India have their backs to the wall after getting bowled out for just 286 on the third day’s play of the first Test at Lord’s. England are now in the driver’s seat having captured a huge first innings lead of 188 runs with two full days left in the match. India’s day could have been a lot worse had Rahul Dravid not come up with a determined 33rd Test century.
Tale of the Morning Session :
India went into the crucial Day 3 with all their 10 wickets in tact and the opening stand between Mukund and Gambhir did extremely well to see off the new ball. However, the introduction of Stuart Broad saw England getting their first breakthrough in the 19th over when Gautam Gambhir (15 from 46 balls) got bowled through the gate by a full length late inswinger. It was a good start at 63 for 1 when Rahul Dravid walked in. Young Abhinav Mukund who was looking extremely good in his defence and strokeplay lost his wicket in the 25th over when he attempted an expansive square drive to a widish full delivery from Broad which he dragged onto the stumps. Mukund fell for 49 (from 88 balls with 5 fours) and thus missing out on a second test fifty.
Sachin Tendulkar came into the middle after a standing ovation and took India safely to lunch at 102 for 2 in 32 overs along with Dravid.
Tale of the Afternoon Session :
After lunch, the experienced duo completed the 50 of their partnership. But when Tendulkar got into the nervous 30s at this venue, his jinx continued as he got sucked into a false cover drive off a widish juicy delivery from Broad. Tendulkar was caught by Swann at second slip in the 44th over and the master could only better his previous highest Test score at Lord’s by just the 2 runs! For the record, Tendulkar scored 34 from 58 balls (with 6 fours) in a third wicket partnership of 81 runs.
The English players had their tails up after Sachin’s exit and at both ends, the bowling was just too good which included the off spin of Graeme Swann as well. The hosts would have consumed two more quick wickets of Laxman and Dravid but for a couple of slip catches going down both off Stuart Broad in the 46th over. First it was Laxman forced to nick a delivery off the backfoot which flew straight into Strauss at first slip who put down a sitter. Just five balls after this, Dravid edged Broad on the frontfoot to Swann at second slip who spilled a diving catch to his right.
VVS Laxman who wasn’t comfortable in the crease lasted a little over 10 overs before he got out in an unlucky manner. It was a short and rising delivery from Tremlett down the legside in the 56th over to which VVS Laxman (10 from 36 balls) played a wristy flick shot which unintentionally went in the air and was timed too sweetly to find the safe hands of long leg! India from 182 for 4 was further dented to 183 for 5 in the next over when Suresh Raina (0 from 2 balls) got hurried onto the backfoot in a flick shot which he missed and got hit on the pad plumb by a drifting arm ball bowled from round the sticks by Graeme Swann.
India disappointingly went to Tea at 193 for 5 in 62 overs with Dravid on 59 and having just MS Dhoni and the tail left to support him.
Tale of the Final Session :
The visitors did a decent repair job after Tea through Dravid and Dhoni with the English attack just getting a little softer. Until the second new ball was available, it wasn’t a tough task in protecting their wickets for Dravid and Dhoni. The pair added 57 runs for the 6th wicket before the second new ball broke the partnership in the 84th over. Tremlett was the man getting his short delivery to seam away with bounce to force MS Dhoni (28 from 103 balls with 2 fours) to edge him to second slip to have India at 240 for 6. Tremlett after a couple of balls which included a noball, got Harbhajan Singh out for a duck. Harbhajan Singh tamely flirted with a rising delivery outside off to get caught behind as India slipped to 241 for 7.
Praveen Kumar, the next man in played his natural game backing away from the stumps and playing the attacking shots whenever the ball was in his zone. After a useful cameo of 17 from 13 balls (with 2 fours), Praveen Kumar got bounced out by Stuart Broad who followed the right hander with a short delivery in the 89th over which was fended off blindly towards first slip. Praveen added 35 useful runs for the 8th wicket to help India save the follow on.
The injured Zaheer Khan came up with Suresh Raina as a runner and saw Rahul Dravid register a 33rd Test century. Zaheer lasted only 7 balls for his duck before he got castled on the backfoot by a late outswinger from Anderson which hit his off stump. Last man Ishant Sharma (0) hung in for 12 balls before he edged Anderson to Prior on the backfoot to leave Dravid stranded on 103* (from 220 balls with 15 fours). It was the first Test century for Dravid at Lord’s. India got bowled out for 286 in 95.5 overs.
For England, Stuart Broad was the pick giving away only 37 runs in 22 overs and capturing 4 wickets. Tremlett was expensive with 87 runs in 23.5 overs but came good taking three wickets. Graeme Swann was very attacking getting the ball to turn sharply and also got lovely drift and dip in the air which Harbhajan struggled to get.
The hosts batted out a little over 15 minutes to settle for 5 for no loss in a 5 overs before the close of the third day’s play. India will be without Zaheer Khan in this second innings as well.