The axe dangles precariously over Cheteshwar Pujara as Jimmy Anderson had him steering an edge to leave India two down at the stroke of Lunch on day one of the Lord’s Test. India’s middle-order bulwark hasn’t crossed fifty in his last ten innings and could well make way for either of Mayank Agarwal, Suryakumar Yadav, Abhimanyu Easwaran or Hanuma Vihari if his willow continues to stay mum in the second innings.
KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma had constructed their second fifty-plus partnership in a row and the onus lay with Pujara to ensure the platform wasn’t laid to waste. But an uncharacteristic poke at a teaser in the fifth-stump channel sent him back for 9 as the senior pro’s barren run stretched further. Anderson has, in fact, had Pujara on toast, claiming his wicket an alarming nine times in Tests. The only batsman he has dismissed on more occasions is Peter Siddle, who has fallen prey 11 times to the master exponent of swing bowling.
Having lost two of their experienced campaigners in Rohit and Pujara, India would be wary of the shambolic collapse that transpired in the first innings of the Trent Bridge Test, wherein they squandered an advantageous position to slide from 97-1 to 205-7. Their hopes will rest with Rahul and Virat Kohli, who is due a captain’s knock after having bagged a golden duck in the series opener. It won’t be a smooth-sailing ride, though, as Anderson and Ollie Robinson bowl with their tails up in murky weather.