India had everything going against them in the Lord's Test. England won what was a massive toss on a pitch tailor-made for their pace bowlers. All England had to do was put the ball in the right areas, and the pitch would have done the rest. Memories of past Indian collapses came flying back as India began to crumble under the pressure of the pitch as well as the circumstances. However, it was highly credible of the Indian batting not to completely falter under pressure. They were on the back foot for most part of the opening day, but recovered magnificently to claim the crucial lead in the five-match Test series.
The last and most crucial fight back from India came on the very final day of the Test. Mooen Ali and Joe Root were featuring in a partnership that was threatening to take the game away from India. This is when MS Dhoni played his masterstroke, asking Ishant Sharma to start attacking the Englishmen with the short ball. The move could have backfired, but on the day, it proved to be the winning tactic. The manner in which Ali was dismissed was ample proof of the fact that Ishant's tactics took England by surprise, and caught them napping. The following players thought it was a one-off, but Ishant continued his barrage, and England just did not have an answer to the lanky medium pacer's brilliance on the day.
The victory at Lord's was a culmination of a number of fight backs in the preceding days of the Test match. On the opening day, India could easily have been bowled out for 200 had Ajinkya Rahane not intervened to scuttle the English rampage. His partnership with Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave India some much-needed breathing space. The fact that they finished the opening day nine wickets down was moral victory under the circumstances. Even though they were only one wicket short of being all-round, surviving on the kind of pitch that was on offer was a massive achievement.
The job was still only half done for India because England still had the best conditions to bat on over the next two days. This is why Bhuvneshwar Kumar's first-innings effort was so special. There was still something in the pitch for him, and he exploited the same to the hilt to keep India very much in the game. He got the ball in the right areas and ensured that England's batsmen did not run away with the match. It was a fine display of medium pace bowling utilising whatever was left in the pitch for him to the optimum. Although England still managed a slender lead, India would have been the happier of the two sides at the halfway stage.
Three knocks firmly swung the balance in India's favour on the penultimate day. Murali Vijay's gutsy knock prevented a much-dreaded second-innings collapse. Further, Ravindra Jadeja kept his place in the side safe with a belligerent knock which, if it had misfired, would have raised many questions. However, his attacking knock put India firmly in the driver's seat, and another half-century from Bhuvneshwar Kumar further increased their advantage. It all could have horribly gone wrong for India though had Ishant and Dhoni not 'shorted' things out.
--By A Cricket Analyst