India make solid progress despite Anderson double
LONDON: England great James Anderson removed the in-form Rohit Sharma during a two-wicket burst but India were still well-placed they reached 157-2 at tea after losing the toss on the first day of the second Test at Lord’s on Thursday.
Sharma had been in excellent touch while making 83 during a first-wicket stand of 126 with K.L. Rahul — the first by an overseas opening pair in a Test in England since 2016, when Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva achieved a similar feat at Lord’s.
But Anderson, increased his England record tally of Test wickets to 622 when, having moved a couple of deliveries away from Sharma, he got one to jag back.
Anderson then had Cheteshwar Pujara edging to third slip Jonny Bairstow for nine, the batsman’s latest low score.
Pujara’s exit came during a spell of 2-17 in six overs from Anderson, who had been doubtful for this match with a thigh problem.
But Rahul, following his 84 in last week’s rain-marred drawn first Test at Trent Bridge, was 55 not out at tea, with India captain Virat Kohli still to score.
It needed a high-class delivery to dislodge Sharma who, for all he missed out on an eighth Test century, could be proud of a 145-ball innings featuring 11 fours and a six.
There had been fears Anderson might not be fit to take his place in an England attack already missing Stuart Broad after his longstanding new-ball partner had been ruled out of the rest of this five-match series with a calf injury.
It was no surprise when England captain Joe Root — the only home batsman to pass fifty in the series opener with scores of 64 and 109 — decided to field first after winning the toss under overcast skies and on a green-tinged pitch that promised to assist his quick bowlers.
But India were 46-0 after a morning session where rain meant only 18.4 overs were bowled.
Sharma was initially watchful against the new ball duo of Anderson and Ollie Robinson, taking 46 balls to score his first eight runs.
But, bolstered by a correct defence, he scored 43 runs off his next 37 deliveries.
Both Sharma and Rahul exhibited great self discipline in leaving the ball outside off stump when not committed to an attacking shot.
And when left-arm swing bowler Sam Curran, on as first change, strayed in direction, Sharma hit him for four fours in an over including a stylish square drive.
Sharma, 35 not out at lunch, completed an 83-ball fifty including eight fours, He then hooked an 88 mph delivery from Mark Wood, recalled in place of Broad, for six and then pulled him commandingly for four.
Off-spinner Moeen Ali, in for Dan Lawrence in one of three changes to England’s XI, then saw Sharma dismissively loft him over mid-on for a four that bounced just short of the rope.
Rahul, however, did loft Moeen for six, his first boundary in a 137-ball fifty.
INDIA (1st Innings):
R.G. Sharma b Anderson 83
K.L. Rahul not out 55
C.A. Pujara c Bairstow b Anderson 55
V. Kohli not out 0
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-5, NB-1) 10
TOTAL (for two wkts, 52 overs) 157
FALL OF WKTS: 1-126, 2-150.
TO BAT: A.M. Rahane, R.R. Pant, R.A. Jadeja, I. Sharma, Mohammed Shami, J.J. Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.
BOWLING (to-date): Anderson 14-4-28-2; Robinson 12-4-22-0 (1nb); Curran 11-1-40-0; Wood 8-1-38-0; Moeen Ali 7-1-20-0.
ENGLAND: R.J. Burns, D.P. Sibley, Haseeb Hameed, J.E. Root, J.M. Bairstow, Moeen Ali, J.S. Buttler, S.M. Curran, O.E. Robinson, M.A. Wood, J.M. Anderson.
UMPIRES: M.A. Gough (England) and R.K. Illingworth (England).
TV UMPIRE: R.A. Kettleborough (England).
MATCH REFEREE: B.C. Broad (England).
Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2021