India held the edge in the second Test against England after day two at Lord’s on Friday. In reply to India’s 295, England lost two late wickets, including that of centurion Gary Ballance, to end the day on 219 for 6. Medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled brilliantly to return 4 for 46.
Ballance spared England’s blushes with a solid 110. He made the most of a missed opportunity when he was on 32. His edge off Stuart Binny went through between MS Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan at first slip with both looking despairingly at each other.
Ballance’s partnership of 98 runs with Moeen Ali for the fifth wicket shored up the innings which was reeling at 113 for 4 at one time. However, the hosts lost the advantage towards the end as Murali Vijay and Bhuvneshwar got rid of Ali and Ballance respectively to bring India back into the contest.
Ali (32) fell lbw to a delivery that pitched on leg and straightened, opening Vijay’s wickets account in Test cricket, while Ballance edged a ball going down leg to bring Dhoni into play behind the wickets. Matt Prior (2) and nightwatchman Liam Plunkett (4) were at the crease at the close of play.
Before the Ballance-Ali stand, India were in full control. Ravindra Jadeja trapped Joe Root lbw for 13 as England reached tea at 125 for 4. Bhuvneshwar also broke a 43-run stand between Ballance and Ian Bell when the latter looked to leave a delivery from the medium pacer but it kicked up unexpectedly to brush his gloves and reached into the safe hands of Jadeja at third slip. Bell made 16.
Ballance and the bearded Ali, who slog-swept Jadeja for a four off the first ball he faced, closed out the second session for the hosts. Ballance completed his fifty in the penultimate over before tea with a single off Vijay on the offside.
Earlier in the day, Bhuvneshwar reduced the hosts to 51 for 2 at lunch. However, Mohammed Shami could have been the first to be among the wickets had Ajinkya Rahane not dropped Sam Robson for 8 in the 10th over of the innings.
Bhuvneshwar, who made a dogged 36 in India’s score, first removed out-of-form England captain Alastair Cook for 10 off the first ball of the the next over as the left-hander edged one away-going delivery straight through to Dhoni. Four overs later, Bhuvneshear struck again as Robson edged a delivery that bounced a little more than expected, giving Dhoni his second catch. Robson made 17.
On a partial pitch to fast bowlers, India’s medium pacers plied their trade with great discipline for most part of the innings, giving the home batsmen no breathing space.
India’s last-wicket stand lasted just 10 balls into the day when Ben Stokes had Shami (19) caught by Cook. The tourists just added five runs to their overnight score. Ishant Sharma remained unbeaten on his overnight score of 12 as Cook took his 100th Test catch.
India resumed the day on 290 for 4. Shami picked up a four through a lemon cut in the first over of the day bowled by James Anderson, who was just one wicket away from his 16th five-for. Anderson eventually finished with 4 for 64. Stokes and Stuart Broad took two wickets each.
India’s record at the hallowed ground is poor, wining just one game, losing 11 and drawing four. With the wicket assisting fast bowlers here, they have a big chance to improve it.