By Michael Stafford-Jones
- England thrash India by an innings and 159 runs in the Second Test
- Man-of-the-match Chris Woakes hits unbeaten 137 and takes 4-43 in the match.
- James Anderson finishes with match figures of 9-43
LORD’S, ENGLAND – Chris Woakes and James Anderson play the starring roles as England annihilate India by an innings and 159 runs in the Second Test to go 2-0 up in the series.
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England’s bowlers remain dominant on home soil
England’s bowling attack completely dominated India’s batting line-up from first ball to last at Lord’s. James Anderson finished with match figures of 9-43, Stuart Broad took 5-81 and Chris Woakes ended with 4-43. Consequently, the highest score made by an Indian batsman in the match was Ravichandran Ashwin’s 33 not out in the second innings.
This happened because England’s seamers are the best in the world at exploiting the kind of conditions we saw in this Test match: overcast skies, a helpful pitch and a swinging Dukes ball. Nevertheless, it is always thrilling to see these high-class international bowlers demonstrate their prodigios skills.
Anderson has now taken 553 Test wickets and is arguably the best-ever bowler in English conditions, so comments made by England Head Coach Trevor Bayliss will not have been welcomed by batsmen from other teams.
Bayliss told BBC Sport: “In the last 12-18 months, he has had a shoulder problem, but at the moment he seems to have got over that pretty well.”
“As long as he keeps his body fit, there’s no reason why he can’t go on for three or four years.”
India’s batsmen have not learnt how to play in English conditions
While England’s bowlers are deservedly praised for their exploits so in this series, India’s batsmen should certainly be criticised because they have failed to find an effective method to counter the opposition threat.
Virat Kohli showed the way to do it in the First Test when he left well during his patient hundred at Edgbaston. He also played with soft hands so that, when he did edge it, it frequently did not carry to the slips.
However, his teammates have not been able to match him. Some have played with their bat and pad too far apart and been dismissed bowled or LBW. Others have wafted at deliveries outside their off-stump and been caught in the slips. But the one constant is that none of them have ever looked truly comfortable at the crease.
They will not be able to make a lot of technical changes before the next Test begins at Trent Bridge on Saturday, but what they can change is their mindset. The Indian batsmen need to concentrate on leaving the ball alone when it is going wide of their off-stump. If they can do this, England’s bowlers will be forced to bowl at the stumps to try and get them out. Then the batsmen can pick off runs by hitting to the leg-side. In this way, they will have removed their most common method of dismissal from the equation.
Woakes is a brilliant replacement for Stokes
England could have been forgiven for being worried about the absence of Ben Stokes after he took numerous crucial wickets at Edgbaston. However, their concerns surely evaporated as soon as Woakes dismissed Kohli on the first afternoon of play.
The seamer also got the wicket of Hardik Pandya during a superb spell of swing bowling that reduced India to 61-5 and put England firmly on top.
Then a good match for Woakes became a great one when he batted as he scored his maiden Test hundred in sublime style. He demonstrated his excellent technique and picked the right balls to attack during a very well-compiled innings.
Even more importantly, the Warwickshire player’s partnership of 189 with Jonny Bairstow put the game well beyond India. Woakes then grabbed a couple of second-innings wickets as England completed an emphatic innings victory.
This series might not be as close as we thought
After England endured a difficult winter in Australia and New Zealand and made a patchy start to the summer against Pakistan, many observers expected a tough series against India – the World’s No.1 Test team.
Instead, there has been a strong sense of déjà vu as India’s batsmen have struggled against England’s seam bowlers in their home conditions. This was even the case in the First Test as, despite the small margin of victory for the hosts, all the visiting batsmen (except Kohli) failed to make significant contributions with the bat.
To turn the series around, India’s batsmen will have to learn fast because the next match is at another ground known for its helpful conditions for swing bowlers: Trent Bridge. If they do not fare better against Anderson and company in Nottingham, England will soon be 3-0 up and the series will be over.
Root raised the possibility of a whitewash. He told BBC Sport, “Obviously, that would be the dream – to put in five complete performances and have five wins.”
“But it’s important we don’t get complacent, arrogant, or look too far ahead. We’re not the finished article – we’ve got a long way to go to where we want to get to.”
If England blow India away in similar fashion at Trent Bridge, perhaps a whitewash is possible. For now, all we can say for sure is that it no longer looks like it will be a close series.
The Third Test between England and India begins at 11am at Trent Bridge on Saturday 18th August.
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