Pant nicked Ollie Robinson to Jos Buttler behind the sticks for 22 and the smirk on Virat Kohli’s face on the team balcony showed how worried he was. India still were only 167 ahead and the long tail had been exposed. The new ball was only three overs old.
Ishant Sharma hung around for a while, but was foxed by a slower one off Robinson for a useful 16. The visitors were 182 ahead and when Jasprit Bumrah walked out to join Mohammed Shami, a pair known more for their bowling exploits, the Indian players would have been tempted to change into their whites.
Kohli didn’t. Perhaps he trusted Shami and Bumrah and their long nets sessions along with the other bowlers, during their two-week camp in Durham before the series.
They were helped by the tactics the England bowlers employed too. Instead of getting the batsmen out, they focused on knocking off Bumrah and Shami’s heads instead, because of the chin music that Bumrah had dished out to their bowling talisman James Anderson late on Day 3.
There was some generous lip service rendered too by the England pacers and Buttler and that seemed to distract them from their plans. After some anxious moments and knocks on the helmet, the two new-ball bowlers, perhaps got more determined by all the chat and settled down to script a stirring fightback.
They swished and slogged initially, but soon focused on getting behind the line and played attacking shots only when they felt the ball was in their half.
The field started spreading out, making ones and twos available and with every run added, the smirk on Kohli’s face slowly changed into a smile. He found more company near him and the dressing room found its voice.
Nervous shifts in the balcony chairs changed to excited jumps. Shami square drove Robinson on the up past point, flicked Anderson over midwicket and when Moeen Ali tossed the ball up, he deposited him into the top tier to bring up his second half-century.
Bumrah was more orthodox after an angry slap to point off Wood. The England attack also flagged a bit and after Wood hurt his injured shoulder again and they did not have enough ammunition to blast players out on a flat and slow pitch.
Bumrah and Shami added 89 for the ninth wicket, the highest for that position at Lord’s, beating the 66 between Kapil Dev and Madan Lal in 1982. India’s lower order has contributed the least in terms of runs of all Test teams since 2018. But things seem to be changing.
After the bowlers had contributed a substantial amount of runs with Ravindra Jadeja at Nottingham, Kohli, in his post-match interview, said those runs were like gold dust and a reward for all the hard work they have put in.
“They have been in the nets regularly, wanting to contribute regularly. As opposition, when the bowlers get runs, it can be annoying,” Kohli had said.