Third evening of the Lord’s Test. India have managed to knock down nine England batters after being sent on a leather hunt through the day by Joe Root who is still batting like a dream. James Anderson has joined his captain but the tourists know the end of England innings is just a delivery away.
Bumrah has been wicketless. He is eager to add finish the innings with at least a wicket. Root or Anderson? Doesn’t matter.
The Indian unleashes a bouncer barrage towards England’s No. 11. In the process, he oversteps four times in one over. Anderson is bowled on his 16th delivery faced but not by Bumrah. As the players walked off, an animated discussion followed, involving Bumrah and Anderson. It was easy to guess what it was about and what the Englishman appeared a little miffed.
The exchange was the just a trailer to the epic picture that would unfold across the final two days of at Lord’s.
Bumrah breaks the unwritten code
You don’t bowl bouncer to the tail-enders. It’s not a rule. It’s not advised. It’s not mandatory. Heck, it’s not even against the spirit of the game. But it’s a mutual understanding. But if you do that, it’s totally legitimate. India having conceded the first innings lead to England, largely due to Root’s masterclass of an innings, were eager to get rid of their tail. And they succeeded despite being frustrated by Root earlier. Bumrah intimidated Anderson with a series of short deliveries – the first of which hit him on the helmet, and resulted in a check for concussion – a sight which has become quite common now.
Despite the helmet blow, Bumrah didn’t relent. He continued with the body blows upon resumption. Mohammed Shami befitted from his teammates’ tactics as he cleaned up the England veteran. England’s first innings came to an end.
Neither Anderson nor Root looked pleased as they were going back to the dressing room with the day’s play coming to an end with the final wicket. Anderson engaged in a lively discussion with Bumrah. A revenge was brewing.
England lose the plot
Having knocked over India’s top-three batters cheaply, the hosts made a stunning start to the penultimate day. It took a blockathon from India’s middle-order pair of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to thwart fiery English attack which landed some late blows to leave the contest wide open late into the day. But it all changed with the arrival of Bumrah.
The Englishman seemed to be irked by what Bumrah did to their veteran pacer. And expectedly, Mark Wood unleased bouncer-barrage. Words were exchanged. With Wood. With Buttler. With Root himself. Bumrah didn’t back out. He responded. Umpires had to get involved.
Bumrah slapped a four. Kohli stood up in the Lord’s balcony and clapped, uttering choicest words in Hindi. He wasn’t on the field but somehow managed to get himself involved into the psychological warfare.
With Shami, who scored a half-century, Bumrah stitched an unbeaten stand of 89 runs for the ninth wicket. England wasted their energies on Bumrah and India capitalized. The Test from thereon turned on its head.
And let’s not forget how Bumrah asked Haseeb Hameed to help him tie his shoe and Shami pulled down his trousers forcing an unnecessary delay while waiting for the arrival of a new thighpad. To a casual eye, these seem innocent events but to a trained one, the message and intent behind was loud and clear.
With nearly two sessions of play left in the 2nd Test, Kohli declared India’s innings. England were left to chase 272 runs. India needed 10 wickets. Obviously, with the conditions, the hosts weren’t going to look for runs and play for draw.
From the very first ball of the innings, delivered by Bumrah, Indian players surrounded English players. Now their turn to react on what England did to their star bowler. Almost everybody got an earful. Result? For the first time at Lord’s both England openers failed to score.
Kohli was leading the charge. He was vocal. Very vocal. He celebrated each wicket wildly. He gave incoming England batters a reception. He teased Buttler and Moeen Ali with ‘not white-ball cricket’ remark.
Indian pacers continued to strike, steadily tilting the balance in their favour. In walks Ollie Robinson. And Mohammed Siraj pings him on his chest with a vicious short pitched delivery. And he’s not done yet. A death-stare followed.
Robinson had something to say to every India batter earlier in the contest. India were balancing the ledger.
They could have easily avoided the confrontations had they learnt anything from how India reacted to sledging on Australia tour earlier this year. Tim Paine would have happily told them about it.
India outclassed England with skills and words.