At the end of the first day’s play, with just 33 overs bowled, I think I can say with certainty that England have the upper hand in this Test match.
It started before the start of play, when England won the toss and chose to bowl first. With cloudy conditions and showers forecast through the day, it was an easy decision to make. Anderson took quick advantage of the situation, bowling Vijay with a spectacular outswinger. On one hand, it’s a ball which would have got many (perhaps most) batsmen out. On the other hand, the way that the Indian opener got squared up trying to clip the ball on the back foot into the leg side was positively Malan-esque. Not great technique for an opener, or indeed any batsman in English conditions.
What followed was a testing, if short session for the Indian batsmen. Pujara and Rahul hung in there, but only just. Anderson’s bowling constantly tested the outside edge, and Broad was also bowling from the other end. As is almost always the way, England made a breakthrough just before the players went off for the first rain delay of the game. Rahul edged Anderson to the keeper, and two balls later the rain began.
There was a brief respite from the showers after Lunch, which allowed the game to continue for a few overs. Whilst the bowling didn’t manage to threaten the Indian batsmen, the visitors still managed to lose another wicket before rain forced them off yet again. This time it was a mix up between Kohli and Pujara, with both batsmen going for the run before the captain made an abrupt u-turn and left Pujara stranded at the other end.
What followed was the kind of downpour normally associated with large boats and two of every animal. Standing water everywhere, the kind of picture in years past which would have would have had everyone going home and coming back the next day. Instead, the Lord’s drainage system did its near-miraculous job and play was able to resume with Indian needing to survive another 28 overs in the day.
The last session started quite well for the tourists. They managed to fend off Anderson’s first spell, and it wasn’t until Woakes and Curran were bowling that England were able to break the crucial partnership between Kohli and Rahane. Kohli edged a full outswinger from Woakes to Jos Buttler at second slip (who has missed a sharp chance the ball before), and that felt like the end of India’s chances in this game. Woakes got Pandya out the same way two overs later, and Curran bowled Karthik the over after that. Anderson returned to clean up the tail, and Broad finally got a delivery aimed at the stumps to account for Ashwin.
And, as if the day couldn’t have gone any more perfectly for England, they took the last wicket late enough so that Cook and Jennings wouldn’t have to bat until tomorrow. India managed just 107 runs in their first inning, and honestly that flatters them a little. The next two days should be rain-free, and it’s hard to see anything but an England victory. But then I remember that India have picked two spinners and England are fully capable of collapsing hilariously in this situation.
As always, comments about the game (or anything else) below.