In the late 2000s, India became the No. 1 Test side in the world for the first time. And then in the early part of this decade (2010s), India lifted the World Cup for the second time and it seemed like MS Dhoni could do no wrong. But what followed the World Cup was absolute disaster. India were thrashed in England and Australia losing both Test series’ 4-0 in the respective countries in the 2011-2012 season.
In 2013-14, they competed well but lost 1-0 in South Africa and New Zealand. But then came England in 2014. India made a promising start and eked out a draw in the first Test.
They were then welcomed with a green top at Lord’s and there was talk that India could be rolled over easily. But the reverse is what panned out. India were magnificent in that Test match and won a thrilling game by 95 runs. It was a rare overseas victory, one which had come after 3 long years (and 15 Test matches).
Hence, with India’s next game at Lord’s, let’s look back at some of the heroes of that 2014 Lord’s Test match.
Ajinkya Rahane – 103
Ajinkya Rahane came into that Lord’s Test on the back of a couple of unconverted starts. He had made 32 and 24 in the first Test at Trent Bridge. He walked out to bat at 85 for 3 but it soon became 145 for 7 and Rahane was battling hard. At that stage, the Mumbaikar had made 28 off 69 deliveries.
India looked down and out at that stage. And it seemed like the same old story of the previous tours. It was seaming around and the England bowlers were on top but Rahane had other ideas as he counter-attacked beautifully. He was severe on anything loose. He drove and cut well, pulled with authority and nonchalantly put away the leg-stump deliveries.
He shared an excellent 90-run stand with Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the 8th wicket. He dominated that stand and the runs kept flowing. Rahane’s first 50 came in 101 deliveries and he scored the next 53 runs in just 50 balls. His counter-attack took England by surprise and he dragged India from 145 for 7 to 295, which was a competitive total on a pitch that was doing quite a bit.
Rahane’s innings set up the Test match for India as after the first innings they had runs on the board and they could put pressure on the England batting line-up.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar – 36 & 52, 6/82
Bhuvneshwar Kumar sat out of the 4 Test matches India played in South Africa and New Zealand. But he played the first Test match at Trent Bridge and was India’s standout player. He scored 58 and 63 in the two innings with the second innings’ 63 coming in a match-saving effort. He also took 5 for 82 in the first innings.
At Lord’s, he was once again India’s saviour with the bat. He walked out to bat in the first innings with the score reading 145/7. He came in and stood there like a rock. He might have scored just 36 but he shared a crucial 90-run stand with Rahane. Bhuvneshwar defended well and when the opportunity arised, he capitalized.
He then bowled a terrific spell and took 6/82 to keep England in check and India alive in the Test match. He dismissed England’s top four before returning to scalp Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad, later in the innings.
In the second innings, the Meerut lad once again starred with the bat. Coming into bat at a tricky situation with India’s lead just 211, Bhuvneshwar supported Ravindra Jadeja really well and shared another important stand of 99 for the 8th wicket. This time the right-arm seamer also got a half-century. It was his 3rd in four innings and was proving to be India’s unlikely hero. He scored 52, helping India to get to 342 in their second innings.
He couldn’t pick a wicket in the second innings, but his all-round show was vital. His contribution with the bat in both innings came when India was in deep trouble. And that 6-fer with the ball was a fine exhibition of swing and seam bowling.
Murali Vijay – 24 & 95
You remember the 2014 Lord’s victory and you tend to remember Ishant Sharma’s spell, Ajinkya Rahane’s counter-attacking ton and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s all-round show but there was one person who quietly went about his job and didn’t get noticed and is not credited enough for that win. That man is Murali Vijay.
He began the tour with a brilliant 146 in the first Test and then at Lord’s in the first innings, he made 24 but spent about more than an hour and a half blunting out the new ball before he failed to build on his start. He scored a gritty 95 in the second innings when wickets were falling around him.
That knock of 95 was full of patience, grit, determination and a touch of elegance. He grinded it out and was ready for everything England threw at him. He left the ball well, he defended well too and was in control of every ball he played. He shared a 78-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara for the second wicket but after the latter’s dismissal, India kept losing wickets. But he stood firm and held one end up.
That 95 from Vijay may not be remembered as some of the other performances but his innings was very important in the context of the game.
Ravindra Jadeja – 68, 2/46, 1/53
Ahead of the Test series, there was a big debate as to who should be India’s frontline spinner, Ravindra Jadeja or Ravichandran Ashwin. Jadeja got the nod and played the first three Tests. And he played a vital role in that win at Lord’s.
In the first innings, the left-handed all-rounder failed with the bat but he bowled well. On a green surface, he kept things tight and gave nothing away. He also picked up a couple of wickets. But then came the performance with the bat in the second innings.
At 203/6, India seemed to be in trouble. But Jadeja walked in and changed the complexion of the game. He went out and took the attack to the England bowlers. He smashed the bowlers all around the park and raised his maiden fifty in just 42 balls and it was also the first time, we saw the sword-celebrations. He finished with a quick-fire 67 dragging India to a competitive lead.
He bowled extremely well in the second innings but was unlucky to finish with just one wicket. But he once again gave nothing away, keeping things really tight.
His performance had a big impact in that Lord’s win.
Ishant Sharma – 7/74
It’s strange that the bowler who took a six-fer in the first innings didn’t take a wicket in the second innings and the bowler who couldn’t get a wicket in the first got a 7-fer in the second innings. Ishant Sharma produced one of the spells that will forever be etched in the history of Indian cricket.
In pursuit of 319, England were rocked early. They were reduced to 12/1 and then they slipped from 70/1 to 72/4. Ishant got two big wickets of Ian Bell and Alastair Cook. He got the former bowled with a nip-backer and then had the opener nicking to Dhoni behind the stumps.
But Joe Root and Moeen Ali shared an excellent 101-run stand and it looked like the game was drifting away from India’s grasp. But then came that Ishant Sharma spell where he bounced out everyone. He first got Moeen Ali on the last ball before lunch and broke the flourishing 101-run stand. And then the short-ball carnage continued after lunch as well. Ishant kept bowling bouncers and England kept trying to pull or hook and kept getting out. From 173/4, England were bowled out for 223 and India won the Test match. Ishant Sharma was the Man of the Match for his spell in the second innings which blew away England completely.
That Lord’s victory in 2014 was India’s first at the venue after 28 years and it was an overseas win after 1124 days.