who are predicting that indian side is very weak and would get thrashed by england by 3-0 or 4-0 are completely wrong .this indian side would be different in second test when zaheer returns & would come harder on england when sehwag returns in third test .

Posted by JawadSyed on (July 25, 2011, 12:09 GMT)

As Tendulkar attempts to go for his 100th century. we take a look at the 99 centuries of Sachin Tendulkar and why India loose when Sachin scores a century. Read my analysis @ cricblogger.wordpress.com

Posted by AbuAnas on (July 25, 2011, 11:50 GMT)

Why dont BCCI try out Irfan Pathan, he can be good all rounder, just need to guide him properly he can be good asset to Indian team. He can hit the bal very well and bowl. A better option i think will be try Irfan. Few tips from Zaheer and bowling couch can make him much better ....

Posted by hawkeye30 on (July 25, 2011, 11:06 GMT)

India is ordinary as it gets in cricket. Just that one billion people make a huge hype about how good they are..India is going down in England! Looks a white wash at the moment!

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 9:49 GMT)

As an Indian fan and a cricketer playing in England, I have been saying for the past 3 years, a nos.1. Test side should not be relying on one world class but injury prone seamer in a 4-man attack. Test matches are won by sides taking 20 wickets, and the reason India cannot win away in Australia and South Africa is that they we do not have the bowling to do that consistently. England are a much better balanced side - those on this forum who are calling their bowling attack 'mediocre' have a very poor understanding of the game - and India will need all the experience and nous of our ageing middle order to get a result from this series. It should be a fascinating watch - and a lesson in why test match cricket is the ultimate in skill, endurance and drama.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 9:24 GMT)

India should drop Zaheer Khan & Har Bhajan Singh for Second Test & include Sree Santh & R.P Singh (if he is available & willing to travel to England for the rest of series). India should also drop Abhinav Mukund & include Yuvraj Singh as a medium off-spinning option ahead of Harbhajan Singh. Rahul Dravid should open batting with Gambhir for rest of series. Batting Lineup should be: Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Raina, Yuvaraj, Dhoni, Praveen Kumar, R.P Singh, Sharma, Sreesanth. Addition of Yuvraj will further add depth to batting lineup & he is wonderful off-spinner to dismiss likes of Kevin Peterson. Sreesanth, even with his wayward bowling can be really leathal with the new bowl for first 20 overs along with Ishant Sharma. While Praveen Kumar along with R.P. Singh can add variety of swing bowling in between.

Posted by manju.kori on (July 25, 2011, 9:09 GMT)

Well said Bal, I belive Indian batsman would leave no stone un turned to force a draw here and they would do it at the end. VVS and WALL batted briliantly before, if they survive for first couple of hours today, then its going to be very difficult for poms to get any of them. Btw I like the way you described VVS "Laxman, who it seems cannot summon his best unless a crisis beckons"..:D

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 8:55 GMT)

Most probably India will lose this match by a margin of 200 runs +/- 25 runs. I have been striving hard to get entry to the comments section and finally managed it through my face book log in!!!!(redirection to comments page would never work although i have been trying for weeks some cooky issue) @meety,@phoenix,@5wombats and of course @landl47.... i was a regular here before and after the Ashes and Ind- SA series...Let us see how this series unfolds.... Coming back to this match India find themselves with their back to the "Wall' because of more than any thing lack of match practice.(injuries,insipid bowling in first innings etc are all side effects)..BCCI will NEVER EVER change their ways..and no wonder the classy Dravid who worked his way to form in WI is shining throughout.My heart says India should save the match..But frankly I think ENg is going to be 1-0 up like SA in Durban. Positives for India from this match 1.Ishant's bowling. 2.Veteran batsmen seem to be in form...

Posted by ankitchamps on (July 25, 2011, 8:51 GMT)

If england cannot win from here... then they will have their so called "best seam attack" to blame...!.. and if india can manage a draw with a bowler short n couple of injuries to their main batsman, then it will speak volumes of the fighting spirit of the indians.. Enough said... hoping for a intriguing 5th day of the test match..!!

Posted by pka1982 on (July 25, 2011, 8:36 GMT)

I hope India manages to survive today, if they do so they have a good chance of winning the series. They were unfortunate to loose Zaheer right at the beginning of the test. For those who say India is not good enough, i ask them the following question: Can England win today if Broad gets injured in the 1st over? It would be very difficult i guess. Now you have to consider that India bowled best part of the test match with 3 bowlers and performed not too badly (It could have been worse). Surely England were lot better and that's why they are in a good position to win the Match. They made most of the handicap India had, but that does not mean they will win this series.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (July 25, 2011, 7:57 GMT)

But it is not just Dhoni's attitude. Shastri's speech pattern causes one to shudder. His favorite words are "pressure" and " another 2 Indian wickets and then..". He seems to almost rejoice at the prospect of Indian misery. Why just Shastri, look at the headline on Siddharth Monga's article here on this site right now : "England need nine wickets on final day". Is there no possibility of an Indian win AT ALL? Could the headline have read "380 to win" ? or " an entire day to play out for draw". Why should an Indian writer talk of an English victory to an Indian audience when all other possibilities still exist? Where is the spirit to fight and win? To fight and compete? Sports is a mental game for sure and we still need to grow up in that department!

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 7:49 GMT)

england to win.india are in trouble ths test match to be honest all going england's way.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (July 25, 2011, 7:47 GMT)

Dhoni has been a bad captain this Test - the way he allowed Indian bowlers to slack and allowed KP and Co to score 63 off 34 balls in the first innings and the way he brought Raina and himself to gift another 70 odd runs to the Eng in the 2nd innings. This poor attitude by the captain has doomed the test for India, with little possibility of a victory now. I don't understand the bunch of funny Indian commentators on the TV broadcast who kept saying that the 3 key Indian bowlers were tired when they had but bowled 60 overs during the day. I don't understand why the captain should not take responsibility to allow the match to slip away from the 68/5 position. Had Strauss not declared Broad wd have been gifted a century too just as Prior was. I died a 1000 times in shame at this spineless attitude of not willing to fight it out and compete while representing the country!

Posted by ashinfo on (July 25, 2011, 7:40 GMT)

first of all luck is playing a vital role in this match which is definitely in favor of England. For last three and half a day India is playing with three bowlers among them one is with no impression and now Sachin and Gambhir too not fully fit. M 100% sure the outcome will be draw as Mr Reliable is in his best and VVS is doing much better what he did in first innings. This series is going to be sensational .

Posted by bhaloniaz on (July 25, 2011, 7:38 GMT)

England was the better side and a draw will be a mental advantage to them (they declared both innings). India can still win(its not that improbable if you see the 4th day score of 80/1 and they Prior and Broad batted). If India wins it will change the whole series. Even a draw will be a mental advantage to England. English batsmen need to grind a bit more (they had two almost collapses at the top). Anderson needs to believe more in him. That might not happen tomorrow morning. Swan and Tremlet might do it for England. If weather permits, both teams can win. Draw is a possibility if England gets some wickets in a burst and india slows down (in the morning or right after lunch). When settled and safe all the indian batmen will play their natural shots and they can force the win.

Posted by addiemanav on (July 25, 2011, 7:20 GMT)

I have always felt that whenever the score in the 4th inngs is achievable the indian team has batted well..but when draw is the only option,then the indian team goes into a shell and gets too over-cautious..this is where eng cud take the advantage and win this game..dravid-laxman partnership is the most crucial..they have to bat out atleast 1 session..the gr8 thing about laxman is he scores at a beautiful pace,scores boundaries at will and his positive approach will keep english fielders away.the batsmen shud be positive and bat naturally..lords has good outfield and this will help..wicket is also even..not too difficult to bat on!!victory today is very very remote!370 on last day is too difficult..only if dravid-laxman bat out most of the first 2 sessions,score at crisp rate,maybe 100 per session,and ind reaches 270-280 for loss of not more than 1 or 2 wkt only then ind might think of a chase but looking at current mindset,they will be happy with a draw,but it has to be earned!!

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 7:14 GMT)

VVS and the WALL have done it twice, and surely they can do it again!

As long as they bat, India has a hope of winning and that might make the 2000th Test Match memorable. The highest fourth innings score to win a Test Match! Rahul & VVS in their third 300 run partnership and if that doesn't work, Sachin's hundredth Test cwntury.

All this makes for an exciting Fifth Day.

Who says Test Cricket is dead - as long as Captains and players play the 'game' it will never die.

The ODIs and T20s are like a meal at a Fast Food shoppe, while Test cricket is the majestic 10-course sit down dinner. True you can't have too many of the latter but it must remain the icing on the cake of a cricketer's portfolio.

Subra from Singapore

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 7:12 GMT)

Indian batsmen barring Dravid are quintessentially stroke players, they cant grind the bowling into submission, simply because they lack the patience.. The less said about the bowlers the better. They simply seem so lost without Zaheer Khan, who I doubt will play beyond another 3 or maximum 4 years.. Harbhajan has simply lost his identity and seems like a part-timer than the leading spinner, PK lacks experience in tests, Ishant lacks consistency.. I really wonder if Fletcher is the right coach because Kistern despite having a soft exterior, was a hard task master who had his way or go-to-the-highway attitude which worked wonders.. India needs someone like Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Ravi Shastri, Ganguly or Kumble who can actually crack the whip on them... This Indian team may be no.1 in tests, but if it looses at Lords, all the experience of Dravds, Laxmans and Tendulkars will count for nothing....

Posted by popped on (July 25, 2011, 7:11 GMT)

Sure India are the #1 ranked team why are so many fans here making excuses for their players not being fit? surely even an average test team should make suitable fitness assessment of the the11 match players before naming them,and should make sure they have enough bench strength, please don't make such ridiculous excuses! just appreciate the cricket being played , winning & losing is part & parcel of the game learn to appreciate that ! just appreciate the cricket being played just to make yourselves feel better don't ridicule the opposition .seems like a lot of fans here making comments for a certain you-know -who team lacks a lot of cricketing sense

Posted by Aussie_rulez on (July 25, 2011, 7:08 GMT)

@ Anand Jamadogni....Thank you for your observations... but India is the No 1 team not based on individual performances... they are a unit, my friend... there are off days and then there are good days for players.... The fact remains, India is still the No1 test team... xD

Posted by AbuAnas on (July 25, 2011, 7:05 GMT)

@anexpat, How can say that.. just see the match statistics top order fell withouot proper contribution only KP,Trot,Prior had made contribution remaining had struggled ....if our strike bowler and sehwag would fit and played with full strength then you would have seen different scenario..... at present England are playing with full strength and India are with mainplayers injured....still they have managed to make the opponent feel they are at danger end....if not why did Strauss not had declared the match @ 320 or 350 with strong bowling and world best spinner....surely they know that India can bounce back anytime...England had moved the match to almost to a draw...getting 458 runs is not easy taskl....u better compare the team with full strength of batting and bowling are trying the draw the match.....

Posted by rockz.andy on (July 25, 2011, 7:03 GMT)

Indian Fans must be hoping a session having rain before Raina comes sad ending to Sachin/Dravid and laxman 's final test at the home of cricket!

Posted by SudharsanVM on (July 25, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

The bigger problem with the indian Team is the spin bowling option. Zak is the spearhead. PK has got a five-for and Ishant has bowled a superb spell. Being one bowler short, The two fast bowlers has delivered. But India, a land which has produced good spinnes in game, is lacking a proper spinner option. If people say that bhajji can bat a bit, but what is the real need in that if u cant be a good bowler and u r in the team as a bowler.

Posted by KAIRAVA on (July 25, 2011, 6:51 GMT)

VVS Laxman has this great gift of rescuing the team when in dire straits. And often such rescues have resulted in wins rather than mere draws. After seeing a wicket-keeper score a nearly run-a-ball century and a bowler make a quick-fire 74 on the 4th day of the test, Laxman knows that there are no devils on this pitch and just a session of application can turn this game head-on. If Laxman re-instils this thought that India can score 378 on the final day, it will egg-on Dravid & Tendulkar to believe in themselves in what would certainly be a record-making chase. Go Laxman Go... Go India Go...

Posted by yoohoo on (July 25, 2011, 6:39 GMT)

For all those criticising dhoni's move to not bring in ishant after lunch, ishant has clarified that bit. Apparently, dhoni had asked him if he wanted to bowl immediately after lunch or take a break, and ishant wanted the break.

People also forget that without sehwag and sachin, dhoni was the only option as far as bowling was concerned. dravid, gambhir, laxman, mukund cannot bowl. Zaheer was out, and so raina and dhoni were required to bowl to give the bowlers a break and move the over rate along.

Posted by navi.sonu on (July 25, 2011, 6:36 GMT)

india win dis tym sure bcuz i have faith on mahi nd india team

Posted by thestunner316_15 on (July 25, 2011, 6:36 GMT)

guys... india's attack is not as listless as people are making it out to be... we lost our best bowler by far zak on the 1st day itself... i wouldve loved to see how england would play if tremlett or anderson injured himself on the 1st day... if zak was fit england wouldve struggled to reach 300 and the match would have been in the balance... ishant n praveen are bowling well - though bhajji is a massive concern.. i hope he finds some rhythm from the 2nd test onwards.. england fans beware - if u cant win this test, u will never win this series... india will play farrrr better from 2nd test onwards... i'm hopeful our boys can set up a draw today... go india go...

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 6:34 GMT)

In about 100 test matches where VVS and Dravid have played together, they have strung up only 2 stirring partnerships. But what partnerships were those! To hope that they would do it again is perhaps unfair considering the above statistics, even though its not beyond them. It would take a superhuman effort from India to save this test. As an Indian fan, I am hoping that some luck runs their way and they are able to hold on. Lets see!

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (July 25, 2011, 6:31 GMT)

@ shan 156 . we indians never said that our team is no.1 because they are good as west indies and australia of 80s & 90s. we are no.1 because we are just a little bstter than the other teams right now. if you look at the record of past two or three years india have managed to draw or win a test even in overseas when the team is not in goood situation.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (July 25, 2011, 6:18 GMT)

@cspiers .yeah .england have a very good opening pair . but we have a specialist bowler in our side which takes special care of left handers(zaheer khan). even though he was not bowling in this test match .your so much hyped cook & strauss doesn't make a good opening stand in either innings (19 & 23). and if you are going towards the facts then cook " average is around 48 & strauss is also b?w 45 & 48. while our opening pair's average gautam gambhir (52) & sehwag (54 with a strike rate of 83).

Posted by svln on (July 25, 2011, 6:16 GMT)

It is ridiculous for the Indian team to go to a test with only four bowlers,particularly when we do not have a bowling all rounder.If the top six cannot score then we deserve to lose.The fact that Dhoni had to bowl tells the real story.It is time the selectors took a call on Harbhajan Singh.It is almost as if they are waiting for him to call it a day,which is not going to happen. Further,BCCI should make sure there are enough practice games before the first test on all tours.All they need to do is follow ECBs planning for an Ashes tour.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 6:15 GMT)

the first question is , will england be able to score 400 plus score , in the presence of zaheer khan and co?I bet in the presence of zaheer khan indian bowling will look much more potent..and once sehwag comes in it will be india all da way.. mark my words , india will come back so hard against england in the next test , england will find no way to escape .. wait and see....

Posted by SriramSurapureddy on (July 25, 2011, 6:09 GMT)

One of the major issues with Indian bowling is some how they are not able to get through the side especially after the taking first 5 wickets.This is not the first time but It had happened in past many times.What we are lacking is genuine fast bowler like Wasim akram or Malinga who can run through the tailenders quite effortlessly

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 5:28 GMT)

India's bowling is lacking the penetration that is required to be called the No.1 Test team in the World.....and a large part of the problem is the lackluster performance of Harbhajan Singh, he has been largely ineffective in the last 2-3 years. After Kumble retired all thought that Harbhajan would pick up the mantel and take India's spin attack forward..but unfortunately he seems to have tapered off. Dont remember the last series when he was really the reason India won a Test series.. I mean if he going to be ineffective even in 2nd innings of a match ...India will have a lot of problems because by that time the pitch has stopped helping the seamers and has started taking some turn for the spinners... even the selectors are not intervening here and asking Harbhajan to shape up or be ready to be shipped out...he is in the Indian team by default (taken for granted??)..time to try someone else??

Posted by vatsmanoj on (July 25, 2011, 5:28 GMT)

Both teams have played well but right now eng are one foot ahead and that is beacause of their fight back in 2nd ing dhoni call it wrong with not attacking straight away after lunch and missed catch in both ings did not help either hoping for a nail bitibg stuff on last day the wall and lax is still their and we all know if the get going they can play for ages this match has shown that what a great seires is going to happen and there is a lot of enjoyment for us but still i pray india wins

Posted by harryrockz on (July 25, 2011, 5:24 GMT)

For all who say that England have a great bowling attack and Anderson is one of the best bowlers, look at his wickets in the first innings. He took out only batsman no. 10 and 11. He was not able to pick up the wicket of any top order batsmen. And 2 wickets were lost by India due to poor batting (Laxman and Raina). Broad was the only bowler who was unplayable because he pitched up the ball in the right areas. If India can see off Broad, the they have a chance to get a draw in this game. If Gambhir is fit to play, he will for sure come in next and then we will see Dhoni himself should promote himself up the order because we cannot let 2 left handers come in one after another. Think Raina will for sure look to counter attack and get some runs. India are gonna for sure win the series no doubt. 2-0 (if Lords is a draw) or 2-1 (if India lose here). England has a great asset in Prior who is in the form of his life. Lets see how the last day pans out. Hope India puts up a challenge.

Posted by Marcio on (July 25, 2011, 5:22 GMT)

There are only two possible results in this game, and India can't win. We've all seen what the pitch does in the first session, so India won't score many in the first session, and will probably lose a wicket or two. That will leave them two sessions to get 300 runs with 7 or 8 wickets. It's not going to happen. As for injured fast bowlers, Australia has had four or five gone down in the last year. The problem is India doesn't have any decent replacements. The fact is India won the perfect toss and any decent attack would have scuttled the opposition on that wicket on the first day. 250 would have been respectable. Saying India have done well in this match is really pushing it. England have only lost 14 wickets and have scored 700 runs. How is that "creditable" for India?

Posted by Jagan72 on (July 25, 2011, 5:17 GMT)

Bhajji is disappointing in this test. Neither he took wickets nor he could contain. His figures 56-4-218-1 shows it. If the pitch is not assisting spinners atleast he could have put pressure by not giving runs. Giving runs at almost 4 per over is not acceptable in test cricket that too from a seasoned spinner. Though Yuvraj is a regular spinner, he would have definitely taken a few wickets. Then what is the point having an experienced spinner in the team. India can try Ashwin/Mishra/Ojha who more attacking. England are not good against left arm spinners and leg spinners. Try Mishra in the next test.

Posted by anver777 on (July 25, 2011, 5:10 GMT)

Ind has a uphill task on the 4th day..... all depends on Dravid & VVS....... can Dravid score his 2nd century of the match......I wonder if both bat long in the morning session then Sachin, Dhoni & Raina to follow possibility of an exciting finish !!!!!!!!!

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 25, 2011, 4:58 GMT)

Dhoni didnt manage his seamers very well yesterday and went for broke before lunch, afterwards the Seamers where exhausted and didnt have much left in the tank. He should have rotated Ishant and Kumar at one end 6 on 6 off, with Bhaji playing a containing role at the other end. with England at 62-5 it looked like India had swung the game back in thier favour but it was taken away from them by a brilliant afternoon session from Prior and Broad who punished exhausted bowlers. England arnt immune from injury as Tremlett looked less than fit when bowling and so must be a concern for the rest of the test and the next one. The games still got a twist or two left in it, but England need wickets in this mornings session. All in all its been a riveting game so far and set the rest of the series up well.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 4:55 GMT)

Many would say what a day in test cricket, but few would actually realize the importance of the last 4 days. If you have seen the ashes in 2005 you would know how test matches are decided in England. There, its all about fast bowlers finding some swing and bowling the spells of their life but the again you see big partnerships by tale enders. If you remember flintoff developed a knack of taking crucial wickets and that too in pairs. Similar things happened in this match. On day 1, zaheer almost burst through England top order if trott was caught by dhoni. Later on day 2 Praveen turned up and England were found begging against him. In india's fisrt innings broad and tremlett did the same and what we saw on day 4 by ishant simply leaves the series wide open. Dravid is in good form, tendulkar also in nice touch, laxman getting a start and chances of sehwag coming back. This series will definitely match up the action we saw in 2005 ashes.

Posted by kingcobra85 on (July 25, 2011, 4:38 GMT)

where is sriram veera when we need now...he ended bardinath's test career with his writings we need something similar for harbajan so we can get rid of him as well..Just cant see India going to test with a stone tried to its feets....Bring in fresh blood both mishra and ashwin can bat as well its not like they are useless with bat or for that matter atleast bring in Yuvraj even he can bowl better to pietersen and co..

Posted by CSpiers on (July 25, 2011, 4:32 GMT)

@rahul, you'd be wise not to base assumptions about strength of batting order on one test match. Im not even going to begin to point out how baseless your argument is.England have an excellent open pair, Cook has been in very good form for quite a while now. Come back with some facts.

Posted by CSpiers on (July 25, 2011, 4:27 GMT)

Seems clear to me after watching both the ashes and this series so far that england are the more balanced side, solid pace bowlers, solid spin, and solid batting, with some good fieldsman. India rely quite heavily on their stars and i can see with the likes of Dravid and Tendulkar retiring in the next few years that they'll have the same troubles that have hampered the Australian team when they lost a number of their star players.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 4:04 GMT)

@anexpat: i am sorry did u englad's opening pair was world class and india's fragile? the indian opening pair got a 50 run partneship in the first innings atleast....england's opening pair failed in both the innings. u surely werent sleeping when u were watching this gr8 match, were u? and india without its most experienced bowler managed to reduce u guys to 62 for 5......time to wake up guys!

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 3:59 GMT)

India in crisis!

Sehwag unfit to play! Gambhir injured during the course of play! Tendulkar down with viral fever! Zaheer out with his usual injury woes thereby rendering us a bowler short! Dhoni on the verge of getting a match ban! Harbhajan becoming way too predictable during the last couple of years! Ishant taking 33 overs to find the appropriate length on this pitch! Praveen Kumar too slow to make any timely inroads in the English line-up

In spite of these (may be being way too optimistic) - Indians are capable of drawing this match out ... courtesy to recent successes!

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (July 25, 2011, 3:45 GMT)

@anexpath . england have a very good opening pair . i don't think so.take a look at this match statistics .cook (11(42 balls), 1(28 balls).strauss(33 , 31) .even a youngster mukund scores 49 against good bowling attack.in the middle order pietersen and trott are good . but bell (45 ,0) & morgan (0, 18). and you called it astrong middle order . remember our mainbowler zaheer is nit playing .what would happen if he he was not injured ? england 1st innings 300 allout . 2nd innings 150 allout .

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (July 25, 2011, 3:28 GMT)

england are very lucky that they they are playing against a wounded team. first sehwag pulled off for two tests , then zaheer gets injured on 1st day now tendulkar and gambhir are also not fit .while england are playing with their full strength .still indian bowlers does a good job on the fourth day . india will come back hard at england in the second test . this is going to be a exciting series .

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 2:44 GMT)

Frankly, India's #1 ranking in Tests is a bit of an anomaly given that we have never won away series against Australia or South Africa. Certainly, there is no dynasty building as with the West Indies or later Australia. Not only will India slip down the rankings after the current series, a free fall is likely as the 3 Musketeers depart, and little Test match ability and fitness on the part of the younger players.

Posted by Shan156 on (July 25, 2011, 2:40 GMT)

kitten, Yes, India were hampered by the absence of Zaheer/ And, yes, he was troubling our batsmen. But, remember, conditions were very much in favor of bowling at that time. That is the reason why Dhoni opted to bowl. Zaheer's absence cannot be an excuse as it is the responsibility of the player himself and the management to assess one's fitness before declaring oneself match ready.

I very much agree with your assessment that England have to be at their very best if they have to win this series but so should India. I know they get better as a series progresses but England have a good team too and have developed that winning habit themselves. It should be a good contest.

Posted by Shan156 on (July 25, 2011, 2:34 GMT)

@Vivek Thuppil, Sometimes, it is good to appreciate the quality of the opposition rather than chest beating about how good your team is. After all, if all, or most of, you opponents are mediocre, then any win against them would count for little and any loss would count for more. Sure, England aren't a great team but, guess what, neither are India. They are the best right now but very few, even among Indian fans, would put them in the same pedestal as the West Indian team of the 80s or the Aussie team of the noughties.

And, if you think Harbhajan's performance in this test is as good as Swann's, then you really need to understand cricket better. I wouldn't say Swann was miles ahead but he definitely bowled better than Bhajan in this test. Also, remember, Swann was up against the best players of spin in the world. We all know he isn't in the same league as Warne or Murali but even those two have struggled against this Indian line-up.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 2:24 GMT)

I really doubt if Sachin can not come out to bat till half an hour into post-lunch session. Sachin has been out of the field for two sessions. True. He needs to spend as much time in the field before taking to the crease. True. But the same law of cricket says the recovery time also includes the time when the test match is not in progress, i.e., the overnight time duration is taken into account. So, Sachin should ideally be able to walk to the crease at, god forbid, the fall of/retirement of either of Dravid or Laxman..

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 1:42 GMT)

Bhajji took 6 wickets against WI in last match and before that he took 7 wickets in a match against SA. There are only 10 wickets in an inning and a bowler can not take all of them, all the times. Also he is filling a spot for the batsman.

Posted by cricmatters on (July 25, 2011, 1:18 GMT)

I must first apologise to Dravid and the Indian selectors because I though Dravid is past his use by date and India should invest more in future by giving the youngsters more opportunities. How wrong I was as the old adage goes "form is temporary but class is permanent". Indian selectors have done well to stick with Dravid during his lean times as he proved his worth in this test match. India hasnt' really found a replacement for Ganguly as yet with all this new talent not standing up to the task in lower middle order and deliverring the goods when required. It will be a big test for Swan as on a fifth day pitch England well be pinning their hopes on him to provide the break throughs. Bhajji should not be an automatic selection any more as he lacks the variety and attacking frame of mind required to win test matches. May be he will prove me wrong by scoring a well compiled fifty but this test match is already a winner for the viewers no matter what results it churns out.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 1:13 GMT)

A lot of criticism of Bhajji, but let's see the facts here. Bhajji's stats in this match of 56-4-218-1 are not very different from Graeme Swann's of 24-3-69-1 and Swann is talked about by the English as the greatest thing since sliced bread. While Bhajji's economy rate is significantly higher, this can be attributed to the different conditions the teams were playing under. Lord's is not a spinner-friendly wicket. Let's see Bhajji prove himself later this series before crucifying him.

Now re: the match, India will draw. England no doubt have a good batting line-up, stretching from the openers to the wicket-keeper, but their bowling is mediocre. If India could bat a whole day at Newlands on day 5 to save a Test facing the likes of Steyn, Morkel and Kallis (who have 621 Test wickets between them), they can surely do so against the more inexperienced attack of Anderson, Tremlett and Broad (who have only 371 Test wickets between them). I mean, Zaheer, Ishant & Sreesanth have more at 462!

Posted by kitten on (July 25, 2011, 0:47 GMT)

We should all appreciate that India is performing very creditably against England, considering Zaheer their main strike bowler, who in part of the first innings had already started to cause the English batsmen trouble with the removal of their main batsmen, Strauss and Cook, was off the field. Everyone is complimenting the English batsmen for the way they have played in this match. I agree they have taken full advantage of the situation as they rightly should. But let us for one moment think what would have been the situation, had Zaheer been fully fit? And this will give England some thought for the remainder of the series. If India, with only three bowlers, can put them under such pressure, what will they do with four! And that would include their best one, Zaheer. Make no mistake, as Ganguly rightly said, this team will be much better and stronger in the next few games. So this will definitely be a very entertaining series. Looking forward to the excitement.

Posted by smudgeon on (July 25, 2011, 0:34 GMT)

Surely India need to go all out to win this one. Aren't they supposedly the best batting lineup in world cricket? Time for them to prove they deserve the #1 tag, it's the mark of the best teams in test history that they won consistently and didn't just accept a strategic draw. It was great to Ishant fire up, he really is the finest quick India have produced in a long time, and provided he stays true to his game he should eventually prove to be the best they've ever had. Also great to see Broad bowling near his best again. I'd still tip England to bowl India out, rather than India hit the winning runs, but it'd be great to see them both striving for a win on the final day. Such a great match we're being treated to!

Posted by arvin on (July 25, 2011, 0:06 GMT)

england always find a leg spinner more difficult to play and mishra should have been preferred to bhajii... any way mishra is in form and bhajji since his twin 100's against kiwis is neither a batsman nor a bowler... but somehow mishra is not like by dhoni... team interest does not matter...

Posted by   on (July 24, 2011, 23:30 GMT)

Does anyone have any idea why Ishant Sharma was not brought back to bowl straight after lunch?

Posted by AjaySridharan on (July 24, 2011, 23:10 GMT)

i agree with the assessment of others about Bhajji's place in the team. He is looking quite listless. This would have been a perfect opportunity to blood a budding spinner like Ashwin...he would have tried harder and showed more variety. I'm not so sure about Mishra either...but a leg spinner in a test match is always a good weapon to have. I don't think Bhajji is feeling the heat of having to retain his spot in the side...is Sachin giving him a safety net?

Posted by AvidCricFan on (July 24, 2011, 23:05 GMT)

Dhoni made strategic mistake by not effectively using Ishant when Prior and Broad were fresh at the crease. With the kind of form Ishant was in, he should have been given a decent spell right after the lunch.

Posted by   on (July 24, 2011, 22:59 GMT)

Murali and Shane Warne vary the flight. Harbajan fears getting hit and bowl a meaningless trajectory. Mishra is a spinner. A leg spinner could get a wicket against the run of play. What about Ashwin he is not given a chance as Harbajan might lose his place.

Posted by pom_don on (July 24, 2011, 22:56 GMT)

England to win, I remember reading here a few days back how good a bowler bhaji is?

Posted by Alexk400 on (July 24, 2011, 22:30 GMT)

India will lose if dravid gets out early. it can happen. i have seen it.

Posted by   on (July 24, 2011, 22:28 GMT)

baji didnt show that he is a quality spinner. we have to fill this gap very soon.

Posted by insightfulcricketer on (July 24, 2011, 22:22 GMT)

Oh cricket ..beautiful cricket. If only Zaheer had been fit this game would have been more enthralling. Nothing to take away from English side they have stuck it out there and putting a great show. Whoever wins this series would be the deserved World Test Champion .

Posted by Mcgrath-Dravid-Flintoff on (July 24, 2011, 22:20 GMT)

Time and again ive asked the same question. why is harbhajan in the team? just to fill the fourth bowlers spot? agreed he can bat but hes not playing as a batsman. we need a bowler who can take wickets. does harbhajan undertsand what it means? WICKETS. please india, i bet even yuvraj will take more wickets with his useful left arm spin.

Posted by   on (July 24, 2011, 22:09 GMT)

if india pulls off a draw...i think they would be ahead mentally as they have asked a bunch of questions to the English batting line up without all the frontline bowlers firing on all cylinders.

Some have risen up and met the challenge...the second innings of England has been a revelation in terms of questions and answers..Catches offcourse win matches and India did not do well there. I think the Indian bowling has stood up to the challenge but the batting has been a let down..england cannot be complacent, india cannot feel too run down:) A FINE BALANCE indeed

Posted by   on (July 24, 2011, 22:00 GMT)

watched it at Lords today- what an awesome ebb and flow. prior was sensational but Rahul and Laxman took your breath away with their timing and skill. will take away some amazing memories

Posted by Humanoids on (July 24, 2011, 21:53 GMT)

From a Pakistani fan, Mark my words, Laxman will carry on to make a hundred. One of the very few elegant stroke players from SE Asia. Man of crisis! Even if he is playing against Pakistan, I wish he does well, and over the years he had done wonders! Another maestro is Dravid, both of them at the crease, and its a treat to watch test cricket. A rare breed of players that are getting instincts due to the likes of T20s. Tomorrow, i am sure England would be Dravid-ed and Laxman-ed!!!

Posted by   on (July 24, 2011, 21:50 GMT)

The test started with great expectations from both the teams !! Both the teams lived up to it, but I guess India had lost their way in trying to secure their captain for the next match. Nevertheless, I hope VVS and Dravid will start the day well tomorrow, and the test would end in a Draw.

Posted by needgreenpitches4bowlingallrounders on (July 24, 2011, 21:48 GMT)

@anuajm you are absolutely right in your assessment.Bhajji is the weakest of all bowlers in 400+ list also by strike rate and by average. He is not even close to be calling good spinner. He neither can contain nor can take wickets only thing he can do is wait for batsmen to make mistakes. I still remember his tour of Pakistan where everyone blasted him . Anyways i am sure its going to be a Draw. WHEN STUART BROAD CAN MAKE A 50 + SCORE WITH SR AROUND 80. there is no way that pitch is bad. LORDS PITCH ALWAYS GETS BETTER AND BETTER. DRAW is definitely on cards. But is indian superstars willing to Grind there way for a draw thats the question. I also have strange feelings for Strauss he should have declared around 370 with 5 sessions. I don't think 120 overs are going to be enough for England Victory especially the way pitch is playing

Posted by Vilander on (July 24, 2011, 21:27 GMT)

Harby singh has got to go. Mishra has to play second test. Who will replace zaheer ?

Posted by shilsen on (July 24, 2011, 21:12 GMT)

Whoever wins or loses (or if there's a draw, for that matter), this has turned out to be an excellent game, with some brilliant performances on both sides - albeit more for England, which is why they're in a much stronger position. I really hope the last day lives up to the previous four and goes down to the wire. As an Indian supporter, the perfect ending for me would be Dravid (having completed his second century of the match) still not out at the end, with Ishant for company and India 9 wickets down. I think I might actually enjoy that even more than an Indian win which, frankly, I think is out of the question. But maybe this game will throw up another twist or two. Here's hoping for some great batting and bowling on the last day.

Posted by Nampally on (July 24, 2011, 21:07 GMT)

India lacked the punch to finish off England from 62 for 5.Kumar who bowled so well in the first innings,ffailed to reproduce the same form. As a result India let Broad & Prior knock their bowling all over.If India got England out around 100, which was possible at one stage, India might have been on the verge of victory.Instead they are fighting to save the match. It is crucial for VVS & Dravid to play the pre-luinch phase and well into second session, if India has any chance of saving this match. Raina must be after Dhoni in the batting line up. The question is whether Sachin & Gambhir are available to bat? The pitch appears good but was raising dust. Towards the end of the day the ball was keeping low. So VVS & Dravid must plan to stay there for long. Both are crisis players as is Gambhir. India will rely on these guys to save them. On the other hand England bowling was quite average even though they got India out in the first innings.So it remains for India to expose the bowling.

Posted by anexpat on (July 24, 2011, 21:03 GMT)

Whatever the outcome tomorrow ( Enland win or Draw) ,one thing has emerged clearly that this Enland team represents a complete tream. A very good opnening pair,tough middle order, batting line up way down to No 8, an exellent bowling attack,both spin and fast Now let us compare the Indian team. A fragile opening pair, three super batsmen and then a lack of number six and seven batting ability(Dhoni,Raina/Yuvraj), a spent force spinner and a tolerable fast attack. You decide yourself which team should be no1.

Posted by   on (July 24, 2011, 21:02 GMT)

@anujam.. We need a class bowler like kumble.. Bhajji is a perfect oneday material.. Even after 400 wickets he do not deserve a place in the playing 11.. What a shame..

Posted by absha1 on (July 24, 2011, 20:55 GMT)

Broad is turning in a genuine all-round performance: botham-class.

Posted by GladiatorXI on (July 24, 2011, 20:28 GMT)

Bhaji seems to be of no use India should either go with all pace attack or pick yuvi just for his bowling

He will do better

Posted by demon_bowler on (July 24, 2011, 20:26 GMT)

Matt Prior is worth his weight in gold, bless his shiny bold pate and crooked, somewhat gruesome grin! It's not just the runs or the rate at which he scores them; his real value is that he is the most unselfish of cricketers. Prior bats for his team first, for his batting partner second, and for himself third. In the first innings he took the heat off KP when the latter was finding the going tough. In the second, he first rebuilt England's shattered innings, and having done so, then rammed home the advantage. When in sight of his century, he kept swinging away, putting the side's total before his own. He long ago settled the argument of who should keep for England, and as a batsman-wicketkeeper, he is probably better now even than Alec Stewart (most of whose best innings for England were without the gloves). Only Gilchrist in recent times has been more valuable. When India were here four years ago, Prior was a laughing stock and an embarrassment. Today he is the team's heartbeat.

Posted by landl47 on (July 24, 2011, 20:16 GMT)

A thrilling day of cricket. Ishant had a brilliant spell in the morning to bring India right back into the matcxh, but then Prior and Broad turned the tables and gave England a huge lead. Dravid and Laxman held on, although they needed some luck to do so. We'll see tomorrow whether they can keep it going. Over 340 runs and lots of twists and turns, test cricket at its best.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (July 24, 2011, 20:13 GMT)

A draw is very much possible. Win is a far cry. But can't rule it out if these two get going till lunch. I'm hoping for a century from Dravid and VVS with meaningful contributions from other batsmen as well if they get a chance. Raina and Sachin should step up like Dravid and VVS and play meaningfully in tense situations like these.

Posted by 5wombats on (July 24, 2011, 20:01 GMT)

What an excellent advertisement for Test match cricket this match is. I absolutely did not see india getting up and reducing England to 62/5 and 107/6 but then this is Test match cricket and these are the kind of things that make it so great. This is turning into one of the great games and I will be at Lords again tomorrow. If anyone wants to meet up for a drink at Lunchtime I will be at the statue of Dennis Compton behind the Compton Stand throughout the lunch break. I will be carrying at least one full-sized wombat. I assume you - you cannot miss me. See you there.

Posted by m_ilind on (July 24, 2011, 20:00 GMT)

If VVS and Dravid bat as well as they did today, it's going to be a gripping contest tomorrow! With God still to come, we still have a game on! Tomorrow is going to be very exciting, Eng may have bossed this game, but India continue to fight back, after the 1st innings debacle.

Posted by anuajm on (July 24, 2011, 20:00 GMT)

I am hopeful and sure of a draw tomorrow and looking forward to centuries from Dravid and Tendulkar. With so many injuries and effectively playing with 1-2 bowlers. India have shown great resilience and fight and should be able to manage a draw. India should have bowled out England for 200 runs (not taking anything away from Prior and Broad). But this match has ruthlessly exposed the limitations of Harbhajan as a test bowler. As a 'primiere' test bowler Bhajji should have given much better support to OK and Ishant but neither did he take wickets and nor was he able to stop runs. A lot of people say he is a confidence bowler and needs a wicket early on, well he got one today, what happened thereafter? When he got 4 wickets in the 2nd innings of the 3rd test match, 2 of them were clear not outs and umpiring mistakes, as always he was not able to close out and get rid of Chandrapaul or Fidel which costed India dearly. He is clearly the weak link!!

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Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.
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