Choice of game
For all sports fans, there are specific moments and matches, which take us back in time. Almost 16 years ago to this day, I was in a semi-deserted living room of a student accommodation at Margaret St, Binghamton, in upstate New York. The two individuals left there on a crisp Saturday morning believed and willed on a pair of never-say-die youngsters, Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh, who took India to the famous NatWest Series final win. Never one to pass off on a historical milestone, I jumped on the chance to watch this game.
While Joe Root bossed England's batting, David Willey's innings put enormous scoreboard pressure on India. But the efforts of Moeen Ali in slowing down the momentum of the Indian innings played a vital role in the result. His initial five-six overs with an economy rate around three firmly put doubts in the minds of the batsmen. Virat Kohli's wicket was a result of that strangle and for the most part, settled the result.
The six by Eoin Morgan off Yuzvendra Chahal. It took off high and handsome and as it came down, I started to wonder if that would head on to the terrace of the visitors' dressing room or to the neighbouring stand with the bell. Thinking of it, has there ever been a recorded instance of a six hitting the bell on the full at Lords?
One thing I would have changed
Dinesh Karthik instead of MSD would have been a change in hindsight. But I continually wonder about what KL Rahul can bring to this India team, if he develops his wicketkeeping skills to the standards of that other Rahul.
Milestones and more
Being only the second player to achieve the unique double of 300 catches and 10,000 runs in ODIs, is a testament to MS Dhoni's longevity. It further underlines his achievements as a player, wicketkeeper and leader. It can be hoped that the ongoing debate about his crawl to the batting milestone either brings back the Dhoni of mid-2000s into action well before the World Cup or opens the doors for others.
The Indian fans were the majority on the day and were loud through the first session. Initial batting success by the Indian opening pair even got some "Ole ole Super India" songs going. As the second innings progressed, the English fans found their voice and it made for a fine finish in the stands.
Fancy dress index
Although Lord's and fancy dress don't gel, the fans nevertheless brought out their hats, headgear, flags, kids with their small banners, only to be taken away by the eagle-eyed security at the entrance. The recognisable Sudhir Gautam was allowed to enter with his face paint on. His day turned into a game of cat and mouse on the sidelines, as he displayed his full body paint during the first innings, which the ground security didn't accept. In his first game at Lord's, he was found sulking and hiding away from security at the back of the Mound Stand.
Shikhar Dhawan kept the crowds entertained during his stint fielding square of the wicket through England's batting. When India batted, Ben Stokes took over that position, but left after a few overs seemingly due to some banter by the Indian fans around his Kiwi roots, sheep etc. Jonny Bairstow swapped positions with him and quickly endeared himself to both sets of fans, by patiently signing autographs for kids, posing for selfies and some lovely interactions with the crowd. The result of a Mound Stand vote for popular player of the day would have been a mere formality.
As an Indian fan, the latter half of India's innings plummeted me to depths of despair and brought back dreadful memories of that India-West Indies Kanpur game in 1994. The lack of intent and belief was unfortunately not the right retirement tribute to Kaif. Defying the natural urge to chase in these conditions and also by tackling Kuldeep Yadav's bowling better than recent games, England re-affirmed their adaptability, showing they are rightfully prime contenders for the 2019 World Cup.
Marks out of 10
Eight. England's strategy and efforts ensured that ODIs are not quickly turning into bat-second-and-win affairs. How sad would all of us fans be, if ODIs become even more predictable? Oh and in case you were wondering, the living room at 45, Margaret St, was packed again with 30-plus loud individuals (including Karthi Sivakumar) by the time Kaif and Zaheer Khan ran those winning runs on that glorious day in 2002.