Hooking madness at Lord’s helped gift India victory by 95 run
LORD (TIP): Moeen Ali and Joe Root looked to have eased the pressure on beleaguered skipper Alastair Cook by chalking up a 101-run partnership before lunch. But Moeen Ali fell to the last ball of the morning session and Ishant Sharma then took full advantage by luring Matt Prior, Ben Stokes and Root into all pushing the selfdestruct button in quick succession.
To add insult to injury, England’s defeat was confirmed when James Anderson was run out by Ravindra Jadeja – the player he stands accused of pushing and verbally abusing during the first Test at Trent Bridge. The humiliating collapse means England have lost seven of their last 10 Tests under Cook’s leadership. And if Cook was hoping his batsmen would leap to his defence as his own dire form at the crease continued he was sadly mistaken as hopes of a dramatic fifth day win here quickly evaporated in the muggy conditions.
The manner of England’s latest collapse was all the more infuriating after Ali and Root had taken England to 173-4, just 146 away from the winning target. After a slow start Root was soon into his stride, bringing up his 50 with three fours in an over off Sharma. But after roughing up Root with the first three balls of the final over before lunch, the paceman turned his attention to Ali who finally succumbed as he took his eye off the ball and looped a catch to Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg.
At that stage there was still plenty of room for optimism for England. That was until Prior’s plan to meet fire with fire were spectacularly scuppered as he hooked yet another Sharma bouncer to Vijay Murali at deep midwicket. With Stokes’ form with the bat mirroring that of his skipper it was perhaps unsurprising that thoughts of an unlikely victory soon turned to England being resigned to yet another defeat.
They did the damage once again, as Stokes too hooked the Indian paceman into the deep for his third duck in succession for his country. A superb batting performance had taken Root to 66. But the Yorkshireman became the next Sharma victim. Attempting to attack another short ball, Root could only hook it straight to Stuart Binny at long leg.
Stuart Broad had no answer to a rampant Sharma, gloving to MS Dhoni down the leg side before the misery was completed as Jadeja scored a direct hit on Anderson’s stumps after an ambitious attempt at a single. Just 67 minutes after the lunch break – where an unlikely victory was well within their grasp – England had thrown it away once again. Sharma’s final figures of seven wickets for 74 runs are the best by an India bowler in England. And unless Cook and company can come up with a plan to deal with his short balls by the time they head to the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on July 24 then Cook’s problems will continue to mount.