India declare at 298-8, setting England 272 to win or 60 overs to survive for the draw!
110th over: India 298-8 (Shami 56, Bumrah 34) It’s looking a bit grimy out there and England’s body language suggests a team waiting for the next thing to happen. Shami then takes a break to mess with his thigh pad and nothing happens, before two men rush out with options for him; it’s all very sedate, so much so that Kohli shpritzes himself with what looks like aftershave; can’t play fresh if you don’t smell fresh, which probably explains some of the worst excesses of the OBO. Eventually, though, Anderson is allowed to run in, and though Shami doesn’t middle an attempted heave, he then edges four, and Kohli has seen enough! No ton for Shami, but 271 run to bowl at.
109th over: India 294-8 (Shami 52, Bumrah 34) By opting not to declare over lunch, India robbed themselves of the three overs that’ll be lost to the changeover; the tide is turning back to England! And Robinson starts well, beating Bumrah first and second up, then nips one back into the pad … and watches it rush away for four leg byes. It never rains, but it’s not going to pour, which is what England need at this point, all the more so when an Anderson misfield gives Bumrah four more. On the balcony, Kohli is getting ready to field, but he doesn’t call them in and the lead is now 267.
“Whenever I see Ishant Sharma batting,” says Dan Almond, “I feel compelled to sing his name to the tune of John Lennon’s Instant Karma.”
“I see a lot of hand wringing from the home fans on the OBO,” notes Fahd Masood. “But if our tail can score these runs the pitch surely isn’t that difficult to bat on. As much as it pains me to say it, Joe Root has got this in the bag.”
I know what you mean, but I also know sport rarely works like that. England will be under pressure while India will be on one, and their bowlers will trot out in a pretty decent mood. Of course, England have the batsmen to chase whatever the target ends up being, but nothing about the mental state of the teams, never mind the technical level, suggests that as a likely outcome.
“I can’t work out whether the demoralising preparation England are currently putting themselves through, having allowed a 9 and a 10 to build a 50 partnership on day 5, or Australia’s baffling intention to go essentially an entire year without Test cricket, puts either team in a decent position for the Ashes,” wonders G. “I don’t know which is worse, quite frankly.”
Happily for us, we’ve no need to choose because we can enjoy both!
“Appalling Cricket,” begins Niall McClure tentatively. “Not sure I have witnessed such brainless cricket in a very long time. Staggering.”
I do think Root got it wrong this morning, but I think we can understand why he took off Anderson after three overs – it worked, after all – but his error was how long he took to correct things when they went wrong. It’s a funny thing really, because my principal gripe with Root’s captaincy has always been the effect on his batting – leading from the front is more important than anything else, by far – but he didn’t smell the game well this morning. Can he redeem one with t’other?
Bumrah and Shami both scored ducks in the first innings, and their performance this morning says loads about the kind of competitors they are, but just as much about the kind of mentality and spirit Virat Kohli has created. You can see it from the doughty, brave manner of their batting, but also from the team spirit that sees the captain animated on the balcony backing his boys. Join me again in about half an hour, and we’ll do some emails before opening our support group for those struggling to process the hilarity of England’s collapse.
108th over: India 286-8 (Shami 52, Bumrah 30) Moeen tries a quicker one and Bumrah makes sure to get bat on it, poking wide of Root at slip for one – the only run from the over. So he and Shami trot off to the adulation from the crowd – there’s a pleasingly vocal India contingent – and their team lead by 259, which makes them hot favourites to go one up in the series.
107th over: India 285-8 (Shami 52, Bumrah 29) Joe Root looks pretty peaky now, and I doubt one of Lord’s fabled luncheons will help him feel better. He’s made mistakes this morning, crucial ones, and though we don’t now that bringing Anderson back sooner and asking Wood to attack the stumps would’ve helped, we do know that the alternative has been disastrous. Anyhow, two come from this latest Anderson over, and there’ll be one more before the break.
“I suggest that England open with Moeen Ali and Haseeb Hameed,” emails Mark Slater, “with Jos Buttler at first wicket down, Joe Root and YJB to follow and then Sibley and Burns if needed to save the game. Go for the win with two players absolutely burning to fix themselves into the starting XI. I doubt it, though…”
Yes, I think we’ve got two hopes of seeing this: no hope and Bob Hope.
106th over: India 283-8 (Shami 51, Bumrah 28) The lead was 167 when Wood got Pant and England looked warm favourites. Whether they were so affronted by Bumrah bouncing Anderson on Friday that they had to go after him in the same way, only they know, but it was when he came in that they lost control of things and HAVE AN ABSOLUTE LOOK! Shami wallops Moeen over cow corner for a one-bounce four … then rattles him for a six over midwicket that takes him to a sensational and probably decisive 50!, his second in Tests and first for seven years! This is magnificent behaviour, and when he goes again but doesn’t get enough of it, the ball soars then plummets shy of Anderson! The lead is 256 and this, my friends, is o-v-e-r.
105th over: India 271-8 (Shami 40, Bumrah 27) In commentary, Mel Jones wonders if Kohli will want to tempt England or bat them out of it; I wonder if India have already done the latter, given the rate they’ll need is already above the one they eschewed against New Zealand. In general, though, and especially against a line-up in such shaky form, I’d say that asking them to defend with no prospect is victory works well because the pressure is so intense – they don’t just have to negotiate the good balls but the bad ones which, if they’re pursuing a target, they’ve no excuse not to go at. One off the over, Bumrah gloving an Anderson bouncer, and again the umpire has to intercede with Anderson and Root going at him.
104th over: India 270-8 (Shami 40, Bumrah 26) At what point do India declare? Shami, who’s having a time out there, shmices Moeen over his head for four – befuddled by flight and turn he is not – then after a single, Bumrah edges wide of slip and they run two. A further single follows, and with 68 overs remaining, England are targeting 46-6 off 60.
“This is an absolute fairytale from Shami and Bumrah!” exclaims Ayan Chakrabarti. “It will perhaps break any time now, but this is already echoing Sydney once more, to our eternal delight of course.”
This is not an especially bold comment, but in a crowded field I’d say that Australia-India series was the best of the lockdown sport.
103rd over: India 262-8 (Shami 35, Bumrah 23) This is funny now, Shami taking one then Bumrah trying a hook and wearing one on the helmet instead, so he skips two then calls for the physio, a knowing grin creeping across his phizog as Anderson waits to go again, slapping his thigh and sharing a good old belly-laugh with his revered foe.
“This is brainless,” says Felix Wood. “We have England’s greatest-ever bowler. A new ball. Two absolute rabbits at the crease. And Root’s trying to buy wickets with Sam Curran and Moeen, having failed to bounce the tail out. Now the field is set for Steve Smith. For literal f’s sake.”
I get why he took Anderson off early – he wanted to persist with Robinson while using Wood’s pace, and it worked – but I’ve not a clue why it took so long for him to be brought back.
102nd over: India 259-8 (Shami 34, Bumrah 23) Moeen returns at the Nursery End – that makes sense, offering him the slope to help induce an outside edge – and Bumrah edges his second delivery … but Root misses it low down! It might just’ve died in front of him, but he was close enough to get forward to it, and the look on his coupon tells us it was a chance. A further singles raises the fifty partnership, and India are strong favourites now! The lead is 232.
101st over: India 257-8 (Shami 33, Bumrah 22) Yup, here’s Jimmy, and Bumrah inside-edges right to where short leg isn’t and they run one, then Shami’s beaten with a beauty before clipping over midwicket Bairstow’s leap can’t quite intercept – for four! On the balcony, Kohli is absolutely loving it – this is his spirit we’re seeing, inculcated into his players over years – and another clip again clears Bairstow, taking the lead to 230. This is brilliant from the batsmen.
100th over: India 250-8 (Shami 27, Bumrah 21) England, desperate for a wicket, have Curran and Moeen in tandem – I didn’t expect that this morning, and I imagine we’ll see Anderson again soon; we should be seeing him now. Wood, though, is off and stretching again, while Curran dons his angry face then scurries through another over. He does beat Shami outside off, but a single comes next and when Bumrah strikes then holds the pose, presenting the full face, it takes his partner to remind him there’s a single out there for him. They’re enjoying this, and rightly so – it’s been a brilliant effort.
99th over: India 248-8 (Shami 26, Bumrah 20) Oooh yeah! Moeen gives one some air and Shami doesn’t need asking twice, chucking hands through an extra-cover drive that earns him four more – it’s a lovely shot. A single follows, increasing the lead to 221 – I reckon 220 made this a 50/50 match – so England are in big trouble.
98th over: India 243-8 (Shami 21, Bumrah 20) Somehow, Curran gets one to leap, problem being it allows Bumrah to top-edge him for four! Two singles follow, and this is brilliant from the two batsmen.
“Greetings from Paris,” says Robert Wilson. “Already in this series there’s been a lot of whining and sledging from us punters about the lack of talent on display, or the semi-permanent troughs of poor form that bedevil both sides. It’s to be expected, a hardy constant of being a cricket fan but am I wrong in thinking that it is the very weaknesses of each of these teams, the glitches in the mechanism that are making for such a good match-up? The 80s West Indians, the 90s (and after) Australians, and a whole clutch of Lionel Messis and Roger Federers have accustomed us to some grotesque historic outlier laying waste to an entire generation of honest strivers. As though actual sport was a PC game with its own cheat game-editor. But life’s not meant to be a Marvel film. It’s more fun when it’s mere human beings, all limits and rueful realism, succeeding and failing by creditably and satisfyingly small margins.”
Yup, dominant champions have their good and bad aspects, and you definitely don’t need elite sport to enjoy watching sport. There is something about watching the two best teams or two great teams in a struggle – the most intense sport I’ve seen live over the last 15 or so years was probably the South Africa tour in 2012 – but styles do make fights and this is a goodun.
97th over: India 237-8 (Shami 20, Bumrah 15) Moeen replaces Wood at the Pavilion End and Shami bunts two to cover, then edges two more wide of slip. The partnership is now 28, the lead 210, and at some point not too far away the number of overs left in the day will become a factor – though of course Sibley might blaze that into inconsequence in a barrage of forward defensives.
“I think England might avoid bowling bouncers at India’s tail,” emails Kaustubh Mone, “to eliminate the possibility of Ashwin coming in as a concussion substitute.”
Oh gosh, someone’s going to try that at some point aren’t they?
96th over: India 233-8 (Shami 16, Bumrah 15) It’s been a funny Test this, almost sub-continental – slow for a lot of the time before speeding up unexpectedly, and are we in the midst of its definitive acceleration? Root introduces Curran to the attack, which suggests the short-pitched tactic has been binned, and his first over goes for a two and two ones. The lead is now 206, and this Test is slipping away from England.
“Stepped out of the bunker for a moment to see what is going on,” emails Charles Sheldrick. “Seems to me that India are more than happy and in pole position at the moment. With every run and every over that goes by they make it less and less likely that England will win. If they can stay out there until lunch then England will need 240 or so in less than 60 overs. The fragile nature of our batting makes a chase almost impossible. Remember the NZ Test, we chose not to lose than try to win.”
Yup, I’m not sure England will be so blasé again and perhaps it might suit Bairstow to have a red-ball field but with a white-ball target.
95th over: India 229-8 (Shami 13, Bumrah 14) Shami nabs yet another single, and when Bumrah pulls for one more to raise the 200 lead, we again see Kohli rabble-rousing on the balcony. Two more singles follow, the second when Bumrah hits the stumps again, and surely it’s time for Anderson to have a go at him.
“I’m tempering the nervous tension at Lords with the ECB stream of Essex’s first innings at Sophia Gardens in Royal London Cup semi,” emails Brian Withington. “Cricket is the ideal game for watching two matches simultaneously, actually, despite offending my puritan brother’s sensibilities. Cook’s going along nicely at the moment alongside the very promising Rymell. Just wondering how much Joe Root would like to have him in at Lords for the nerve-shredding chase to come?”
Not that long ago, England’s batting line-up was Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Collingwood, Prior, Bresnan, Swann, Broad, Anderson. I’m beginning to think that was quite good.
94th over: India 225-8 (Shami 11, Bumrah 12) Strauss suggests that when bowling at tailenders it sometimes pays to deploy a slightly straighter line to bring in all three stumps. But in the meantime, four singles come from this latest Robinson over, and England need to have a think.
“Why are England giving verbals to Bumrah?” asks Gary Naylor. “They have 90mph bowler but they’re now bowling at the man and not the stumps. And they’ve riled up the opposition’s main man for the fourth innings. ‘Watch the windows Jasprit!’ a much wiser tactic.”
I assume they’re giving the verbals because how can they not? That said, I give them to my wife and daughter when playing Monopoly so might be a bad person to ask. Other hand, they are bowling short too often, so some full, straight balls to accompany the patter would probably be a good idea.
93rd over: India 222-8 (Shami 9, Bumrah 11) Strauss reckons England need to bring the stumps into play and I wonder if England have been swayed by Bumrah bouncing Anderson. Either way, yerman edges a single, then sends Shami back when he wants to pinch another – a wise decision. The lead is 194.
“This is what it’s all about isn’t it?” asks Guy Hornsby. “Pant charging Jimmy then perishing, a tail that could go for 12 or 70. Woody looking on. After all that, an England batting lineup that could stride home or lose by 100. My god, what a beautiful, maddening, joyful game this is.”
Absolutely. I’ve not a clue what’s going to happen here, nor have I a clue which side will be happier with what we’ve seen so far today. I’m leaning towards India myself.
93rd over: India 220-8 (Shami 9, Bumrah 9) Bumrah cuts hard and Wood’s first ball hares away for four; on the India balcony, Kohli leads the applause to show Bumrah he’s not alone out there. Two dots follow, then Bumrah wears one on the helmet, declines the easy single available, and out comes the physio; the umpires decide this is a good opportunity to take a drink, but the players are at the “We’ve all had a few” stage already; the “hold me back, hold me back”s are imminent.
We’ve had various requests for the TMS overseas link, which is actually right there these days, on the BBC page. But here it is:
92nd over: India 216-8 (Shami 9, Bumrah 5) This is a very game effort from India’s tail and the squirted singles are adding up. Bumrah is playing at everything and hooks a bouncer for a single, then after an edge drops safe, Shami cuts for one more. So Bumrah, who’s been rehearsing a straight drive, tries to deploy it and misses by miles, goes again, and this time hits the stumps at the non-striker’s. This is so tense – remember Bumrah bombarded Anderson on Saturday evening – and you can feel the needle in the middle seeping through the screen. Words are exchanged, Michael Gough gets involved to calm it down, and this is lovely stuff.
91st over: India 213-8 (Shami 8, Bumrah 3) Wood is bowling quick and Burah misses with a hook then edges fresh air with a huge swipe – that second delivery was 94mph. So Wood goes short again and again Bumrah swings, missing with the bat but connecting with the forear, Anderson on hand behind the cordon fine enough to save the boundary; they run one. This is terrific stuff from Wood, who’s charging in like an absolute thug, and it’s getting lively in the middle as he sears another heat-seeker past Shami’s edge. This isn’t just pace, it’s pace with a plan, and it’s beautiful to watch.
“Having never been to lords, but being a big fan of cricket,” emails Josh Hughes, “I’d love to know what you mean by ‘rows of glorious food’. Is there a food market on the back row, or something?”
Yes, behind the Compton and Edrich Stands there are vans selling brisket, duck wraps, Mr Whippy’s and the like, all of them better than anything cold bought in a supermarket.
90th over: India 211-8 (Shami 7, Bumrah 2) Another slower one from Robinson, who’s bowled well this morning, and Bumrah unloads the suitcase to add two over mid on. Then he goes again, Bumrah swings again, and because so much pace was off the ball, the ensuing edge drops just shy of Buttler.
“This match is India’s to lose now,” reckons V Krishnamoorthy. “Bumrah has all the right conditions to exploit:
1. An achievable target
2. Anxious batsmen
3. Punishing length
4. Rarely straying out of line.”
All of this is true, but one decent partnership and the total is very chaseable.
Sharma is halfway off when the call comes, but his 16 runs might just make the difference when England bat.
WICKET! Sharma lbw Robinson 16 (India 209-8)
This is full, straight and slower, far too good for Ishant, who misses with his attempted flick while stepping across his stumps, and that’s an insult to an umpire of Michael Gough’s calibre.
89th over: India 207-7 (Ishant 15, Shami 6) Wood does indeed replace and Anderson and looks ok, flinging down a nasty boomp-ah at which Shami fends on the leap. England want a catch in the slips, but the umpire says no and they don’t review; a replay shows it was shoulder, though the ball was close to the glove. His fifth delivery is then bumped back to him and he dives to field, right on his shoulder – eeek! – then completes a maiden.
88th over: India 207-7 (Ishant 15, Shami 6) Now Shami has a shy, banging down his front foot to carve four through point – do England set the field back and assume their lines will keep the score under control pending a good ball or an error, or do they get around the bat and force things? On the boundary, Wood warms up, a good sign for them, but in the meantime three singles follow which take the lead to 180 and Wood is back on the pitch with the ball in his hand. I dare say some light teeth music is en route.
87th over: India 200-7 (Ishant 14, Shami 0) Ishant has a hoik over slip and the ball rockets over slip for four, to Anderson’s intense mirth. Wth the lead at 171, England won’t want too many more of those – 220 seems the kind of score that’d make this a 50-50 match – and Bairstow has moved from slip to fly slip to defend the premeditated edge. Then, after four dots, Anderson goes for the toes and somehow Ishant squeezes out a two – India are doing ok here.
86th over: India 194-7 (Ishant 8, Shami 0) In co-commentary, Dinest Karthik reckons that in England, you can’t just play correctly and hope that’ll be enough because the late movement off the seam means you might need to adjust late doors. That’s what happened to Pant, and you’d fancy that India’s tail will encounter similar tzoros.
WICKET! Pant c Buttler b Robinson 22 (India 197-7)
Colossal! Robinson is so reliable with his discipline and he yanks Pant forward who plays very straight. But the ball does just enough off the seam, leaving him, caressing the full face, and shooting behind!
85th over: India 192-6 (Pant 20, Ishant 8) There was a touch of Andy Flower’s England about yesterday afternoon, bowling dry enough to stay in the game with the ball and pitch offering no help but excuse me while I interrupt myself, after three dots Pant makes room by backing away to leg while springing out of his crease, cleansing Anderson for four through cover. Ridiculous behaviour, yet typical behaviour. A leg bye follows, then Sharma slices a, er, square drive that also runs away to the fence, and the lead is not 165.
84th over: India 183-6 (Pant 16, Ishant 4) Robinson, like Anderson, is bereft of wickets in this innings, but has been given just 10 overs – this is his chance to affect things, and he’ll know it. In the meantime we cut to Wood, showing off his pecs and swinging his strapped shoulder through a stretch, which doesn’t look good. Anyhow, after four dots Robinson has one leave Pant up the hill and he misses his second defensive push of the morning then, after a single, Sharma fends off a lift-uh that drops clear of short leg.
“Ooo, don’t you just love Test cricket,” emails Bill Hargreaves. “So many variables, so many holes in the dyke to plug, so many opportunities to attempt to exploit. It’s like playing chess, bridge, and the trombone at the same time. Have a little part of my mind dedicated to those Afghanistan teams that showed up at the international events. Fingers crossed for them all.”
Agreed on all counts.
83rd over: India 182-6 (Pant 15, Ishant 4) England have gone for an in-out field, two slips and a gully then men looking for the heave, and after two dots Anderson persuades one to leave Pant as he looks to defend, seam position absolutely fit as. But Pant then gets himself down the other end with an off-side shove and Ishant sees out the remaining two deliveries, just about.
“With Pant at the crease, it just dials up the excitement to 11,” reckons Séin Healy. “I feel he could come out to bat on a motorcycle and nobody would bat an eyelid, just look on appreciatively.”
And rightly so.
The players are with us and Jimmy Anderson has the ball; Crawley is fielding, so presumably Wood is not…
Public service announcement: I’ve been going to Lord’s with the same group of friends for decades, and part of our routine involves, on day one at least, visiting Waitrose John Barnes next to Finchley Road tube and running around buying everything to complete the fabled and legendary cricket picnic. Well, on Thursday I reached into the cool bag and realised that I didn’t want to eat whatever I was pulling out because it was cold, and just behind me were rows and rows of tremendous hot food. Of course, the existence of a banquet at one’s feet is a fine feeling, but I’m afraid we’ve reached the point at which it is no longer the best way of performing the necessary gluttony. Thoughts and prayers with you all at this sad moment – but please do point out why I’m wrong and what I’ve failed to consider.
“The thrilling anticipation I’m feeling going into this fifth day decider of a fabulous turnaround Test match,” says Dean Kinsella, “is tempered only by the thought that this Indian tail will not last 5 minutes against the GOAT with a new ball in his hand. I would love Woody to get onto the Lord’s honours board but I feel it will be Jimmy’s morning. His first-innings efforts showed what marvellous form he is in and the barrage of bouncers he withstood while batting won’t have put him in the most charitable of moods.”
Yes, he was excellent once he switched from Nursery to Pavilion End, and we can usually be sure that Robinson won’t go for many. But even three big overs, whenever they come and however they arrive, could make a difference so even brilliant bowling might not be enough.
Oh man, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone talk about grief more movingly and with greater clarity than Andrew Strauss, and Sky have just shown us VT of him and others promoting the Ruth Strauss Foundation – which offers support to kids whose parents have terminal illnesses. Now, Mark Chapman – who lost his wife just over a year ago – is with him, and I’m gone. Text TWENTY to 70600 to support them with a score.
Email! “Morning Daniel, morning everyone,” begins Jonathan McCauley-Oliver. “While today should be great fun there was a cracking match at Sabina Park which finished with West Indies beating Pakistan by one wicket, putting on 17 for the last wicket. However, there were eight ducks in the match, three of them being first-ballers. Add to that the five we have had in this match so far, two of them being first-ballers and you have to ask yourself; what’s going on? And these stats are not boosted by tail-enders, the majority have been top six batsmen.”
It’s also worth noting that, while there are some great bowlers around, we’re not quite in our 90s heyday of Ambrose, Warne, Murali, Walsh, Pollock, McGrath, Donald and the rest. We can’t draw conclusions at this point, but the rise of T20 and its accordant impact on the 50-over game looks to be the most significant factor. Batsmen train their brain to do one thing, then expect it to slip back into another when they tell it to, and that’s not far off impossible.
And what on earth is happening when England bat? I was going to write more words after this, but what on earth could I say?
Yeah, Athers and Wardy also thought that interview sounded grim, though note that the new pellet, due immediately, will go to Anderson and Robinson so perhaps he won’t be required. Thing is, as soon as the shine is off it, England will need that bit of extra pace, and it was Wood who got Pant in the first innings too.
The weather in north London is overcast, and Mark Wood’s mood isn’t far off – not a sentence anyone supposed to wrote. His shoulder, hurt on the dive yesterday – he heard a crack – is sore this morning and he’s not sure whether or not he’ll bowl though hopes a “doctor’s remedy” sorts him out. Though he’s generally been better overseas than at home, he was the pick of England’s attack yesterday and I daresay he’ll be eyeing a spot on the honours book every bit as much as India’s tail are relishing his injury.
So what’s going to happen here? I’d make England very slight favourites, because if they bowl well this morning even a poor batting performance will get them over the line. But on the other hand, even if they do, if Pant bats well then everything changes or, put another way … wait for it … here it comes … wooooooooooh …. the first hour is crucial.
Our relationship with cricket has changed over the last 18 months, the game taken away from us then restored in stages which highlight its different aspects. And though we didn’t need a pandemic to remind us that we love it, our relationship to it is refreshed nonetheless: first, the return of competition gave us the simple joy of bat and ball. But the return of crowds has reminded us that it’s ours.
Last afternoon, there was nothing of anything going on, ball and pitch benign but Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane struggling to score. As such, it looked like neither side would be good enough to force a result, but the Lord’s crowd – the Lord’s crowd! – weren’t having it. Out of nowhere, they generated enough of an atmosphere to raise things in the middle and Mark Wood charged in even faster, finding spiteful line, length and lift to revive a match that was slowly expiring.
So here we are at the start of day five with all three results possible, Rishabh Pant at the crease, and thousands of revellers pouring in for some bonus beauty. This is going be excellent.
Play: 11am BST