As has been the case all through this intriguing Test, the final day too had twists and turns. The narrow first innings lead had reduced this Test to a second innings shootout. With England needing 214 runs and 6 wickets in hand for a win on the final day, it was a cat and mouse game at Lord’s, where tactics changed with every wicket or even a few hits to the fence. Rain was expected, the ball was losing shine, it was a day when a skipper had to take a number of tough calls. Here’s how MS Dhoni, often referred as the shorter-version general who runs out of ideas in Tests, set up smoke screens, laid mine fields, retreated, charged, and, finally conquered.
Starting with 7-2: England: 105/4. Target: 319. Dhoni starts with Ravindra Jadeja from the Nursery End. Michael Holding from the commentary box isn’t happy, he wants a pacer. From the pavilion end, Ishant Sharma bowls to a 7-2 field. Dhoni wants his tallest and fastest bowler to bowl outside off as he did during the final hour on Sunday. Sharma bothers Joe Root with balls that first seem to be going down the Lord’s slope but hold its line after pitching. Root edges, the ball falls just in front of Shikhar Dhawan at first slip. The cordon looks at each other. They think of taking a step ahead, but decide against it. India miss the first chance of the day. Dhoni’s Plan A almost comes off.
Jaldi karo, barish hai: It’s 11:30 am. There is a sudden cloud cover over Lord’s. The floodlights are on. Dhoni shouts from behind the stumps: “Jaldi karo, barish aane wali hai”. Out of the blue, Shikhar Dhawan is thrown the ball. He is taken off after one over. Dhoni’s Plan B has Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami bowling in tandem. The heavy workload is showing on Bhuvneshwar as he can’t get pace or bounce. A slight drizzle starts, trickle of runs continue. Dhoni is restless. The field changes, now its 6-3. The slip cordon has taken the step ahead but there are no edges. Rahane is heard on the stump mic ‘bas ek wicket chahiye’. The elusive wicket doesn’t come. The captain has one hand behind him and the other on his face. He is thinking hard.
Withdrawn keeper: He brings Jadeja back, who goes around the wicket to the right-hander Root in