England v India, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 3rd day July 19, 2014

India encouraged by variable bounce


Since India lost at Cape Town in 2006-07 by five wickets, India have batted first 14 times in Tests outside Asia; this is the 15th. They have lost five of those, either by an innings or by 10 wickets. Others have either been drawn or won.

This has been a young trend, but if India compete in these challenging Tests, they do not end up losing. India have competed on level terms for three days, and are effectively 145 for 4 with three and a half batsmen to follow. There is cause for optimism, but Cheteshwar Pujara is looking at a score of at least 300 to feel comfortable while defending.

"We are looking at 350 if we can," Pujara said. "First thing's first, the first target is 300. If we can bat well and get somewhere around 350, it will be a very good total to defend.

"We can't think of what target we want. What we can focus on is to bat well. Vijay and MS [Dhoni] are batting really well at the moment. If they can carry on, with Binny and Jadeja to come, if they can score some runs - and we can't forget Bhuvneshwar Kumar's batting in this series - so we have a few batsmen who can bat well and score runs for us. Focus is to score as many runs as possible and then think about it."

The pitch seems to have eased out from the first two days, but there is still enough seam movement to be had to keep the bowlers interested. Added to it is the variable bounce now making an appearance.

"There isn't much grass on the wicket now, but the bounce is variable now," Pujara said. "When I was batting a couple of balls stayed really low, and a couple of balls kicked, which weren't bouncers but they just kicked off the wicket. So yeah, there is variable bounce."

Like Pujara, Liam Plunkett thinks the game is in the balance. If India have confidence to draw from having defended well, England also know the Lord's pitch can flatten out towards the end. Plunkett was part of the Yorkshire side that earlier this summer failed to defend 472 against Middlesex.

"I was here when we got 'Chris Rogered' earlier in the season, on a wicket that did a little bit early on - a bit like this one," Plunkett said.

He would not say what sort of target will make them uncomfortable, but felt confident of his side's chances batting last on this pitch. "It's a good wicket, and I think the sun's just going to make it a bit flatter. The match is bit even at the minute. But if we come out in the morning and get one or two, it quickly changes in our favour."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 20, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    dhoni's technique tooooooooooo weak always gets out same way

  • sam on July 20, 2014, 9:44 GMT

    @TRAM You are exactly right. I have been shouting from rooftops (if that is possible in this forum) that MS Dhoni simply has to go as test captain (he can remain a test batsman/keeper at 7). He is atrocious tactically and also how he shows preferential treatment towards Jadeja and Ishant. Still Jadeja is a very big threat on rank turners; he is useless everywhere else (and he a tail-ender with the bat). Ishant needs a bad batting lineup and a helpful pitch to be threatening (and is a useless batsman and fielder). Shami is out of form and needs replacement (temporarily) and Umesh and Rishi Dhawan should have been in the squad in place of Aaron and Binny. If Dhoni is reluctant to accept it let us drop him and bring in Naman Ojha who has a better batting technique than Dhoni and seems his game has improved under Amre.

  • Pankaj on July 20, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    For England to win they have to ensure the match is over today. If they cannot get India out in a session their troubles will grow exponentially. Then they will need to pull up their socks to win. The daily umpiring howler has to be accepted by India - they knew what they were getting into.

  • Dummy4 on July 20, 2014, 6:59 GMT

    I wonder if India can put up 250 target for England in this pitch..if they can do so, then I am sure England are going to loose.

  • Dummy4 on July 20, 2014, 5:18 GMT

    Most England fans would be disappointed if they don't win from this position. That will also make their team look an average team.

    After, India's most reliable batsman Rahane (by current form), got "Oxenforded" , India will be reasonably satisfied if they can draw this one; and look for winning effectively a three match series.

  • Android on July 20, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    first two sessions will easily decide the outcome of this match - no more no less... if vijay and dhoni can stick around for at least another 25 to 30 overs its a huge plus for Ind... with jadeja binny and bhuvi we can get at least 300 on the lead and it will be a really tight chase for England... however if Ind lose 2 wickets this morning itself then its curtains

  • James on July 20, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    England may think they are slightly ahead as of now, as there is little chance that India can survive the first two sessions, and there is lot of time left after that- with the pitch behaving okay now. The only concern is if some of these guys stick around and increase the lead to 300 which could be a very challenging total on this pitch. I think Jadeja will come into play on the fifth day.

  • Steven on July 20, 2014, 3:09 GMT

    This looks like England's test to lose India need at least to set a target of 300 to 350 can't really see them getting close to that the new ball will be due before lunch and that should take care of dhoni then jadeja and binny are to reckless not sure how long they will last then the bowlers this pitch is better then the Trentbridge pitch cos there should be a result most likely a England win unless India bat out of there skins still not enough pace and bounce in the pitch for me but at least it's abetter contest between bat and ball which equals abetter game of cricket nothing wrong with a green pitch cos it keeps the batsman honest

  • Dummy4 on July 20, 2014, 0:31 GMT

    An enthralling test match. Test cricket is definitely not dying.

  • kushal on July 19, 2014, 22:39 GMT

    This is India's game to lose from here. Anything above 250 is good enough. While I say this, I feel very nervous that SL might lose the other test. Lets see

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