England make inroads but should have had more after Sachin cameo
Tea: First Test, day three, Lord’s
Match score: India 193-5 (Dravid 59*, Dhoni 4, Mukund 49; Broad 3-28) trail England 474-8 dec (Pietersen 202*, Prior 71, Trott 70; Kumar 5-106) by 281 runs Full scorecard
Session score: India 71-3 England win
For half an hour or so after lunch, the anticipation and atmosphere built minute by appreciable minute. Sachin Tendulkar looked tigerish, fidgety and hungry. And in sensational touch.
He hit five fours in the first six overs after lunch, the best being a back-foot cover drive, always a hallmark of top class, off Chris Tremlett.
At the other end, Rahul Dravid simply looked serene, as if sipping tea on the terrace while Tendulkar hoovered up the sandwiches.
England’s body language wilted until Chris Tremlett changed tack. Full on off stump had not worked against Sachin so he went short of a length with a short leg in place.
And suddenly Tendulkar, on 32, started to look uncomfortable. In mid-over Dravid came down the pitch to chat and patted him patronisingly on the shoulder. Two balls Tendulkar slashed an unconvincing two to third man. They were the last runs he would score.
Broad replaced Tremlett at the nursery end and in four balls he had his man, driving at an outswinger, caught low at second slip by Graeme Swann. After two angst-ridden months and the possibility of omission here, Broad was back in business.
Tendulkar’s departure brought relief to the England players and to the English press whose laptops would have over-heated had Sachin reached his landmark hundred.
But in the crowd, particularly at the nursery end where most of the Indians were, there were only groans of disappointment. He had looked so good, the golden goal seemed inevitable, the chants of “Sachin, Sachin” were under way. There will surely be another day.
Broad should have had the entire Indian top five. Two catches went down in his 19th over, Andrew Strauss dropping a sitter at first slip to let VVS Laxman off on nought and Swann dropping Dravid off on 42 five balls later at second slip. A few weeks ago Strauss dropped two slip catches, one very easy, for Middlesex against Gloucestershire at Uxbridge. There are issues to address.
Tremlett replaced Broad and had Laxman caught at long leg by Jonathan Trott, the batsman flicking lazily at a standard short-of-a-length ball. Two balls later Swann had Suresh Raina lbw, the ball straightening a touch down the slope and heading for the leg stump.
So far in this match the lack of lbw referrals has served only to highlight umpiring excellence. Hopefully it will stay that way.
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John