Prior and Broad start to take game away from India
Tea: First Test, day four, Lord’s
Match score: England 174-6 (Prior 55*, Broad 36*; Sharma 4-41) and 474-8 dec (Pietersen 202*, Prior 71, Trott 70; Kumar 5-106) lead India 286 (Dravid 103*; Broad 4-37) by 362 runs Full scorecard
Session score: England 102-1 England win
Trevor Penney was one of the finest fielders the county game has seen as Warwickshire fans of the mid-1990s would attest.
Hired by Duncan Fletcher as India’s fielding coach, he hasn’t been in situ long enough yet to make much of a difference but it’s fair to say he has his work cut out.
There are many factors that will contribute to the result of this Test and the series but fielding and other seemingly peripheral matters are heavily in England’s favour.
India ran out of steam after lunch, the dismissal of Eoin Morgan notwithstanding. By tea, Praveen Kumar looked plenty older than his 24 years, bowling off about three paces.
Earlier he had received some very curious-looking hands-on treatment from the physio inside the boundary’s edge. It was unclear whether his shoulders, chest or some other part of his body was ailing but it didn’t look good. When he sprawled to make a stop and fling the ball to the stumps, he got up with all the relish of a man three times his edge.
Zaheer Khan has a strained hamstring, Sachin Tendulkar was off the field all day with a virus and Gautam Gambhir took a fearful crack on the elbow at short leg. India has a wheel in the centre of its national flag but it might be worth checking that it hasn’t fallen off.
The positioning of India’s slip cordon has been much debated during this Test. They were standing too deep and too close together. There was no rapport between Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the wicketkeeper, and Rahul Dravid at first slip. Dhoni’s keeping has been notably dreadful in this match and he was at fault again when Stuart Broad edged Ishant Sharma through a now wider gap between Dhoni and Dravid.
Sharma, the lion of the pre-lunch session, could do only so much. He beat Morgan for pace as the batsman mistimed a pull to mid-wicket to leave England 107 for 6 but that was the sum of India’s threat.
Matt Prior was expert again, full of energy and poise while Broad, buoyed by his bowling yesterday, biffed in the manner of his career-best 169 here a year ago.
Meanwhile, Lord’s is preparing for a full house tomorrow with England fans descending on Lord’s hoping to see their side take a series lead and Indians from all over the capital coming to see Sachin bat. Get here early is the message. It’ll be cash only on the gate, £20 for adults and free for under-16s.
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John