But there were sub-plots too. It was Duncan Fletcher's 100th Test as a coach, and the possibility of Sachin Tendulkar getting his 100th international century loomed large. As far as India were concerned though, the Test got off to an anticlimactic start with England largely untroubled at the end of first day's play after being put into bat. The score read 127/2 in 49.2 overs after rain kept hampering proceedings, and Zaheer Khan limped off with a hamstring injury in the second last over of the day to make matters worse for India.
Riding on Kevin Pietersen's first century at home in three years, England consolidated their innings on Day 2 and declared on 474/8 with Pietersen unbeaten on 202. India resumed batting on Day 3 after seeing off six overs of the new ball the previous day, but kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were all out on 286 in the last session. Tendulkar was dismissed on 34 by Stuart Broad and apart from Rahul Dravid, who was the last batsman standing on 103 off 220 balls, no Indian batsman crossed the score of 50.
Leading by 193 runs going into the fourth day, England were troubled by Ishant Sharma who ripped through the middle order, dismissing Jonathan Trott (22), Kevin Pietersen (1), Ian Bell (0) and Eoin Morgan (19) to give India some hope. However, the number 7 and 8 pair of Matt Prior and Stuart Broad put up a 162 run partnership, taking England's score from 107-6 to 269-6 before captain Andrew Strauss announced the declaration.
With 458 runs to chase, India started Day 5 on 80/1 with Rahul Dravid (who had opened with Abhinav Mukund) and VVS Laxman on the crease. But India were reduced to 142/4 by lunch with Dravid, Laxman and Gambhir all back in the pavilion. India lost the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar who was dismissed for 12 by James Anderson in the middle session. Play resumed on 218/5 after Tea with MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina on the crease, but India's slender hopes of saving the Test match were dashed as they lost the next 5 wickets for 43 runs, England winning the 2000th Test by 196 runs.
Interestingly, while there was a gap of 107 years between the first and 1000th Test, it took only 27 years for the next 1000 to be played, showing how much the game has grown in the 20th and 21st centuries.
First Published: July 25, 2018, 1:15 PM IST