What exactly happened at Lord’s yesterday?
Even the best of script writers would struggle to match up to what transpired at Lord’s in that hour after lunch. Take a step back and your mind off that hour. The Lord’s Test match has been weird.
A green pitch turned into a dust bowl in a matter of four days, Murali Vijay scripted one of best Test knocks of the year, Bhuvneshwar Kumar switched on the Jacques Kallis mode, MS Dhoni pulled out his gully cricket fundas, Ishant Sharma delivered a devastating spell and Ravi Jadeja turned into a cult figure.
After replaying the five days of cricket at Lord’s in my mind, am pretty certain that something serious went down in the player’s tunnel at Trent Bridge.
Cast your minds back. When was the last time, you’ve seen an all-out attack from an Indian team? After the Monkey-gate may be. But when was the last time have you seen an Indian team launch such a brutal attack on an opposition? And when was the last time have you seen an Indian team lay out a plan and execute it so perfectly?
The series started a bit differently though. Trent Bridge was timid. On a flat deck, both teams were happy dancing in the ring while swaying away from each other. No serious punches were thrown and no one was hurt. It was a win-win for both teams because the criticisms were hurled at the groundsmen while the praises were showered on the players.
Then something happened.
“It’s not something that we have done. Let’s realise the fact. Like in a press conference you can ask me tough questions. I have the right to answer them or not to answer them, but in no way can I go and touch you. Or you can come and touch me. You can put it in whatever way you want to but there are certain things that need to be followed, and it should be followed.” – MS Dhoni
When was the last time MS Dhoni spoke so freely in a press con? Play the video and listen to him, again. This time forget the words; focus on the intent behind those words. He was angry and when he said, – “It was good on Jadeja’s part to not really do something.” – One felt that India was gearing up for a stern reply.
England was ready too. In complete contrast to Trent Bridge, they prepared a lush green ‘we-are-coming-for-you’ pitch at Lord’s. They even snatched the advantage when the coin came down in their favour. But that was the end of that. From there on it was all India. Out of the 14 sessions played in the Test match, India won an overwhelming nine. And they did it with players whom even most of the Indian fans don’t fancy.
Ishant Sharma, Murali Vijay and Ravindra Jadeja – along with Rohit Sharma, these three form the famous quartet that dominates the social media whenever the Indian cricket team loses. In the recent months, Rohit Sharma has somehow managed to squeeze out of the group but these three still top the charts as the most trolled cricketers in India.
Ishant Sharma can’t bowl, Murali Vijay is the captain’s pet and Ravindra Jadeja is the alter ego of Rajnikanth. It has been the pattern and to be fair, not completely unjustified. Ishant Sharma has been frustrating the Indian fans since that Australian summer. Murali Vijay irritates everyone by playing a horrible shot after a pretty twenty and Ravindra Jadeja behaves like the weather – brilliance coupled with devastation.
However, despite bearing the wrath, the trolls and puns of the fans, these three continue to be an integral part of Team India. The fans don’t like it but MS Dhoni does. He is strange captain who does weird things. He puts his faith in the Joginder Sharmas, the Munaf Patels, the Piyush Chawlas and then churns out match winning performances. When it comes off, he looks brilliant but lately, his Midas touch had deserted him.
However, Lord’s seems to bring out the best in him. In 2011, he removed his pads and came on to bowl. He drew immense flak from all quarters for tinkering with the sanctity of the occasion but then he almost got Kevin Pietersen out. In 2013, he brought on a low-on-confidence Ishant Sharma to bowl the 17th over in the Champions Trophy finals and sealed the trophy for India.
This time he took it up another notch. First, he played five batsmen on a green track, batted number six with his jugaad technique, stood up to the stumps for Bhuvneshwar Kumar and stood behind for Ravindra Jadeja.
If this wasn’t enough, he played his wild card just before lunch on Day 5 – the short ball strategy. Bouncing a team out is luxury for teams like Australia and South Africa.
They do because they can.
Most batsmen aren’t too thrilled about a Dale Steyn or a Mitch Johnson hurling 90 miles/hour missiles at their head but when they see Ishant Sharma at the bowling mark, an unintentional smirk is bound to appear.
It could have gone all wrong. In fact, it started to. 20 runs in the first two overs and blurry images of Johannesburg and Wellington started to appear on the horizon. Joe Root was doing a Faf du Plessis while Matt Prior was reminding of a certain James Faulkner of Mohali.
But just when twitter was about to explode with Ishant Sharma puns, the Delhi-lad got one right. It climbed on Prior, got the top edge and found Vijay in the deep. Ishant stood in the centre of pitch letting out a war cry while MS Dhoni leapt at least two feet off the ground, punched the air in a rare display of celebration. What followed next was carnage. England gave India a foot in the door and MS Dhoni blasted them open at the Mecca of cricket.
28 years is a long time and to fail over those 28 years makes it even longer. Even this year, India was not supposed to win. India was supposed roll over on a green pitch without a fight. Alastair Cook was supposed to go up and face Mike Atherton with an ‘I-have-got-this-covered-bro’ smile. Lord’s was set up for England to get them back on their feet but India cut them off from their knees.
India won because they bullied England. England was ready for Virat Kohli’s greatness but India threw Vijay’s resolve, Pujara’s solidity, Rahane’s resilience, Bhuvi’s silent brilliance, Jadeja’s swagger and Ishant’s valour at them.
MS Dhoni has won a lot for India. He has won every possible trophy a cricket team can but 21 July 2014, will be a very special day for the Indian captain because it was not only about breaking the 15-match away Test jinx for him, it was about scripting a fairy-tale on the hallowed turf with a bunch of unfancied trolls.
P.S.: India 1-0 England but Jadeja 3-0 Anderson.