The first Test at Lord’s sees the pendulum of pressure swinging back on India

2011-07-27 00:00

INDIA have enjoyed sublime success of late but the first Test match of the series against England at Lord’s proved a leveller for the current number one ranked test team.

England stamped their superiority on the historic first Test, claiming a 196-run victory on the final day in front of a record crowd at the home of cricket.

Under coach Andy Flower, England are hungry for success and will be savouring their first Test victory of the series and the knowledge that they have a chance to claim the number one Test spot should they win the series by a clear two-Test margin.

India’s captain M.S. Dhoni admitted after the first Test that “most of the things that could have gone wrong went wrong”.

Zaheer Khan’s hamstring injury, the lack of a third pace bowler to assist Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar as well as Harbhajan Singh’s failure to make an impact, left him with few bowling options.

Sachin Tendulkar’s time off the field after succumbing to a virus; the injury to Gautam Gambhir, which necessitated a reshuffling in the batting order on the crucial final day; as well as what Dhoni called “inconsistent bounce” made things especially tough for India. But these don’t change the fact that as a team they were under prepared.

India arrived in England on the back of a series in the Caribbean that served as little more than an opportunity for new coach Duncan Fletcher to get a look at the youngsters.

Factoring in India’s hectic itinerary Fletcher was obliged to rest the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman for the West Indies tour.

With just a single warm-up match against Somerset it was always going to be tough for India’s batsmen to come to terms with the English conditions in time for the first Test match at Lord’s.

The first indication that India were not as prepared as they would like to have been became apparent when Dhoni won the toss and elected to field. If you are confident in your batting line up you bat first at Lord’s.

The first hour is always tough but England’s 474 in the first innings bolstered by Pietersen’s superb double century, ensured India were under pressure for the rest of the match.

All of a sudden the pendulum of pressure has swung back on India. They need to get back into the series and stop England’s momentum if they are to defend their number one Test ranking.

Comparisons between Fletcher and former Indian coach Gary Kirsten who ended his tenure with India on top, are inevitable.

Fletcher will already be feeling some heat and will need to draw on all his experience and technical expertise to get his team back to their best for the second Test at Trent Bridge, which starts on Friday.

Andrew Strauss’s men have their tails up and if the intensity with which they played in the first Test is anything to go by India are not going to have things easy in Nottingham.

With injuries plaguing the Indians and little practice time between Tests, it’s going to take a special effort to stop the English juggernaut.

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