Liam Plunkett’s toils on a generous Lord’s pitch typified England’s troubles on day one of the second Test, according to Sky Sports’ David Lloyd.
After Alastair Cook won the toss, England failed to make the most of a green track that offered plenty of assistance, missing a host of chances as India reached lunch with just two wickets down.
Cook’s bowlers responded in the afternoon session with James Anderson, who ended the day with 4-55, leading the charge. But in the final session they could not break the Indian resistance as the tourists went from 147 for seven to 275 for nine at the close of play.
Ajinkya Rahane scored a terrific hundred but while Lloyd praised the Indian batsman, he blamed England’s poor bowling for their failure to finish off India’s innings. And he picked out Plunkett, who took one wicket and went for 55 runs from 15 overs, as embodying England’s baffling tactics and wayward execution.
“They would expect to finish teams off, they would want to finish teams off but they bowled poorly,” Lloyd told Sky Sports. “Anderson did not bowl after the 60th over but he bowled so much before then so he must have been spent and the captain may have been saving him for the new ball.
“There was a spell from Plunkett that was really poor and there was no instinct to take him off and may be bowl a slower bowler like Moeen Ali. On the last ball, the day finishes with nine wickets down and Stuart Broad just kicked the ball away. The frustration is there. They should be bowling teams out.
“It was 145 for seven and Moeen Ali was bowling nicely, having a nice long bowl, and with the field set. Now you can’t take any liberties. The valve was released when Plunkett came on. He started going round the park. Get him off. Get Moeen Ali back on and calm the game down. But England stuck with Plunkett around the wicket banging it in. It just didn’t seem to make any sense to anybody other than the England team as to why they are doing this.”
Lloyd added: “They had a poor session in the morning, they got it back together in the afternoon and then they have had a poor evening session. India fought really well. I was very impressed with Rahane – a wonderful innings. He got his name on the board and Kumar supported him.”
Not his fault
Despite Cook’s failure to take off Plunkett when he was being plundered all around Lord’s, and a tendency to plug holes in the field that had already been exposed, Lloyd insisted that the captain should not shoulder full responsibility for a disappointing day for England.
“I will protect him ever so slightly here, Alastair Cook, because he won the toss with conditions great for his bowlers and it is over to them,” he said. “Now they should hold their hands up and say that they didn’t get it right, which is not his fault. He has done his bit. But he does tend to follow the ball, though.”
Rahane hit 103 from 154 balls in a terrific rearguard innings that helped ensure England will have to take to the field at Lord's on Friday in search of the final Indian wicket, before contending with the testing batting conditions.
The Indian batsman impressed off his back foot especially, making a mockery of England's, and Plunkett's in particular, attempt to hit him with the short ball. And former India batsman Sourav Ganguly hailed his "exceptional" innings.
"He is a very good back-foot player," he said. "Yes, England bowled short to him; bowled very poorly to him after tea. But quite unlike any other Indian batsman he is very strong off the back foot and this was one innings he will cherish for a long time. He will get a few more hundreds for India."