London: India clinched their first Test win at the historic Lord’s in nearly three decades as they rode on Ishant Sharma’s inspired spell of fast bowling to demolish England by 95 runs and take a 1-0 lead in the five match series here today.
The lanky speedster, whose consistency has always been under the scanner, delivered when it mattered most, as he grabbed a career-best 7 for 74 to bowl out the home team for a 223 in pursuit of a competitive victory target of 319.
From a relatively comfortable 173 for four, the last six wickets fell for only 50 runs with the final five coming in only 12.2 overs after lunch on an absorbing fifth day’s play.
It took 28 long years for India to win a Test match at the ‘Home of Cricket’ after ‘Kapil Dev’s team achieved the feat back in June 1986 winning by five wickets.
It also marked Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s first significant victory as Test captain outside the sub-continent. The last time India won a Test match outside the South Asian region was back in 2011 when they defeated West Indies in a 1-0 series win.
The victory was achieved in the 89th over when James Anderson tapped a Ravindra Jadeja delivery towards short cover and set off for non-existent single but Jadeja was alert enough to pick up and break the stumps down with a direct throw triggering off instant celebrations.
Skipper Dhoni as usual collected a stump as souvenir as the jubilant players hugged each other with the support staff and reserve bench applauding them from the hallowed balcony.
Resuming at a precarious 105 for four on the final day, the two overnight batsmen Joe Root (66) and Moeen Ali (39) batted with a lot of determination adding 101 runs in 44.4 overs before Ishant struck at the stroke of lunch.
He got one to rear up awkwardly as left-hander Ali took his eyes off the ball in order to fend it. The ball lobbed up at short leg for Cheteshwar Pujara to complete a simple catch.
Then came a series of horrible pull-shots as each and every England batsmen took the bait of pulling Ishant and were holed out in the process. Matt Prior (12) deposited the mistimed pull to Murali Vijay specifically stationed at deep mid-wicket boundary for that shot.
Ben Stokes (0) completed a hat-trick of ducks as he provided a skier which Pujara accepted gleefully. Root, who looked solid in defence then pulled straight down Stuart Binny’s throat at deep square leg.
Once Stuart Broad (8) gloved one down the leg side to Dhoni, Ishant broke Amar Singh’s 78-year-old record by recording the best bowling figures by an Indian at the ‘Mecca of Cricket’. He had taken 6 for 35.
Interestingly, this is also India’s first Test win since the retirement of legendary Sachin Tendulkar as India have drawn three and lost two in the five Tests since the iconic cricketer’s retirement in November 2013.
Ironically, when England lost to India at the Lord’s back in 1986, it brought down curtains on David Gower’s captaincy as Mike Gatting was put in the hot seat in place of the elegant left-hander.
It seems like ‘Yesterday Once More’ for the home team skipper Alastair Cook’s head is on line after prolonged poor form with the bat as well as his lack of assertiveness while captaining the side.
For the Indian captain Dhoni, it will be one of his happiest moments having received a lot of flak for losing eight Test matches overseas in England and Australkia during the 2011-12 season.