2nd Test: Siraj takes two but Root gives England hope | Cricket

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After being left to rue the middle-order’s inability to build on their openers’ fine work, India struck thrice in the final session of the second day to somewhat make up for their slack batting effort on the second morning of the second Test at Lord’s on Friday. The peerless James Anderson was again England’s standout bowler with a five-wicket haul to restrict India to 364 all out. For India, Mohammed Siraj made early inroads with two wickets in two balls and Mohammed Shami provided an important breakthrough late in the day. However, worryingly for the visitors, the in-form England captain Joe Root was sailing along smoothly at the crease, batting on 48 as England ended the day on 119/3, trailing by 245 runs. 

After the England openers’ dour batting in the first 14 overs, things started to happen in the post-tea session for India. Sibley gifted his wicket again by chipping a length ball on the pads in the air to the waiting short midwicket – a replay of his Trent Bridge dismissal. The experiment with Haseeb Hameed also failed as the hosts’ top-order woes continued. Making a comeback after being out of the team for nearly five years, Hameed missed a straight half-volley from Siraj, playing inside the line of the ball. Siraj was the most impressive of the Indian bowlers. All charged up, he kept troubling the in-form Root, rapping him on the pads a few times with sharp incoming balls. Captain Virat Kohli’s only complaint will be of two wasted reviews, both of Root, on the bowler’s insistence to go for it. By the 23rd over, India were left with only one review. 

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Siraj’s aggressive mood was no surprise. If any pace bowler playing in the game needed inspiration, it was right in front of them at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in the form of the legendary Anderson. After showing his mastery with the old ball on the opening day, the England spearhead was absolutely brilliant with the second new ball on Friday to pick another five-wicket haul (29-7-62-5). It was his 31st fifer, second most among fast bowlers after Sir Richard Hadlee who has 35, and his seventh at Lord’s, taking his tally at the historic ground to 110. He had started his journey at Lord’s in 2003 with a performance of 5/73 against Zimbabwe. More than 18 years later, Anderson is still producing the goods. In the process, he became the oldest pacer in 70 years to pick a fifer in Test cricket, according to ESPNCricinfo. 

Given the quality of Anderson’s bowling, if not for some useful contributions from the lower order, India would have struggled to cross the 350-run mark. That the visitors pushed the total to 364 was thanks to Ravindra Jadeja, who again proved his utility with a knock of 40. The left-handed batsman first added 49 runs with Pant and then 26 runs with Ishant Sharma. Starting the day at 276 for three, India were one decent partnership away from shutting England out of the game. From such a strong platform, successful teams are known to completely bury their opponent under a heap of runs. But the visitors frittered away the advantage within seven balls of start of second days play.

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Opener KL Rahul, who resumed on 127, played a loose drive off Ollie Robinson to offer a simple catch at cover on the second ball of the day. Anderson ensured Ajinkya Rahane also didn’t hurt England by getting him caught at slip with a trademark outswinger. In a masterful display, he picked up two more wickets. It was fitting he completed his five-wicket haul with a perfect outswinger to Jasprit Bumrah, the bowler who is one of the contenders to take over the mantle of fast bowling. 

When Bumrah started the proceedings for India with the new ball, the template was right in front of him. Anderson reaped rewards by bowling in the corridor, pitching 66% in good length, 24 in full length, probing the batsmen constantly. The Indian pacer started well but the early breakthroughs didn’t come. Of his first five-over spell, three were maidens. Ishant wasn’t at his best but Siraj built the pressure with two wickets in two balls.   

England captain Root and opener Rory Burns did well to weather the early storm. The two broke the shackles with a flurry of boundaries, five in six balls, in the 27th and 28th overs. 

Burns broke Siraj’s stranglehold with three fours, an off-drive followed by two pull shots, to take the England total past 50. Root picked two boundaries off Ishant’s next over, forcing Kohli to fall back on Bumrah. He bowled an excellent line but Root was equal to the challenge, helping England raise 100 runs in the 38th over. Mohammad Shami provided India the breakthrough when he nailed Burns in front of the wicket to end the 85-run partnership.

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