After the high of day one where openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul played with authority, India endured a tough day two in the second Test against England at Lord’s. The batting collapsed and the bowlers were met with a defiant England top order.
But between all of that was a familiar burst by Mohammed Siraj that proved to be the high point for his team on the day.
As it happened: England vs India, day two of the second Test at Lord’s
The start on Friday couldn’t have been worse for India as Rahul, unbeaten on 127 overnight, was dismissed off the second ball of the day. Five balls later, Ajinkya Rahane was sent packing and before anyone knew it, England were back in the contest.
India lost their last seven wickets for just 86 runs. James Anderson was the star with the ball yet again as he picked up his 31st five-wickets haul in Test cricket. After looking good to get past 450 at the start of the day, India were bowled out for 364.
Even then, Virat Kohli and Co were in a strong position at that point. Wickets with the new ball would’ve pushed England into a corner again. However, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah struggled to get much out of the pitch in the first 11 overs of the innings. Rory Burns ended up scoring 49, while skipper Joe Root carried forward his fine form to finish the day unbeaten on 48.
England were staring down the barrel when the day began, but they finished trailing by 245 runs with seven wickets in hand. They were still in a precarious position. But after facing the risk of being batted out of the contest, they would’ve been happy with how they fought back to remain in the hunt.
For India, there were three things worth cherishing on the day. First, the sixth-wicket partnership of 49 runs between Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja. After the the horror start, both left-handers steadied the ship to a degree and added valuable runs.
Then, towards the end of the day, came the dismissal of a well-set Burns. The left-hander was hungry for runs and showed promise in his 136-ball stay at the crease. But Mohammed Shami got an important breakthrough by coming round the wicket and trapping the opener in front. That wicket would’ve lifted the spirit of the Indian team heading to stumps.
But between these two little victories was a double strike by Siraj, which proved to be the brightest spot for India on the day.
The right-arm pacer came into the attack in the 13th over of the innings. Until then, Burns and Sibley hadn’t gotten off to a flying start but they had done an important job for England by negating the new ball. However, in just his second over, Siraj removed Sibley and Haseeb Hameed off consecutive deliveries to put India firmly back in the driver’s seat.
Sibley’s wicket was a bit of a gift. The right-hander got out in identical fashion to his dismissal in the first innings at Trent Bridge – a flick straight to mid-wicket. But the ball first-up to Hameed, who was making a comeback to Test cricket after five years, was a beauty. It was pitched right up, it swung in a bit, then seamed away a bit, and crashed into middle and off.
This wasn’t the first time Siraj showed his happy knack of making things happen with the ball in hand. In the six Tests he had played before this one, the 27-year-old provided a number of similar moments of inspiration. He got wickets when his team needed it the most.
– In his debut Test in Melbourne last year, Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green were the top scorers in Australia’s two innings. Siraj was the one who dismissed both of them.
– In the epic series-clinching win at Brisbane, Siraj removed the dangerous Labuschagne and Matthew Wade in one over. He then returned to get the key wicket of Steve Smith before completing a five-for.
– In the second Test against England at Chennai earlier his year, Siraj got just one wicket but it was an important one. England got bowled out for 134 in their first innings and their biggest partnership was of 35 runs. Siraj broke it by removing Ollie Pope.
– In the fourth Test against England in Ahmedabad, on a spinner-friendly pitch, Siraj got the key wickets of Root and Jonny Bairstow in the middle order.
– And in the first Test of the ongoing series against England, Siraj broke three partnerships of 41, 37 and 42 runs respectively.
Siraj won’t bowl the most fantastic deliveries but he has a way of making batsmen uncomfortable. His captain can count on him to bowl with hostility in every spell. Even on Friday, he didn’t get much or seam but he bowled smartly to get two important wickets.
India have an important job to do in the first session on day three. Root has looked in control for the most part in this series, and the England captain will be determined to cut down the lead. Siraj has gotten off to a strong start as well and it won’t be a surprise if Kohli keeps turning to him for breakthroughs.