Chris Woakes's first Test hundred puts England in full control against India

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Chris Woakes's first Test hundred puts England in full control against India

The Observer England v India 2018 Chris Woakes’s first Test hundred puts England in full control against India • India 107; England 357-6
• Woakes shines in partnership with Bairstow at Lord’s

Chris Woakes
Chris Woakes celebrates reaching his century at Lord’s as England recovered in style from an early wobble. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian

The most timely of interventions from Chris Woakes kept England in charge of the second Test. The Warwickshire all-rounder purred to his maiden Test century in just 129 balls, which was rapturously received on the England balcony and everywhere else in the ground. Alongside Jonny Bairstow, Woakes demonstrated that it was possible for batsmen to prevail at Lord’s, after all; their partnership of 189 enabled England to build a formidable lead â€" currently 250 â€" that surely ensures victory provided the weather cooperates.

When Woakes first played for England in the Oval Test of 2013 against Australia he batted at six. Here he was at seven yet, on an unusually dry day, no one above him batted with more assurance. Given the complications surrounding the engine room of the England team it is extremely handy that Woakes should re-establish his credentials as an all-round international cricketer upon his return to the side. Three days ago the England set-up was agonising whether to make Moeen Ali or Woakes their 12th man and the damp weather probably clinched their preference for another pace bowler. Now there is no way Woakes can be omitted from this team whatever the conditions.

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When Woakes joined Bairstow there was a danger that England might squander their brilliant position: 131 for five already meant a lead of 24 but India were still in the game. By the time this pair was parted England were so far in front that Joe Root could start contemplating a weather-induced declaration. While Bairstow scurried away with increasing authority after an edgy start, Woakes purred from the start of his innings. At last â€" with the advent of Sam Curran and the restoration of Moeen â€" England may have the sort of selection problem they crave in their Test team.

Batting was easier than on Friday, though never entirely straightforward. When England were bowling the ball was swinging treacherously, something which the Indian bowlers were unable to emulate on Saturday. But there was some uneven bounce and movement off the pitch for the pace bowlers, especially while the ball retained some hard ness and the Indian pacemen some gas in their tank. Five batsmen fell before reaching 30 to demonstrate the challenges, after which run scoring became a breeze. Virat Kohli ran out of bowlers, especially when it became obvious that Kuldeep Yadav, a wish-fulfilment selection, was something of a liability.

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India stayed in the game throughout the first 35 overs, picking up wickets just as the England innings looked set to accelerate. It quickly became apparent that the Indian bowlers were not finding that late swing. Even so, Mohammed Shami conjured just enough from around the wicket for Keaton Jennings to be lbw and for England to waste a review. Then Alastair Cook, who had looked in fluent form, attracted another fine delivery, not from Ravi Ashwin this time but Ishant Sharma and he edged to the keeper. This is not just an unlucky streak, however; at his very best Co ok found a way to combat those good deliveries.

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So Ollie Pope did not have to wait long for his first Test knock. He clipped his first ball confidently to square leg but straight to the fielder; his second sped in a similar direction but this time it went to the boundary. Pope timed the ball sweetly and looked composed but not for very long. On 28 he was struck on the pad by a delivery from Hardik Pandya. Pope is an Oliver unacquainted with reviewing the situation but after advice from a sympathetic Joe Root at the other end he asked for a consultation with the third umpire. Thus England had lost both their reviews inside 22 overs.

Hardik Pandya F acebook Twitter Pinterest
Hardik Pandya celebrates taking the wicket of Ollie Pope. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

Soon after Root himself was lbw to a ball from Shami that kept low. Jos Buttler, who has now graduated to being a specialist number six and second slip, flickered before he too fell to Shami. Buttler has developed a shuffle to the off-side as a trigger movement, which encourages him to aim through the onside. This is fine when he is in princely form, as he was at the start of the summer; otherwise it is a risky method.

Meanwhile, Bairstow busily accrued runs but not always from the middle of the bat. But the problem for Kohli was that he was running out of overs from his two pacemen. Pandya, only a semi-pro at this level, did his best, while Ravi Ashwin was accurate enough but unable to find the same amount of turn as at Edgbaston. Just occasionally Kuldeep, at a gentle pace found turn, but he was so inaccurate that Kohli could not trust him for long.

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The partnership prospered with very few alarms. Woakes reached his century with a pull shot to mid-wicket off Pandya and was warmly applauded by a full house, which was prepared to do the same for Bairstow. However, they were denied that opportunity. On 93 Bairstow drove away from his body and Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps dived to his right to hold a superb catch. But the sixth-wicket stand, the highest by England against India, had transformed the game.

Out came Sam Curran and 37 more runs were added swiftly as the skies darkened, whereupon the umpires took the players from the field, even though the multimillion pound floodlights were burning brightly â€" a decision greeted with more enthusiasm by the Indian fielders than the batsmen or those who had parted with £110 to watch this contest from the stands.

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Source: Google News India | Netizen 24 India

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