After the rain hit first day, the game has almost turned towards an expected draw. On a complete sunny second day Pietersen scored a double century to take England to a challenging total to enforce a positive result.
The three sessions
In the first and second session England sailed against some good but ineffective bowling, in terms of wickets, by Indian bowlers. Zaheer did not join the team on field to England’s delight. Rest of the Indian bowlers were so sluggish that Dhoni had to handover his wicketkeeping gloves and bowl 8 overs which were better than other part timer Raina and better in average than India’s best spinner Harbhajan Singh.
England, in the meantime scored at a run rate of 3.60 per over to finally declare at 474/8 as soon as Pietersen completed his third double century. Trott with 70 and Matt Prior with 71 played good spoilsport for India in the company of Pietersen. India played 11 anxious overs to return to bed without losing a wicket.
Pietersen scored his second century at Lord’s against India. His 17th century turned into his third double century. His innings was the perfect example of how to play in English condition. Starting with caution he bid his time to let the ball stop troubling and then scored with a faster run rate jumping out of the crease using his left-hand shots. In the end his unbeaten 202 marked the difference between the two teams and took England to a safe total of 474/8.
Praveen Kumar’s 5-wkt haul
Praveen Kumar grabbed his first test 5-wicket haul, and in fact his first international 5-wicket haul at Lord’s. In the absence of Zaheer Khan, India needed him, Ishant and Harbhajan to fire up. But, Harbhajan failed again to justify his position as India’s leading bowler. Ishant looked like going into his relaxed mode after a good series again. Remember he did the same for many series after raising expectation in the Australian series. Praveen Kumar stepped in to get India back in the game. Although his effort of 5/106 did not prove much of a deterrence for the determined Pietersen.
Before this Praveen’s best in his 6 innings of 3 tests in West Indies was 3/38. Remember he made his test debut in West Indies only. Even in ODI in 51 innings of 52 matches his best performance is 4/31, while in 5 innings of T20 2/14 is his best.
Suprise of the Day
Dhoni decided to hang-off his gloves and bowled as the fifth bowler of India, ahead of Raina. It was ironical though, although he almost got Pietersen out. The pathetic bowling of Ishant and Harbhajan and not so successful stint of Praveen Kumar till then probably made him thought of fulfilling his dream of bowling at the Mecca of Cricket and probably get into history books of Lord’s too by taking a wicket. Can someone tell him if he wins the test as captain and batsmen that would fetch him a better place in history of England and of course, India.
Fate of Match
With England’s imposing total and Zaheer’s absence, match is certainly in English control. First task for India would be to avoid follow on. At least while playing their second innings, as they are almost certain to be bowled out, due to their complicated approach to first tests of any series, they would know whether to try for a draw or to chase the target, if England has to bat second innings before theirs. Dravid, Laxman and Dhoni may play a crucial role in batting to decide India’s fate in the match.