England v India: In the space of 25 minutes, Test match cricket showed just what it is all about
Hosts find themselves back in the game after a late flurry
Saturday 19 July 2014
This was not one of the great days of Test match cricket and in fact as this series progresses, so too does the sense that this is not a match-up of two fantastic sides.
However if today did provide one thing then it was a reminder of just what makes Test cricket such an absorbing game.
At 4:55pm, this match appeared to be drifting, India were 118/1, 96 runs ahead and seemingly in charge on what appeared to be an increasingly docile pitch.
England it seemed had blown their chance to win this game by squandering the conditions on Day One and now India’s batsmen would make their overworked seamers suffer in the Saturday sun.
The atmosphere was subdued, the unmistakeable Lord’s murmur reduced to an even lower hum and even the normally packed members’ benches were dotted with empty spaces – the prospect of refreshment on offer inside the pavilion clearly a more enticing one than the cricket on show.
But then, just as the more sun and alcohol-soaked sections of the crowd were half-heartedly trying to whip up a Mexican wave, came five minutes to briefly turn the day and Test on its head.
Cheteshwar Pujara has looked superb so far in this series, but once again failed to go on and make a big score when well set – this time making a slight error of judgement to play at one outside his off stump and edge Liam Plunkett through to Matt Prior.
If Pujara made a slight error of judgment to fall for 43, then Virat Kohli was guilty of something far worse the very next ball.
Shouldering arms to Plunkett, he saw the top of his off stump knocked back and faced the ignominy of the long walk back to the dressing room barely a minute after he’d left it.
In approximately the length of time it might take you to walk round the outside of the ground, the match looked and sounded completely different, the muttering of the crowd replaced by a roar.
For the third time this summer Plunkett found himself on a hat-trick and although he fired the crucial delivery wastefully wide outside the off stump, it was not long before England struck again.
Ajinkya Rahane, whose first innings century kept India in this match, was the man to go, more a victim of poor umpiring than anything else.
A rising Stuart Broad delivery struck him on the arm guard and although the excellent catch by Prior was perhaps deserving of something, it should never have been given out.
Of course some might point out that had his national board not banned the use of DRS in this series then Rahane would have surely seen himself reprieved and a shocking decision would have been avoided.
Suddenly at 5:20pm India were 123/4, just 101 ahead, and England found themselves back in the game.
In the space of 25 minutes the match had turned and where there had seemed only one course of events suddenly there were several. In the space of 25 minutes, Test match cricket had shown just what it is all about.
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