While it is true that England did not go into the Lord's Test in a great frame of mind considering their humble recent form, it is equally true that the Test provided the hosts with a great opportunity to resurrect themselves. Unlike Trent Bridge, they had no reason to complain about the surface. It was a ideal one with a lot of grass on it for their pacers to exploit. Also, England's bowlers got the best conditions to bowl on. They had a fresh surface against an Indian batting outfit that, despite all its gifts is still pretty inexperienced. But, England blew away what can be best described as a golden opportunity.
The opening day of the Test was going to be pivotal to how the Test eventually panned out, and that's how things ended up being. Considering the conditions that were on offer England should never have allowed India to get close to 300, more so after they had claimed the first seven wickets rather cheaply. Although Ajinkya Rahane got a fantastic century, some of the tactics by England's bowlers were baffling, which eventually cost them the dearly. With the ball moving around, England should ideally have pitched the ball up in the right areas. Instead, they bowled short, and were made to pay for the same.
England's batting effort was even more disappointing. They needed a couple of their senior players to stand up and absorb the pressure. However, that wasn't to be the case. Over the last year, the poor form of their three experienced batsmen -- Cook, Bell and Prior -- have hurt England in a big manner. The same story was repeated in the Lord's Test. While Prior has decided to take a break following an extended lean spell, England's fortunes would continue to hinge on Cook and Bell. Unless, they find form soon, it is difficult to see England putting up big scores in the coming Tests as well.
There were a few positives for England apart from the usual impressive James Anderson bowling display. Liam Plunkett, who was under fire coming into the series following his poor display at Trent Bridge came up with a fine bowling effort to trouble the best of Indian batsmen. He discovered the virtue of pitching the ball up. Even with the bat, it was his assured knock that gave England the first innings lead. If he can remain consistent, Plunkett can prove to be a good foil for Anderson and Stuart Broad.
The best phase for England in the Test was definitely when Joe Root and Moeen Ali were thwarting the Indian bowlers and hunting down the target. Had the partnership carried on for a few more overs, India's bowlers could have panicked. Inexplicably, it was England who panicked. While Ali got a well directed short ball to be dismissed, the rest played some bizarre strokes to get out. It was rather surreal, as one after the other the English batsmen kept finding the fielders with precision. In a way, it was representative of England's muddled mindset at Lord's.
--By A Cricket Analyst