Match Analysis

Stuart Broad hits blast-off to cap England's dominance

There were the makings of a full Broad 'streak' before rain brought an early tea, but this was the quick bowler at his menacing best

Four slips, leg slip, leg gully. Short leg. Silly mid-on. Silly mid-off. Two wickets in the over already, including a hat-trick of referred appeals. Virat Kohli back in the hutch and an intermittently soggy Lord's now crackling like a heath fire. This was the Stuart Broad Effect. This is what it means to bend a Test-match innings to your will.
Nobody in contemporary world cricket gets on a roll quite as remarkably as Broad. The signs that he is about to soar are as exhaustive as a final cabin check before take-off. Knees pumping: Check. Nostrils flared: Check. A mild sense of grievance after an excruciatingly near-miss: Check. And most importantly of all, a Test series that is begging to be seized: Checkmate.
On seven occasions in his Test career to date, Broad has claimed five wickets or more in a single stunning spell, and had it not been for a merciful flurry of rain that allowed India to scarper for an early tea, that would surely have been eight today. Without exception, those previous interventions had come with the series still in the balance - most notably in three home Ashes deciders in a row from 2009 to 2015. Today's break may have broken Broad's rhythm (or more accurately his trance), but by then - and for the first time since the Johannesburg Test in 2016 - the contest had been snapped like a piece of kindling.
"As a powerful performance, it was right up there," said Broad. "We know we got the best of the conditions, but when we got them, there was a lot of skill in the side. When you get the ball swinging you can chase the game.
"I was actually gutted when that rain arrived," he added. "At Lord's when you get those clouds it can zip quite late and it was really doing that, but when we came back after the tea break the clouds had lifted slightly, so that was a real shame because I was feeling in a great rhythm."
For Joe Root, England's captain, all he had to do was harness that whiff of cordite, and keep it wafting underneath his bowler's nose. "You have to make sure you don't over-attack and get too giddy," said Root. "But ultimately when someone is in that frame of mind, in that zone, it doesn't really matter where you put the fielders. You know they're going to ask the right questions, make it very difficult … it's a lovely feeling to have as captain."
Broad's fires had been ignited from the moment he returned for his second spell. Cheteshwar Pujara immediately aimed a loose swipe outside off, before Ajinkya Rahane inside-edged past his stumps two balls later. It was all the encouragement he needed to pick those knees up a touch higher and keep pounding that same sixpence of turf, just outside the right-hander's off stump. In his very next over, Rahane's resolve was splintered by consecutive deliveries that scuttled then kicked from the same awkward length. A fence to Keaton Jennings' right at second slip, and Broad had been cleared for blast-off.
"It was great," said Root. "In his second over, he came up to me and said 'I feel in really good rhythm today, and I'm looking forward to a long spell' - which is exactly what you want to hear from one of your senior bowlers."
"He didn't disappoint - he bowled exceptionally well in those conditions, and it must have been very difficult to come up against that."
That is putting it mildly. Broad, like England's other outstanding bowler of the week, Chris Woakes, endured a rough Ashes series - a loss of snap in his wrist exacerbated by nagging worries over his long-term heel injury - and he went into the New Zealand leg of England's winter with his role as James Anderson's new-ball partner under scrutiny, if not his overall place in the side.
But in spite of a relative paucity of wickets in the first three innings of the series, the threat that went missing in Australia has been handsomely restored in the off-season - most notably thanks to some long and solitary hours of technical fine-tuning in the Trent Bridge indoor school ahead of the New Zealand Tests. According to Cricviz, Broad's average speed this year has been a sharp 84.3mph, the fastest he's clocked since 2011, and at an average length of 7.1m, he's been bowling roughly a foot fuller than at any stage in those preceding seven years too.
The upshot was a detonation of India's resolve - once again epitomised by the extraction of their captain Kohli. Struggling with a back strain that all of India will hope is as much a metaphor as an ailment, Kohli survived one referral for a leg-side strangle, but not the next, as another Broad lifter flicked off the glove and into Ollie Pope's outstretched hands at short leg.
That wicket of Kohli meant, of course, that for the fourth innings in a row, the most prized scalp of the series had eluded the one bowler who hankers after it more than any other. But with overall match figures of 9 for 43 in 25.2 overs, as well as his 550th Test wicket, his 100th at Lord's, and his 99th in Anglo-Indian contests, more than any other bowler in Test history, James Anderson won't exactly be heading to Trent Bridge feeling short-changed.
"He's a special, special commodity, isn't he?" said Root. "He's something that doesn't come along very often and we've got to enjoy him while he's around. There's been chat about his longevity but, at the minute, he's bowling better than he ever has before. Even though the conditions suited him, you've still got to put the ball in the right area and ask the right questions of the batters. Throughout the whole game he did just that, he set the tone well with Stu, and as a whole bowling group we were really, really good."
For all that Broad has had his ups and downs in recent times, there was never an outright suggestion that he's past his prime at the age of 32 - while Anderson, at 36, has arguably entered a period of zen-like mastery that will surely, finally, quieten those doubters who claim that his lack of equivalent impact in non-swinging conditions is a reason to disqualify him from the ranks of the all-time greats.
Broad's admirable indifference to what anyone other than his team-mates think of him means that any such debate about his status is irrelevant. And yet, as he slipped past Dale Steyn and Shaun Pollock into the all-time top ten of Test wicket-takers, it was another reminder of how fortunate England are to have two such titans in their ranks, and how crucial it will be to ensure they remain at the top of their game for as long as their bodies will allow.
"I think that's something we will have to manage, and will have to take into account the workloads over the next three games," said Root. "But when they're performing as they are, and making the game shorter, it makes it a lot easier for them to be fit and be ready to play in the next game. If there are, it's a great position to be in."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo @miller_cricket