England v India, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 2nd day

Bhuvneshwar counters Ballance century

The Report by David Hopps

July 18, 2014

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England 219 for 6 (Ballance 110, Kumar 4-46) trail India 295 by 76 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Highlights: Ballance ton leaves the match even

Another batting failure for Alastair Cook, an increasingly beleaguered England captain, followed by a long, hard grind against a persistent India attack on London's hottest day of the year: this Lord's Test match Friday was never going to grant its favours easily. But Gary Ballance does not look like a batsman who needs an easy life. His second hundred in a fledgling England career strengthened the impression that he is a rock on which England can build.

Andy Flower, England's previous coach, praised Jonathan Trott as his rock when Trott's departure from last winter's Ashes tour proved to a harbinger of their decline. It might just be that Peter Moores, and his revamped selection panel, have unearthed a rock of their own at No 3. Not a gurning rock given to idiosyncratic pitch markings, but a red faced, red necked rock winning seeping admiration among England observers.

There is no instant appeal in Ballance, no flamboyance, no fripperies, no manly tattoo or golden curls. He reddens up so quickly that in a series without DRS he is his own walking Hot Spot. On an easing pitch, his innings did not quite have the brilliance of Ajinkya Rahane's on the first day. But there is resourcefulness by the bucketload.

What he again displayed in his second Test hundred at Lord's this summer - Sri Lanka, like India, have also learned of his merit - was a strong technique, based on a preference for the back foot, a fondness for shots square on the off side vaguely reminiscent of Andrew Strauss and, as he established himself, some full-bodied drives from strong forearms. He batted further forward than he normally does to combat the seam. He has dealt with the Lord's slope with aplomb - in his other match here he made a hundred for Yorkshire. He looks to be a combative, thinking cricketer.

He will curse his misfortune as he fell to the third over with the second new ball, a leg side strangle won by a little bit of wayward outswing from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, leaving him with four wickets for an impressive day. Matt Prior joined the nightwatchman, Liam Plunkett, who had been sent out more than seven overs from the close to protect him. Closing without further damage at 219 for 6, England trailed by 76 runs.

This has been an excellent contest and India performed with determination on an easing pitch, the bowlers maintaining good lines throughout the day and their ground fielding reliable. Bhuvneshwar was a reliable, unshowy leader of the attack, undertaking probing long spells as if they were just part of a normal day's work. The spinners are also in this game on a dry, grassy surface - not that either side is fielding one of any renown.

Ballance should have fallen on 32 when he edged Stuart Binny between MS Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan at first slip, both of them equally culpable for not responding. Binny, bowling his medium-paced wobblers on the ground where his father, Roger, performed so well in the 1983 World Cup final, should have marked his second over in his second Test with a first Test wicket.

Instead, Binny became a catalyst for his century: five boundaries struck off him in eight balls. He drove him through the off side off back and front foot then clipped Binny for two more teeth-gritting boundaries in his next over to pass 100. Determined not to give it away, he produced a barn-door defence to the next ball only for his timing to be so perfect by then that it whistled for four down the ground.

It was a strong-willed, grounded response by Ballance, considering that he arrived at Lord's for the start of the match to discover that he had achieved Minor Celebrity status, in the form of newspaper photographs of a boozy night in in Nottingham after the Trent Bridge Test and the gentlest of reminders from England about his public image. His hundred achieved, he opted to keep his shirt on.


Gary Ballance defends off the front foot, England v India, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 2nd day, July 18, 2014
Gary Ballance could be England's new rock © Getty Images
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England are under considerable pressure. They suffered all day for their failure to take advantage of excellent bowling conditions on the day one. India's first-innings 295 was inflated; England's batsmen were deflated. India's bowlers stuck impressively to basic principles in conditions where high humidity encouraged the swing bowlers and there was still some nibble in the pitch, although neither were as evident as on the opening day when Rahane played with such a flourish in making 103.

Cook's day started well when he held a juggling catch at first slip - Ben Stokes finding Mohammed Shami's edge in the second over of the day - to ensure that India's last pair added only five to their overnight total: this time at least there would be no last-wicket heroics.

But his demoralising run of scores will again introduce the conversation England's hierarchy simply does not want to hear: his right to the England captaincy. He is beset by criticism both of his tactical nous and dried-up batting returns. It is 26 innings since he Cook scored the last of his England record 25 hundreds, a run during which his average has dropped into the 20s.

His footwork was static as Bhuvneshwar caught him on the crease with an outswinger that continued down the slope from a good length. Dhoni collected an easy catch from a languid push, leaving Cook to reflect on a summer of mounting misery as he returned to the pavilion.

Bhuvneshwar deserved recognition for his part in Cook's wicket. He bowled him an over of inswingers the previous over before producing one which left Cook, ensuring that his otherwise confident and well-managed start fell prey to what has now become a recognisable bat dangle.

Criticism sounded immediately. Geoffrey Boycott, commentating on BBC Radio's Test Match Special, called for Cook to return to county cricket to return his form. But even if England took such a desperate move, the fixture list would afford him no release with the counties about to commit to a month of predominantly limited-overs cricket.

Releasing Cook from the strains of captaincy is equally difficult. England, who have not won for nine Tests, their worst run in 20 years, have pinned their entire strategy on allowing Cook to develop a side in his own image and there are no obvious contenders to replace him. His failures, though, cannot continue forever, especially if England go behind in the series.

Sam Robson, who was dropped off Shami the over before Cook was dismissed - a regulation chance for Rahane at second slip - did not make good his let off. He became Bhuvneshwar's second victim when he drove at one that faded down the slope, giving Dhoni another simple catch.

Ian Bell and Joe Root perished in the afternoon. Bell's form has also lapsed and he gave Kumar a third wicket when he attempted to leave a ball that bounced and chased him from just short of a length and gloved to Ravindra Jadeja at third slip, a shaken response to a challenging but by no means unplayable ball.

Root's wicket belonged to Jadeja. He was beaten in the flight by a ball which skidded into his pads, but it was a bad decision by umpire Bruce Oxenford who missed an inside nick. Ballance and Moeen Ali then assembled a fifth-wicket stand of 98 after tea before Moeen's careful resistance ended with a weak lbw playing across a full ball when M Vijay was granted a brief perambulation.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (July 19, 2014, 19:38 GMT)

If there was another swing bowler (like Sandeep Sharma) bowling in tandem with Bhuvi, India would be sitting on a sizable lead right now. But our team management likes to play always-a-rookie Ishant Sharma instead.

Posted by vkumar_086 on (July 19, 2014, 13:51 GMT)

Dhawan again threw it again....in next test Gambhir should replace Dhawan....he is also left hander, so it will remain same as left-right combination...today at least 250 runs should be on the board with loss of not more than 4 wickets....if India able to score some 100-150 runs more in one session of tomorrow...match will be really interesting

Posted by android_user on (July 19, 2014, 12:43 GMT)

@artificial.intelligence- "deplorable situation for 2nd most populous country".. It's a ridiculous statement.. It doesn't matter what's country's population is..You need 11 players to play not 1 or 2 billion..Jamaica has much less population than SL but SL hasn't produced a sprinter like Usain Bolt.. Your statement is nullified..

Posted by Samychennai on (July 19, 2014, 12:18 GMT)

Dhoni and Dhawan's lazy stuff kept Ballance to make century and reduced the advantage of India's lead atleast 80 runs. Indian need to make minimum 300 runs to win this test. Anyhow we could expect the result in this match. Expecting 100 from Dhawan.

Posted by artificial.intelligence on (July 19, 2014, 12:16 GMT)

enough already with sharma...Bowling is the only job he has and he still cant summon the talent at will and stick to the basics...deplorable situation for the 2nd most populous country who fail to produce quality players...when we should have been producing truck loads off...and how long before shami becomes another ishanth

Posted by android_user on (July 19, 2014, 12:12 GMT)

Indians scored 295 on a green top, English scored 316 on a mowed pitch devoid of grass like day 1 and also an eased out wicket.. 'nuff said I guess.. Who struggled with the bat and who bowled better? Any person with good cricketing knowledge would easily answer this..

Posted by   on (July 19, 2014, 12:09 GMT)

Big congratulations to Bhuvi Kumar for his 6-for.Proud moment for him to be on the honors board in Lord's.Match evenly poised right now.This day is crucial for both teams.

Posted by Samychennai on (July 19, 2014, 12:03 GMT)

Now real pressure for English bowlers to restrict Indians under 250. You will see the animated faces if Indians aren't loss wicket before tea break.

Posted by   on (July 19, 2014, 12:02 GMT)

India atleast need 350 to control the match. anything less than 350 will put india in trouble.

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David HoppsClose
David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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Players/Officials: Gary Ballance | Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Series/Tournaments: India tour of England
Teams: England | India
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