Final-day full house expected as India, and Tendulkar, bid to deny England
Close: First Test, day four, Lord’s
Match score: India 80-1 (Dravid 34*, Laxman 32*) and 286 (Dravid 103*; Broad 4-37) need 378 more runs to beat England 474-8 dec (Pietersen 202*, Prior 71, Trott 70; Kumar 5-106) and 269-6 dec (Prior 103*, Broad 74*; Sharma 4-41) Full scorecard
Session score: India 80-1, England 95-0 Draw
Four years ago on this ground, England raced against the rain and, with India nine wickets down, Monty Panesar went up for an lbw appeal against Sreesanth but Steve Bucknor declined to raise a finger. TV replays indicated the umpire was wrong.
It would be a fitting climax to an enthralling Test if tomorrow panned out in a similar fashion. The pitch is still good but showing the odd sign of wear and tear which its predecessor for the Sri Lanka Test last month did not.
Today provided the sort of cut and thrust that all the pre-series hype had promised. A furious spell of pace bowling from Ishant Sharma, almost from nowhere, was followed by a brilliant counter-attack from Matt Prior and Stuart Broad. And in glorious evening sunshine, Rahul Dravid, a makeshift opener, and VVS Laxman left England pondering their capability to take the nine remaining wickets to take a 1-0 series lead.
Broad’s golden arm took the one Indian wicket to fall after England’s declaration, Abhinav Mukund playing on as he had in the first innings. But Dravid and Laxman attacked when they had the chance and worried Andrew Strauss to be less than gung-ho in his field-settings.
Sachin Tendulkar was off the field with a virus for the first two sessions and is not permitted to bat until after lunch tomorrow unless five wickets have fallen before then.
It should be another cracking day and tickets (cash only) go on sale at 8.30am, priced at £20 for adults and free for under-16s. Get here if you can.
In 2007 Matt Prior was making his way in Test cricket and after a soft initiation against West Indies he started to find life uncomfortable against India.
He was the first bespoke selection of the new coach Peter Moores, who had been Prior’s boss at Sussex, and as England lost a frustrating and bad-tempered series Prior found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
At Trent Bridge after Zaheer Khan had spilled the (jelly) beans about England’s puerile and “insulting” tactics, Prior was the England player forced to defend his team and offer blandishments about Test cricket being a “hard game”.
He was dismissed as gobby and chippy gloveman, not fit to lace Jack Russell’s Weetabix, a symptom of the post-Fletcher England being able talk the talk but not walk the walk. By the end of the year Prior was dropped after a shocker behind the stumps.
The image that he did nothing to cultivate was, we now know, a misrepresentation. He is an affable chap, much happier in his own skin and comfortable with his place in the side, which is integral. His glovework is excellent and his batting is highly effective and highly entertaining.
If anyone is an enforcer in this England team, it is Prior at the pivotal No.7 position and so often playing match-changing innings.
In the first Test of last summer’s main series against Pakistan he came to the crease at Trent Bridge with England on 98 for 6 and made 102 not out. This afternoon he came in at 62 for 5 with Ishant Sharma in full spate.
He took guard almost on off stump against Sharma to avoid being drawn down the slope as his colleagues had been.
After lunch, he found to his delight that India had run their race. Sharma did not bowl for 40 minutes and when he did he had nothing left. There were few alternatives.
Prior’s first four, a cover drive, came from his 47th ball and it was only the second scored off Sharma. Nine overs later he sent Gautam Gambhir from the field after smashing a pull into the fielder’s left elbow. X-rays indicated nothing more serious than bruising but he wasn’t able to open the innings.
On 62, Prior signalled England’s post-tea intent in the fourth over after tea, trying to heave Harbhajan Singh into the Mound Stand. He didn’t connect properly and the ball landed conveniently at mid-on between three converging fielders.
Meanwhile Broad rattled up his own fifty and the century stand came up off 129 balls. India were in disarray, beset by injury, illness and incompetence.
Prior brought up his third Test hundred at Lord’s with a cut for four off Suresh Raina’s shabby off spin and England had scored 95 runs in 12 overs since tea.
Shot of the day: VVS Laxman’s delicate back-foot cover drive off Chris Tremlett, reminiscent of Mohammad Azharuddin at his most stylish.
Ball of the day: Sharma’s rising delivery outside off stump that nicked Kevin Pietersen’s outside edge and got India going this morning.
Stat of the day: Andrew Strauss declared for the successive innings, an England record. The world record is five successive declarations, held jointly by Australia (2001) and Sri Lanka (2007-08).
Half-baked tribute of the day: At lunch there was a parade to celebrate the 100th England v India Test. It was supposed to be only former captains but in the end it comprised a variety of people including Bob Bennett, former Lancashire chairman who managed a tour to India. There was a team photo in which ECB chairman Giles Clarke appeared centre stage. There was no sign of Dilip Vengsarkar, one of India’s great performers at Lord’s, despite him being in the country.
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John