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England v India: ‘Joe Root’s side lost the plot in Lord’s defeat’

England v India: ‘Joe Root’s side lost the plot in Lord’s defeat’

I cannot explain what we saw at Lord’s.

The fifth day of the second Test against India, when England contrived to lose by 151 runs, will rank as one of their worst for a long time.

Thanks to the efforts of Joe Root and James Anderson, England had moved themselves into a winning position after playing three days of excellent cricket.

To then be beaten is bitterly disappointing.

Monday morning was following the script. England removed Rishabh Pant and Ishant Sharma, to leave India leading by 182 with only two wickets in hand.

The next stage would have been to wrap up the innings for 10 or 15 more runs, start batting and win just after tea.

What happened instead was absolutely extraordinary.

England immediately lost the plot when faced with bowling at Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.

In what has been a bad-tempered Test, England were sucked into the hostility, emotion and verbals, and it cost them the match.

Before this series, Bumrah averaged two in Test cricket. He cannot bat.

Shami’s recent innings have been lasting, on average, eight balls.

Genuine tailenders find themselves at the bottom of the batting order because they are unable to consistently defend good-length deliveries.

If you bowl too short, or too full, and set crazy fields, tailenders are more likely to thrive. That is exactly what happened.

It was as if England were overcome by what happened to Anderson when he was batting against Bumrah on the third evening.

At that time, Anderson was hit on the helmet as Bumrah repeatedly bowled bouncers at him.

Bumrah produced a 10-ball over because of four no-balls. There is no proof it was deliberate, but England might think that it was.

That could have clouded their judgement, with the result being what we saw before lunch on Monday.

At one point, captain Root left the field, when the England coaching staff probably asked what was going on. By the time England got back to basics, it was too late.

To think that, from 209-8, Shami and Bumrah moved India to a place from which India captain Virat Kohli could declare was incredible.

When things like that happen, teams can get befuddled and, sure enough, that manifested itself when England batted to save the game.

Rory Burns played a poor stroke to be dismissed in the first over, then Dom Sibley nearly ran himself out before he edged behind in the second over.

It was a terrible way to start, adding further fuel to a fiery environment that was driving India.

Whereas India were revelling in the powder keg, England shrunk, and were on the way to being beaten.

England are not in a good place. They are too reliant on Root’s batting. He is in superb touch, but the rest are clinging to what might soon become a wreckage.

They have to make changes for the third Test at Headingley next week.

Sibley must be replaced at the top of the order. He is a nice fella, works hard at his game and has had his moments in making two Test hundreds.

However, opposition teams seem to have worked him out and to be dismissed in the way he was in the first innings – caught at mid-wicket for the second time in the series – was the worst way he could get out.

England should move Haseeb Hameed up to open and bring Ollie Pope or Dawid Malan in to bat at number three.

England have a lot of issues, yet the most pressing is finding a way to prevent their top order being blown away.

If they do not fix that, it does not matter what else they come up with.

They go to Leeds without a win in seven Tests. India have had the better of both matches in this series – they were denied by rain in the opener at Trent Bridge and thoroughly deserved to win at Lord’s.

It is right that we acknowledge how good India have been and reflect on the quality of the cricket we have seen.

It ebbed and flowed, an immense contest. As we come to the conclusion of The Hundred, it was yet another reminder of why we love Test cricket.


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