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India’s victory over England in the Lord’s Test is rightly being celebrated. The venue is special for every cricketer, and it is a big relief for a team in transition after struggling for over three years, across 15 Tests, to win a Test away from home. This victory will be a major boost as all but two in the playing 11 — skipper MS Dhoni and pace hero Ishant Sharma — were playing a Test series in England for the first time.
India had faced major questions about the future as the batting greats retired and it was important that those who stepped into those big shoes made a mark. Still, it was fitting that eventually it was a team victory that showcased temperament, selflessness, skill and tactical acumen with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja setting it up before Ishant produced a magical spell on a pitch that was still good for batting on the final day. It has also emerged that it was Dhoni who persuaded Ishant to attack England batsmen with short-pitched deliveries. That outcome will be immensely satisfying for a skipper seen as too defensive in Tests when things don’t go his way.
The Lord’s victory should also be seen in a different perspective. It has come against an England side on the wane, and lacking confidence and motivation. Their best batsman and skipper Alastair Cook is battling to justify his place. That India still fought doggedly in both the Tests will immensely please them as they can realistically look forward to winning the series with three Tests left. India narrowly missed out winning Tests overseas, against South Africa in Johannesburg in December after a dramatic draw. In New Zealand, they lost in Auckland and drew in Wellington, paying the price for sloppy fielding. But the team in England has scored high on resilience so far. India will now have to build on this show of character, ensuring the consistency required to succeed away from home, the hallmark of a truly good side.