Ind vs Eng: India need to avoid being sloppy on Lord's slope
Slight tilt in Lord's pitch is a crucial aspect that struggling Indian batsmen need to combat when they square off with England in second Test
One look towards the Lord's pavilion from the Nursery End of the ground and an aspect that immediately comes to your mind is the slope from the right (North) to the left (South). To be precise, the drop from one side to another is over eight feet. No other ground in the world is so peculiar. Many elite batsmen and bowlers have arrived at the erstwhile home of cricket and struggled to combat this slight tilt in the pitch.
Former England batsman-turned-selector James Taylor, in an online video, has suggested that it is vital for a batsman to understand his technique, so that he can formulate a method accordingly while batting at the Nursery or the Pavilion End. Four years ago, Virat Kohli was left stunned after he shouldered arms to a ball that jagged up against the slope. It would leave a scar in his mind for rest of the series. Kohli is already in a better state mentally this time around, but for the other Indian batsmen who have struggled in the first Test, the angle on the 22-yard-strip could be another dimension they must cope with.
Perhaps, that is the reason why there was so much focus on what guard each batsman took during the practice session yesterday. Head coach Ravi Shastri was hell-bent on knowing exactly where each batter stood, and even quizzed a couple of players on their stance. Batting coach Sanjay Bangar spent a couple of minutes with the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul, discussing the potential impact of the slope. The former all-rounder could be seen gesturing the angle with his hands and using it to flick the ball to the on-side.
Taylor, in his video, mentioned how he would shift his guard towards the off-side so that he could cover the ball moving downhill and use the movement to his advantage. Conversely, while batting from the Nursery End, he would make an effort to plant his front foot more down the wicket rather than across it.
Former England captain, Mike Gatting, who played for Middlesex for decades, was asked about the challenge the slope presented to batsmen, to which he stated: "The less you think about it, the better it is." Ricky Ponting, who was also present at Lord's for the MCC meeting yesterday, said: "You can feel it [slope] under your feet, but it was always best to ignore it rather than focus on it."
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