After England dominating the match for the first three days, nobody would have imagined the West Indies to make a match of it on day four and leave English fans wondering if their numero uno team can make it home. England made it home indeed, and with aplomb. Despite a few jitters, England won the first test, with 5 wickets in hand. Alistair Cook and Ian Bell came up with stable, resolute half centuries to steer their team to victory banks, giving England a 1-0 lead in the series.
The scoresWest Indies 243/10 & 345/10.
England 398/10 & 193 for 5 wickets.
Full scorecard : 1st test, Lord's, 2012.
England resumed Day 5 at 10/2 in the morning, with fans expecting a cracker on display. Those assuming England would cruise needed a reality check. Only three times have a team made 191 runs or more to win in the fourth innings at Lord’s. Back in 2000, England chased 191 to beat West Indies by two wickets. English fans were hoping for a repeat, albeit with lesser worries.
West Indies started well, by picking Trott with the team’s score on 23. Roach, who bowled brilliantly on day 4, got one to kiss Trott’s edge and skipper Sammy smartly caught it at second slip. Kevin Pietersen walked in next. He looked shaky right from the start and didn’t last too long. Debutant Shannon Gabriel took KP for 13, when he nicked it to keeper Ramdin. While the other end looked anything but solid, Cook was a picture of brilliance. Even a mid-wicket collision with Darren Sammy didn’t deter him. His focus was top draw and had a sharp eye on the eventual goal. Cook reached to his 50 with England 60 runs shy of the finish line.
Ian Bell, who walked in after Pietersen, was a bit scratchy and shaky at the start, but as the ball began to hit his bat more often, he began to grow in confidence. At 166, Bell made his half century, his second of the match and the writing was on the wall.
The hardworking Cook fell with England on 189 and the finishing touched were left to Bell and debutant Jonny Bairstow. Bell hit the winning runs and England came up trumps.
As mentioned at the start, England dominated this test on day 1, 2 and 3. They took 9 West Indian wickets on day 1, and cleaned up the Windies on the first ball of day 2. Stuart Broad was the hero, having picked up 7 wickets and getting his names written on both – bowling and batting – honours boards at Lord’s (broad had scored a century two years back against Pakistan and picked a 5 wicket haul).
England’s batting reigned on day 2, with captain Andrew Strauss ending an 18 month century draught and giving his team a 16 run lead over the Windies. Day 3 was marginally more ‘even stevens’ in terms of who dominated. The islanders managed to get 7 English wickets for 139 runs, but faltered themselves, losing as many as 4 wickets for just 120 runs.
Day 4 though, saw an amazing resurgence by West Indies. Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels put together a fantastic stand of 157 runs and keeper Dinesh Ramdin and skipper Darren Sammy pitched in with decent scores to give their side a decent 191 run lead. The lead wasn’t great, but gave the West Indian bowlers something to defend. Kemar Roach really bowled a blinder of a spell to take opener Andrew Strauss and night watchman James Anderson. However, in the end, it took application and patience from Alistair Cook and Ian Bell to guide England home.
After the match, West Indies’ captain Darren Sammy said, “We did a lot of good things and we need to look at them and repeat them more consistenly. We fancied our chances this mornign but once the hardness of the ball went away, it became much easier to bat. An experienced batting line-up like England's showed their class and saw them home.”
England Captain, an evidently joyous Andrew Strauss said, “We felt the wicket was pretty slow and flat. It looked a bit dicey at 40 odd for four but Alastair Cook and Ian Bell set about it in a very civilised manner and saw us home. It's been a tough Test match. We had to dig deep but when you have to dig deep it makes it even more satisfying when you get over the line. It was lovely to score that hundred and when you do that in a winning cause it makes it all the more special.”
England walk into the second test at Trent Bridge with a 1-0 lead and a lot more confidence than the visitors.