India's batsmen proved wrong Virat Kohli's claims that their shortcomings had nothing to do with technique
The build-up to the second Test between England and India at Lord’s had been surrounded with talks of whether India would play a second spinner in the line-up.
After all, Ravichandran Ashwin had made the England batsmen sing to his tune in the first Test at Edgbaston while the ongoing heat wave in the UK was showing no signs of relenting.
Come the first day at Lord’s, the heavens opened up over London as the heat wave made way for the customary English summer rains.
That allowed both captains to keep their cards close to their chests when it came to naming the playing XIs for the Test.
The second day, which was originally forecast to be the best day weather-wise, brought with it some more rains as a delayed start ensued.
Despite the onset of the rains, India skipper Virat Kohli chose to go with two spinners with Kuldeep Yadav replacing pacer Umesh Yadav in the playing XI.
What followed was the stuff of nightmares for the visitors as once again, Kohli’s luck deserted him at the toss with Joe Root having no hesitation in having a bowl first in overcast conditions.
The stage had been set for one of Lord’s favourite performers James Anderson.
With the skies wearing a ominous grey look and a bright red Duke ball in hand, there is perhaps no graver sight for a batsman in England than to see Anderson steaming up the slope at the iconic cricket ground.
He got to work straight away as he brought the packed house at Lord’s to its feet with only the fifth delivery of the day.
A flabbergasted Murali Vijay could only look on in disbelief as a gem of a late out-swinger took out his off-stump.
The tone had been set for what was to follow as India’s worst fears were about to come true.
Kohli had been at pains to mention that the shortcomings displayed by India’s batsmen at Edgbaston had been more on the ‘mental’ side rather than technical.
Based on the 35 odd overs that were bowled on Friday, the Indian skipper could very well have been bluffing rather than being serious.
For England’s pacers were absolutely unrelenting as they kept pegging away at the ever-dangerous line just outside off-stump which has been Anderson’s bread and butter since he was a toddler.
The techniques of the batsmen, including Kohli’s himself, were cruelly exposed as edges kept flying towards the slip cordon.
England kept landing the ball in the sweet spot and India’s batsman kept erring with each passing swipe.
Cheteshwar Pujara resisted the English attack briefly on his Test return but his run-out woes came back to haunt him and render his 25-ball stay at the crease effectively meaningless.
Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane too put up a brief resistance before being sucked in towards poking at inviting deliveries outside the off stump. They took the bait and paid the ultimate price.
That Ashwin ended up as the top-scorer tells you all you need to know about the sorry state that is India’s batting.
The mantra for England’s pacers had been simple – keep pegging away at the off-stump and let India’s technical shortcomings rear its ugly head.
Now, after effectively just a session and a half of actual play in the Test, India are staring down the barrel and have been left with a mammoth mountain to climb.
To add insult to their injury, they will now have the services of just two specialist pacers and Hardik Pandya on a pitch where England spinner Adil Rashid could very well have stayed back at Yorkshire without his absence even registering.
It was a perfect storm and a dash of James Anderson that hit India with full force on Friday.
The script will be complete on Saturday should the sun come out and give England the perfect batting conditions to further deepen India’s misery.