Rahul Dravid hardly put a foot wrong in the first innings at Lord's. Even when he came out to open in the final session of the fourth evening, the England bowlers were unable to make an impression on 'The Wall'.
With Dravid at his best, showing the same steely determination of his heydays, India fancied their chances of thwarting England’s victory bid. At 80 for one and a day to go, the fight was on.
But, the final morning was a different ball game altogether. So sure and confident the previous evening, Dravid was like a cat on a hot tin roof --- playing and missing, nudging and edging.
At the right time
Like a true leader of the pack, James Anderson had lifted his game to another level. And, the India batsmen, save VVS Laxman, were clueless as he fed them on the off-stump. Within minutes, Dravid fell and by the time Sachin Tendulkar walked in, Anderson was at his marauding best.
At one of his favourite grounds, the Anderson versus Dravid and Tendulkar battle will be the most keenly awaited piece of action when the five-day contest gets underway on Friday.
“I feel like I am in a really good place. In the first innings at Lord's, I did not bowl well; bowled a bit wide although I bowled pretty good lengths. I knew if I could hold my length and get my line back in the second innings, I could cause some damage. The fact that I could make that adjustment in the space of a couple of days really pleased me and showed me I'm in control of what I am doing,” said Anderson, looking back at the memorable five-wicket performance.
Dravid will go into the game with the confidence of the century behind him. Tendulkar, on the other hand, is working with a maniacal zeal to find his touch after the second innings struggle at Lord’s.
The duo's contest against Anderson is expected to light up Trent Bridge, quite like the one between Tendulkar and Ryan Sidebottom here in 2007. The first innings battle between the England left-arm pacer and the India stalwart is now part of cricketing folklore. Batting with Sourav Ganguly, the plan was to let the left-hander take as much of the strike against Sidebottom.
But, as it happened, Tendulkar ended up playing out Sidebottom for most part of that spell as the pacer didn't allow him a single. But the Indian held firm and it was a poignant moment when the two men saluted each other at the end.
Adding needle to the latest duel is the fact that Anderson has claimed Tendulkar six times in seven Tests and Dravid four times. However, the England pacer played down the talk of domination. "I don't bowl any differently to him (Tendulkar). He is a key dismissal just like a (Ricky) Ponting for Australia."
Anderson has an awesome record here, 28 wickets in four Tests. He is determined to add to the tally as it could help England scale the No. 1 position. “It’s nice to play on a ground where you've had success before. But on Friday, I won't be thinking about my past successes. I will be thinking about bowling well against this India batting line-up.”