It was a sight Indian fans will remember for long.
Indian batsmen have often been at the receiving end of short-pitched bowling abroad but on Monday, Ishant Sharma dished out some heavy chin music, blowing away England and powering Team India to a famous Test win — their first overseas success in three years.
The 95-run victory also improved India’s awful record at the home of cricket to two wins in 17 Tests and put them 1-0 ahead in the five-match series. It also ended India’s run of 15 Tests without an away victory.
Using the short ball to perfection, Sharma took all but one of the six wickets to fall on the final day of the second Test, returning a career-best 7 for 74 to dismiss England for 223.
It was far from a cakewalk, though. England’s overnight pair of Joe Root and Moeen Ali offered stubborn resistance in the morning. The fifth-wicket pair added 101 runs before Ali gloved a simple catch to Cheteshwar Pujara off Ishant at the stroke of lunch.
England went into the break needing 146 runs with five wickets in hand but the willowy right-armer ran through the middle and lower order, bagging four more wickets. Though the likes of Virat Kohli, Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have become household names, India are very much a team in transition.
And the success at Lord’s was the culmination of the process that began in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December -- India’s first Test after Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement.
Twice since then, India had come close to claiming the all-important away Test win -– at Johannesburg and then in Wellington, New Zealand, in February. Both times, the bowlers failed to wrap it up for India. Till a few minutes to lunch at Lord’s, it seemed the disappointing story would play out again. The bowlers were trying hard but were blunted by the effect of the heavy roller, used at the start of the day’s play. It had evened out the surface, making it easier for the batsmen.
It was then that Ishant changed tactics and unleashed a barrage of short balls. England fell into the trap and it was all over in 55 minutes post-lunch. But, not before the final twist in the tale. The last man to fall was James Anderson, run out by Ravindra Jadeja, with whom he clashed during the drawn Test at Trent Bridge left both players facing possible suspension.
It’s not the big guns, except Ishant, who starred in the famous win. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (six wickets; 36 and 52 runs), Ajinkya Rahane (103), Murali Vijay (95) and Jadeja (68) were expected to provide the back-up in bowling and batting departments but they were the ones who set up it up for India.
For England, it has been 10 Tests without a win and the defeat leaves a big question mark over out-of-form captain Alastair Cook’s future.