Vinoo Mankad was the first Indian to score a test-match century at Lords. Subsequently, Dilip Vengsarkar, Gundappa Vishwanath, Ravi Shastri, Mohd. Azhruddin, Sourav Ganguly, Ajit Agarkar and Rahul Dravid have also had the honor of recording test centuries on this ground. Of all these illustrious cricketers, Vengsarkar is the only overseas player to have done it three times in 1979, 1982 and 1986. Now you have another Indian batsman, who has etched his name in the record books yesterday by scoring a fine and fluent century under trying circumstances. When Ajinkya Rahane was joined by Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 58th over, India had already lost 7 wickets for 145 and Alastair Cook was patting himself on his back for his decision to send India in after winning the toss. With admirable supports from Bhuvi Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami, Rahane’s century took India to 290/9 at the end of the day.
Despite a good show at Trent Bridge, the first day at Lords looked like a wash out, when most batsmen fell to an enormous swing that England bowlers were able to generate. Shikhar Dhawan doesn’t want to come out of the T20 mould and it was a pity to see him fall in the third over of the innings. Anderson brought one delivery with a vicious swing after it pitched on the leg side. Dhawan was left with no option but to play the ball that nicked his edge and flew to the third slip for Gary Balance to take a low catch. Murali Vijay, however, looked in control and unruffled by Dhawan’s loss, he carried on in the company of Cheteshwar Pujara. Earlier, before he could open his account, Vijay got a life, when Matt Prior floored him off a ball from Stuart Broad. Vijay and Pujara put up a second-wicket stand of 37 in 18.3 overs, before Vijay gifted the second catch to Gary Ballance at third slip. It wasn’t a great delivery from Plunkett that Vijay attempted to guide on the leg side but the ball came straight and took the leading edge of Vijay’s bat. Virat Kohli came to the crease and started hitting from the word go. Something is not quite right about Kohli’s form these days. He has ceased to be the focal point of the India innings of late. However, Kohli and Pujara stuck around until lunch time with India’s score of 73/2 that included a 19-ball 20 from Kohli and and 66-ball 10 from Pujara. In the over before lunch, however, Kohli narrowly escaped, when Prior dropped him off Moeen Ali. Kohli had offered a defensive stroke but Ali’s ball grazed his bat and Prior couldn’t cling on to the chance.
After lunch, it was a sad saga of India’s slide into submission. Anderson bowled an angled delivery that moved on the off side and despite Kohli playing a copybook defensive stroke; he couldn’t avoid the touch on the outside of his bat and this time Prior made no mistake. It was at this point that Ajinkya Rahane walked out to join Pujara, who had taken 74 balls to reach 14. The two batsmen kept their heads down and attempted to settle down. But on the score of 113 in the 42nd over, Pujara couldn’t read Ben Stokes as a fuller length ball beat him to shatter his stumps. Captain Dhoni, who came next, lasted 17 balls and scored just 1 run, before he nicked a ball from Broad into Prior’s gloves. At 123/5, India were in serious trouble and the situation worsened, when another two wickets fell cheaply. First Ravindra Jadeja was trapped LBW by Moeen Ali after scoring just 3 runs off 11 balls and then Stuart Binny stood plumb in front to a straighter delivery from James Anderson after scoring 9 off 19 balls. At 145/7, when Rahane was on 28 off 69 balls, Bhuvi Kumar joined him. Kumar is no mean bat, as lot of people would tend to think. Playing in 52 matches for Uttar Pradesh, he has scored almost 2000 runs in first class cricket with an amazing average of 29.45 with a century already on his name. In addition, he showed his batting maturity in both innings of the Nottingham test. With Rahane on one end, Kumar displayed courage and conviction against the heavy swing of the English bowlers. Slowly and surely, the two batsmen went about their task and lifted the gloom from the faces of India supporters present at Lords. The 90-run eighth wicket stand had its weight in gold for India before Kumar was out to a beautiful delivery from Stuart Broad that went through to the stumps. Kumar made 36 off 84 balls with 7 hits to the fence. Rahane carried on the company of Mohammed Shami and scored his century in the 87th over from Anderson. In the same over Rahane couldn’t keep his shot down and Anderson took a great reflex catch low down on his left. With Shami and Ishant Sharma remaining unbeaten until the draw of stumps, 290/9 can be considered as a good recovery.
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