India’s victory against England in the last hour at Lords.
As Joe Root crouched dejectedly after exiting, attacker Jasprit Bumrah ran towards him, his arms striking the air. Like an outraged boxer who had knocked out his champion opponent, he kept staring at Root. Captain Virat Kohli was walking away with delirious joy in another corner of the field. They knew how to define that wicket.
Taking out Root, England’s mainstay of batting, was only as good as the battle won, as England’s middle order was flimsy and lacked the quality to win the match or force a draw. Jos Buttler did his best to salvage a draw, but Mohammed Siraj’s double-wicket blast sealed a famous 151-run victory on Lord’s Monday for the Indian cricket team to lead the series 1-0 after two Tests.
Siraj didn’t seem like someone who had made his testing debut earlier this year. He was fearless and feisty, his aggression to the face was a reflection of the ideals that Kohli held close to his heart. Three times, his double blows shaped the match. In the early innings, he swallowed Dom Sibley and Haseeb Hameed with the new ball. Then in the second, he grabbed the grounds of Moeen Ali and Sam Curran as the match appeared to wind its way into a draw, before firing Buttler and Anderson in death.
It is another potential moment of meeting with destiny for Indian cricket at the home of cricket. And Kohli would call victory, one day after August 15, “the best gift we can give to the people of India.”
As distinctive as Kohli’s celebratory excesses were, Bumrah’s overly aggressive body language was strange. Since his debut, he has been known as the Smiling Killer. But then the sight of the smooth Bumrah turning into a fast and evil bowler illustrates how intensely heated this test match has unfolded.
The procedures of day five, and a little bit of day four and three, could illuminate the touch paper in what could turn out to be a series of fiery tests.
No one symbolized the nature of this party as much as Bumrah. He was rushing inside, his face showing the unease of a man seeking revenge. Batting in the morning, en route to an 89-run alliance on the game-defining ninth field, he had been hit by Mark Wood on the side of his helmet.
And then Jos Buttler and Wood decided to make fun of the pain. Bumrah was enraged and Buttler was heard saying, “I wasn’t the one complaining about slow bowling, man.” The referees intervened and appeared to quell the outbreak. The embers were still burning.
On the next ball, Bumrah hit Wood through the point. In reply, the bowler struck him in the helmet. He peppered him with more shortstop balls to his body, but Bumrah moved away from the line. In the end, it only frustrated England’s bowlers as they withered in their futile quest to break through the stands.
The short ball blitz was a response to a similar treatment that Bumrah had given James Anderson at the end of the third day. The England veteran also received a blow to his helmet and elbow. Anderson looked furious as he retreated to the pavilion. Bumrah walked over and clapped him on the shoulder, but Anderson was still muttering something to himself. The incident may have been the foreshadowing spark to illuminate the series.
Kohli was at her best. On the fourth day, he was constantly worried about the light or the lack of it. When he was hitting, he involved Anderson with verbs. “You’re cursing me again, right? This is not your fucking backyard, ”Kohli told Anderson at the beginning of the change. The fast bowler from England grimaced. Kohli didn’t stop. After the fifth ball, he continued, “Chirp, chirp, chirp. This is what old age does to you. ”
Later, when Kohli led his men to defend the goal in the fourth inning, he urged the Indian crowd to increase their decibel levels. They replied, and the lugubrious Lord’s for a moment felt like sunny Wankhede. More verbs flew, some unprintable, some more like jokes. Buttler recalled his diminishing returns in test cricket. “Don’t worry about it, it’s not cue ball cricket.” Ollie Robinson, when he played and missed a cover drive, was irritated: “The guy laughed at me when I missed a cover drive.”
Even when the Indian bowlers got tired towards the end of the day, they never turned down the intensity. Bumrah incarnated it again, casting a spell of relentless hostility in the face of death, breaking Robinson and Buttler’s resistance, before Siraj trapped in Buttler and Anderson for a famous victory. But there are three more tests, and the series will only accumulate more heat and fire.
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