Sweet Victory at Lord’s : A Fascinating Story

Most importantly, it was India’s first overseas Test victory in 16 Tests, quenching a three-year-old thirst. It was also the first time India won a Test match without any of the big five: Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar…


a-fascinating-storyVictory at Lord’s must have tasted very sweet for this young team.It was the first time since 1986 that they won a Test at this ground, and only their second win in 17 Tests here. Most importantly, it was India’s first overseas Test victory in 16 Tests, quenching a three-year-old thirst. It was also the first time India won a Test match without any of the big five: Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar; the time-period stretching back to 1989 when Tendulkar made his debut. The aforementioned facts bring the transition phase into play at this juncture. It was a painful time for Indian cricket when they couldn’t get anything done right in the Test arena, whether at home or in overseas conditions.
The 2-1 series loss to England at home in 2012-13 was a further embarrassment on 8-0. Perhaps this is where a little bit of perspective is needed. “I don’t believe in comparisons. If you see this team (playing eleven) or the 18-man squad from back then, almost the entire team is now different,” said Dhoni after the 95-run win… Back in 2011, at the first Test at Lord’s, Zaheer Khan got injured after the hosts were 62/2 at one stage and even then were reduced to 270/5 later, before Matt Prior rescued them. At Nottingham in the second Test, the two teams were equally-matched after the first innings before Ian Bell scored 159 runs in the second. And there is no point even talking about the four Tests in Australiabecause there the team never got in such a position to even slightly bother Michael Clarke’s side. In this light, that home series loss to Englandis an important marker. The fact revealed itself to Dhoni that India needed a change-around to get 20 wickets even at home. He deployed five bowlers in that drawn fourth Test at Nagpur. With better personnel in the ensuing home series against Australia, the results were different.
Against teams that are weak against spin, India can still get away with four bowlers at home, like they showed against New Zealand (2011) andWest Indies (2013). But a change was needed abroad, the seventh batsman playing as a safeguard against a top-order collapse needed to go. This realization dawned from the trips to South Africa and New Zealand. The two Test series therein might have been lost, but they were an immense education for a young team.…
In the last six overseas Tests played, India have come close to victory five times. At Nottingham they had England on the ropes before that world-record stand between Joe Root and James Anderson saved the day. This bowling attack without a clear leader bowled better on a flat track than the hosts’ led by the much-more experienced Anderson and Stuart Broad. They just couldn’t close their advantage down, just like inSouth Africa and New Zealand. This is where Dhoni left his mark at Lord’s. The trap he set for the lower-order batsmen in the second innings worked. When Prior holed out in the deep to a short ball from Ishant, the jump of joy from Dhoni was unmistakable. “It was difficult to convince Ishant to bowl short consistently or even get him bowl from round the wicket. I set the field for him so that he doesn’t even think of bowling full-up, so he was forced to bowl the length that I want him to bowl.
It worked and once he got Moeen Ali’s wicket, he was eager enough to try that line for consistent period of time,” said the Indian skipper of the short-bowling ploy. Ali, Prior, Ben Stokes, Root and Broad – one after another, five batsmen fell to this tactic. It is a fascinating story, whereinIndia moved a step forward from almost-there and crossed the finish line. For once, Dhoni’s ‘process’ found a happy ending.
– FP Excerpt: India vs England: For Dhoni and India, the Lord’s win is the end of a long ‘process’

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