Heading into the second day, India were on top. However, funny things can happen in cricket and within a session, India lost four wickets. Though they scored 70 runs in the first session, it can be deemed as a collapse. The main reason being, the conditions were tailor-made for scoring runs. KL Rahul added only two runs to his overnight score before Ollie Robinson bagged him on the second ball of the day. The XO followed his CO’s steps as Ajinkya Rahane departed on the first ball he faced after he poked one from James Anderson. Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant somewhat halted a demoralizing collapse by adding 49 runs for the sixth wicket. Jadeja strangled at one end with tail-enders, fought his way through but, could only add 33 runs after Pant’s exit.
India had lost their last eight wickets for 97 runs and the main devastator was the King of Lord’s, Anderson. He bagged his 31st five-for in Tests, seventh at Lord’s and fifth against India, out of which four had come at this venue.
In reply, England’s top order was once again exposed and the skipper Root was early in action. Mohammed Siraj was the cause of the first two early processions as he bagged both in back-to-back deliveries. Young Haseeb Hameed’s return was a horrific one as he suffered a golden duck in his first Test innings after more than four years.
A STRONG ROOT TO ROOT OUT
As has been the case against every opponent this year, Root has been leading from the front. If not for his knock in the second innings at Trent Bridge, India might have emerged victorious even with the washed-out day. He will be the biggest threat for India on day three. If it was the Root from earlier times, a stumble after his fifty would have been around the corner because of his poor conversion ratio. In Tests from 2017 till 2020, Root had scored only six centuries in 79 innings with 22 fifties, a conversion rate of 21.4%. Whereas, in 2021, Root has converted four out of his five fifties into a 100. This year, he has a mind-boggling conversion rate of 80%. This could be trouble for India and he would certainly be the one standing between their dominance.
But, there is a catch. A lone alpha followed by a stricken pack is defenceless against brimming predators. Apart from Root, none of the other batsmen have shown consistency. Root alone has scored over 1000 runs this year and the next best hasn’t even touched half of what Root has scored. To emphasise further, Root had scored 1064 before the start of this match at an average of 59.1 and a balls/dismissal ratio of 103.2. On the other hand, the current squad’s top seven batsmen combined have scored 1847 runs at an average of 22.5 and a balls/dismissal ratio of 51.9.
Regardless of that, Indian bowlers could be in for long spells as there are hardly any demons in the pitch. Jadeja could be in action more on day three. But, the left-arm spinner has to be way too patient for something to happen. In the last three tours at Lord’s Indian spinners have bagged only six wickets at an average of 88 and strike rate of 154.8. Let alone for Indians, in the last three years, spinners have had almost nothing to their name (124 against 10).
But, it is always difficult to start again after an overnight break. Through a start similar to the one on the second day for bowlers, India will eye quick wickets and most of all, the skipper Root’s wicket. Another full day of play is expected without any rain interruptions. As the cliché goes, day three could be the moving day. If India break early, they stand a real chance of getting 1-0 up. But, if Root and England bat out the day or even two sessions, then the pendulum can rest either side.