Lesson of 2007 is that Strauss's men must finish the job

 

Lord's

Common sense as well as recent history suggests that England, having worked themselves into a winning position, would be well advised to complete the deal here today if they want to be the world's No 1 Test team by late August.

There is almost always room for improvement and, in the case of the home side, they can catch better and avoid a repeat of yesterday's top- order batting collapse when chapter two of this potentially spellbinding four-match tale starts to take shape in Nottingham at the end of the week.

While England were a few hard yards away from perfection over the first four days at Lord's, India have so far been a country mile short of what they are capable of producing at Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and The Oval. An early injury to senior fast bowler Zaheer Khan severely handicapped the visitors, of course, but too many of them looked as though this Test was being used as a warm-up match.

A similar thought, one seems to remember, occurred four years ago when India last played in these parts. Bad light and rain came to their rescue in the first Test of that series, also at Lord's, when they were just one wicket away from defeat on the final afternoon with a possible 43 overs left.

More than half the members of this England team – Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Matt Prior, Jimmy Anderson and Chris Tremlett, to name names – will, no doubt, recall the frustration they felt in 2007 (and, for sure, remember that the opposition's last batsman, Sree Sreesanth, somehow survived a leg-before appeal as the weather closed in).

How England were to rue those events. They went on to lose the Trent Bridge Test (which became more famous for the jelly beans that the hosts scattered, and which so fired up Zaheer that he bowled out of his skin, than the result). And then with a draw at The Oval, it was India's series.

Stray jelly beans apart, something similar is perfectly possible this summer – especially if India manage to leave London undefeated. True, the problems are piling up for them: Zaheer's participation at Trent Bridge is less than certain, the dashing Virender Sehwag is not expected to be available until Edgbaston following shoulder surgery, Gautam Gambhir has joined the crocked list and captain MS Dhoni could be suspended at any time because of his team's regularly slow over-rate.

But, even so, England will expect their opponents to be faster out of the blocks, and to run a consistently more competitive race, once the action resumes in Nottingham on Friday.

There was a time yesterday, before lunch, when it looked as though India had suddenly realised this series was under way and they ought to begin playing like the world's No 1 Test team. Fast bowler Ishant Sharma and spinner Harbhajan Singh awoke from their earlier slumbers and five England wickets fell in the space of 17 overs.

England have had these opponents in trouble on more than one occasion in the recent past without being able to finish them off. Indeed, during the last series between the two countries – nearly three years ago – they must have reckoned that a draw was the worst possible outcome after setting a victory target of nearly 400 in Chennai.

Instead, India romped to success with six wickets to spare, having been put on their merry way by a sparkling innings of 83 from Sehwag and then taken over the finishing line by a Sachin Tendulkar century.

For England, there is no time like the present to put their noses in front.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower