India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hailed his side’s determination in forcing the collapse of England, who faced new trouble yesterday when wicketkeeper Matt Prior withdrew for at least the rest of the season.
India head toward the third Test in Southampton on Sunday in a dominant position against a demoralized England — crushed by 95 runs at Lord’s on Monday.
Ishant Sharma, not the fastest bowler in world cricket and not renowned for his use of the short ball, bounced out a succession of England batsmen after Dhoni persuaded him to drop short.
The result was a devastating burst of 5-24 runs in 33 deliveries either side of lunch that led Sharma to finish with Test-best figures of 7-74. India ended a woeful sequence of 15 successive Tests without an away victory. England have now not won in 10 Tests.
“This is a result of hard effort... and it was fantastic to see the determination the guys showed,” Dhoni said. “It seems it will be my last at Lord’s, for sure... so it’s definitely memorable.”
Dhoni said Sharma needed some persuading of the plan the captain hatched in conjunction with India coach Duncan Fletcher, formerly in charge of England.
“To start with it was very difficult to convince him,” Dhoni said. “I set the field for him so that he doesn’t even think of bowling up — he is forced to bowl the length that I want him to bowl.”
The plan worked better than even Dhoni could have hoped for.
“He [Sharma] has the height so he can exploit the bounce and put pressure on batsmen and can add this to his armoury,” Dhoni said. “We have been trying to convince our bowlers to bowl a few bouncers.”
England captain Alistair Cook said he would not be quitting, despite the result.
However, Prior told his teammates in the dressing room that he would not be playing any more Tests this summer — which could effectively mean the end of his international career.
Prior, 32, said he needs time off to treat injuries, including an Achilles problem that will need surgery, which has hit his form.
“I’m not doing justice to myself and more importantly the team, and that is what matters first and foremost,” Prior said.
“I’ve always said as long as I can do my job I will manage the pain and get on with it, but it has now got to the point where I can’t do my job to the level I expect of myself,” the wicketkeeper added.
“It is a huge decision and not one I’ve taken lightly obviously, because I could have played my last game,” he said.
For Cook, the pain of a 10th straight Test without a win was compounded by two more low scores that meant the opener has now gone 27 innings without a Test hundred.