First day horror
The start was terrible. The Indian pacemen, two of them bowling for the first time in a Test at Lord’s, had ‘butterflies in the tummy’, and England took off with 68 in the first hour. To top it all, Dinesh Karthik dropped Strauss (right) —a sitter if ever there was one, and Strauss piled up 96. The opening gambit failed, India had lost their way straight off.
Where have the Pathans and Nehras disappeared? When India needed an experienced swinger, a man who could move the ball with control and effect, Dravid could only turn to two talented but relatively raw bowlers. At Lord's, a man like Ryan Sidebottom (left) would have been a wonderful asset, but India's cupboard was bare.
No wag in the tail
The last four batsmen added 35 in the first innings, and nine in the second (so far). Clearly, the tail refused to wag (as usual), but when the lower order batsmen do not put a price on their wickets, it makes a bad scorecard worse. The art of stonewalling the bowlers can be invaluable, it is a lesson India have not learnt.
Much too wary
India's whole approach to batting smacked of an uneasy defensiveness — possibly because they already believed they would have problems in seaming, swinging conditions. The ball did move and a good one would get a batsman, so there was an urgent need to whack the bad deliveries and tot up the runs like England did. India didn't.
Dhoni would be the first man to admit that his work behind the stumps was not quite clean. He clearly struggled, conceding 18 byes in two innings. True, the bowlers were erratic and inaccurate, not making his task easy, but he could have done better. The saving grace was his batting on Monday.
On Sunday, Pietersen took the game away. The Indian pacemen had done well to reduce England to 132 for five when he opened fire. What could a team do? Perhaps put all men on one side of the wicket and then bowl there. India tried it, but Pietersen moved right across his stumps to whack the ball to the legside from outside off --- he was unstoppable.
The doubtful decision against Dravid in the second innings (lbw to debutant Chris Tremlett, when the ball clearly hit him outside off-stump) was bad luck. But it happens. However, it meant that India's most dependable batsman had had a miserable outing. India have rarely won abroad without a Dravid major.
Instead of showing grit and gumption, the Big 5 seemed to suffer stage fright at Lord's. India next tour England for a Test series in 2011, making it practically certain that Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble and possibly Laxman will not play a Test here ever again. It was an occasion for the players to raise their game. That never happened.
Blues on a sunny day
India were 145 for four on Day 2, 153 behind, and the possibilities were immense. They had lost Karthik, Jaffer, Dravid and Tendulkar, but Ganguly was batting confidently, Laxman and Dhoni were waiting. The third morning was bright and cheerful, the surface had no devil in it. Yet, India added just 56 that morning, before collapsing, conceding 97. It was always catch-up thereafter.
When Kumble gets it right, India generally win. Unfortunately, in conditions admittedly not conducive to his style of bowling, Kumble could add just three scalps to his tally. On Day One, he struck important blows, sending back Strauss and Collingwood, but the returns were limited thereafter. In the second innings, the thrashing from Pietersen completed Kumble's sad Lord's farewell.