1st Test England v India at Edgbaston August 1-5.

1st Test England v India at Edgbaston August 1-5.

Neil Whitaker reports

Day 1

RAVI  Ashwin took four wickets for 60 on the first day of the first Specsavers Test at Edgbaston as India ended the day on top.

Keaton Jennings said: “I think Ashwin is a very good bowler and puts the ball in good areas.”

At tea there was no hint of the drama that the evening session bring as England went into tea on 163 for three with Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in total command as the Indians looked out on their feet.  Root’s dismissal triggered a collapse by England as they lost six wickets for 67 runs in 22 overs.

Yet again Root failed to turn a fifty into a century.  He has now made 11 fifties without making a century.  His last century for England was almost a year ago in the day/night Test against the Windies at Edgbaston.  During his knock he reached 6000 Test runs when he wafted at a wide one from Ashwin that raced to the third man boundary  and became the fastest to reach 6000 runs.  The England skipper was at the crease in the ninth over after  off spinner Ashwin was brought into the attack.  He bowled Alastair Cook with a classic off spinner’s that pitched on leg stump and hit the top of Cook’s off stump.

Following the departure of Cook, Jennings and Root dug in and saw England to lunch without losing a wicket.  In the eighth over after lunch Jennings, eight runs away from his first Test fifty in England, was distracted twice by pigeon at short leg.  He waved the pigeon  away but after moving a few steps the pigeon was still in his eyeline, Root managed to get the pigeon further away then Jennings played on to Shami’s next delivery.

Jennings said: “The pigeon was not to blame for my dismissal.  I was not distracted by it you have to refocus and we all have our own processes for preparing for each ball.  It just happened to be the ball that I got out to.”

India should have got rid of Jennings early in his innings.  On nine he was squared up by Ishant Sharma and edged it to Ajinkya Rahine at fourth slip who spilled the chance despite getting both hands to it and being Virat Kohli’s catch.

Jennings still to hit a Test fifty in England must have nervous because in his 20’s he had a rash drive at Mohammed Shami with no feet movement and luckily didn’t get  an edge to the ball. 

Jennings said: “We have got nearly 300 on the board and we won’t know what a good score is until both sides have batted but from 200 four three it’s a missed opportunity. I thought Root played fantastically well and from batting with him he has taught me a lot about batting.”

Another England player with a question mark about his England career is Dawid Malan.  When Ashwin was brought back into the attack he charged down the wicket, missed the ball and India reviewed it but the replay showed it to be missing.

But India didn’t have to wait long before they had  Malan back in the hutch.  In the next over Malan was caught on the crease to Shami, hit on the pads and was given out leg before.  Root indicated that it was going down leg so Malan reviewed it and it was umpires call.

It was fitting that on Yorkshire that two Yorkshireman should share 104 partnership. But the partnership was nearly broken on 31.   Root cut Umesh Yadav through point and raced as he reached the bowlers end he turned for a second stopped and nearly sold Bairstow down the river but luckily Bairstow made his ground.

Bairstow whipped Ashwin to the mid wicket boundary to bring up the England 150. Twice Bairstow edged Pandya  wide of the slips to the third man boundary, after the second boundary Kohli brought in a fourth slip but it was a case of closing the stable door after the horse had bolted.

After Bairstow had flashed and missed at Shami, Root had a world with Bairstow which resulted in Bairstow getting  off strike with a sharp single.  Bairstow ended the over with a streaky boundary through where fourth slip should have been.

Bairstow reached his fifty with an on drive off Hardik Pandya which raced to the boundary and the next ball Bairstow drove Pandya off the back to the cover boundary.

The hundred partnership with a boundary off thick edge from Bairstow off Ashwin. He turned the next ball to mid wicket and set off for a single. As Bairstow and Root raced between the wickets they must have thought that the ball had gone past Kohli because they both turned for a second.  Ashwin let Kohli’s throw hit the stumps and ran Root out. 

Jennings added: “That’s cricket, you are always going to get mix up’s.”

Three overs the departure of Root, Bairstow played a loose shot at one that came back in at him from Yadav and played.  England lost their third wicket in 13 balls when Jos Buttler played around a straight ball from Ashwin and was leg before for a duck.

Ashwin got his third wicket when Ben Stokes played back to a short ball, got a leading edge to give Ashwin a simple return catch.

The man who many experts think shouldn’t be playing in the Test for England Adil Rashid  hit consecutive boundaries off Ashwin.  The first he was beaten and edged it to the boundary and the second he pulled to the mid wicket boundary.  But on unlucky 13 he was caught on the crease to Sharma and the Indians went up for leg before only for umpire Chris Gaffaney to give him not out. India reviewed it and Gaffaney had to change his decision.

England lost their ninth wicket when Stuart Broad played back to a quicker ball from Ashwin and was plum leg before.  In the final over of the Dinesh Karthik dropped Sam Curran off Shami as he dove in front of first slip.

Day 2

A BRILLIANT captain’s innings of 149 from Virat Kohli pulled his side back into the first Test after half of his side had been dismissed for 100.

Kohli’s 149 was the second highest score by an Indian captain in England. Kohli made England pay for dropping him not once but twice.  On 21 Kohli edged James Anderson to Dawid Malan at second slip who dropped it.  It went at a comfortable height for Malan but he might have seen Keaton Jennings in his eyeline as he dived to his left at third slip.  

After that drop of Kohli, Hardik Pandya got his second life at the beginning of the next over when he edged Ben Stokes to Alastair Cook at first slip. But the former England captain spilled the chance.

Kohli got his second life just on 52 when he drove Stokes but Malan at second slip couldn’t take the catch in his outstretched right hand.

Sam Curran said: “No means to drop catches so you can’t dwell too much on them.”

When Ishant Sharma was the ninth out India were 70 behind but with last man Umesh Yadav they added 67  in and Umesh Yadav only scored one of them.

England thought they had him in third over after tea when Kohli walked across his stumps to Anderson and was hit on his pads.  Umpire Chris Gaffaney turned the appeal down but England reviewed it but the replay showed it to be missing easily.

Kohli reached his century with a late cut off Stokes to the point boundary.  It was his 22nd Test century, fourth against England and 15th as captain.  After he reached his

Century he gave a batting masterclass as he batted the England attack into the ground.  Joe Root could not prevent the flood of runs.  Kohli pulled a long hop from Adil Rashid over long on for a six to take him to 149.  He  cut the next ball to Stuart Broad at backward point.

Until the evening session England had dominated the day. Surrey’s 20 year old Curran took three wickets in eight balls and finished with four for 74.  When the Indian openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan brought up their fifty partnership in the 13th over England were desperate as the Indian openers stroked the ball around Edgbaston.  They thought that they were in four a long day, so they asked umpire Gaffaney to change the ball.  He refused and it turned out to be the best thing that happened to England as India went on to lose five wickets for 50 runs in 16 overs.

England wanted the ball changing because it wasn’t swinging but umpire Gaffaney refused the India lost three wickets in eight balls. India lost their first wicket when Vijay was trapped on the pads by an inswinger from Curran.  Umpire Aleem Dar gave him not out and with England desperate for a wicket Root asked Curran if they should review it. With England already losing a review didn’t want to commit himself, Root went for a review and it showed to be hitting leg stump. It was India’s first opening partnership against England in England since 2011 when Abhinav Mukund and Gautam Gambhir put on 63.

Two balls later KL Rahul tried to drive Curran but he he a thick inside edge and lost his leg stump.

Dhawan was squared up by Curran and edged it just wide off Jennings at third slip and the ball raced to the boundary.  Two balls later Curran got his third wicket in eight balls when Dhawan was stuck on the crease and he edged it to Malan at second who made the catch look easy.

Curran added: “It was a pretty special day for me with the ball but I can’t remember too much about the wickets. It was. A big plus for us that we bowled them out  for less than our score, it’s going to be a big day three.  We were glad to get them at 100 for five but Kohli batted well with the tail. Today numbers 9,10 and 11 are no walkovers, they can all bat.

It’s been a good wicket. There  is  something for the bowlers and something for the batsmen if the bowlers miss their line. It’s a wicket  where the bowlers always feel in the game. We have to bat big tomorrow and put them under pressure in the fourth innings.

It’s been a great learning curve me, its. A step up from county cricket and I ‘ve got to do what I’ve been doing in county cricket.”

Dhawan was lucky to survive until the 16th over.  On six he got an inside edge to Broad and with the ball rolling on to his leg stump he managed to flick the ball away without stepping on his stumps.

Curran got his fourth wicket when after swinging the ball away from the right handers got a yorker to swing back in at Pandya and hit him on his boot.  After reviewing it Pandya was back in the hutch.

In the first hour after lunch England had India on rack as Kohli couldn’t get Anderson and Stokes, who became the eighth Englishman to take 100 Test wickets and 1,000 runs, away, which makes his innings even better. Ajinkya  Rahine was wrapped on the pads by Stokes in the third over after lunch and after much discussion, Jonny Bairstow was in favour of the review, England decided not to review it, but television replays showed it to be hitting.

Stokes got his 99th Test wicket when Rahine  was surprised by a short ball and tried to take his bat away  but couldn’t andthe ball flew to Jennings at third slip who had to move to his right.

Stokes will remember his 100 Test wicket for a long time.  He got one to come back in at Dinesh Karthik who drove at it and the ball went through the gate and knocked his middle stump out of the ground.  

Four balls later  the whole England team and their supporters went up for a leg before shout against Pandya.  Umpire Dar gave him out but Pandya more in hope than believe reviewed it.  He got his first life when the replay to the surprised everyone in the ground and showed it to be missing.

India’s innings looked when they lost three wickets for 48 runs.  First Ravi Ashwin was bowled through the gate.  Mohammed Shami went for a big drive off a short ball from Anderson edged it and Malan took a waiste height catch with both hands as he caught it he looked up to the sky.

Twice, Ishant Sharma was given out leg before off Anderson, twice he reviewed it and twice he was reprieved.  For the first since the last over before lunch,43 overs, Rashid was brought back into the attack and he got a wicket with his fourth ball when he trapped Ishant Sharma leg before with a googly.

With only four overs to face before the close and with a lead of 13 England lost their first wicket when Ashwin who opened from the Pavilion end pitched one one middle stump and hit Cook’s off.

In the morning it took India 10 balls to wrap the England innings up when Curran flashed at a  wide ball from Mohammed Shami without moving his feet and Karthik took an easy catch.  Shami finished with three for 64 but Ashwin could have got five wickets when Anderson misread his arm ball and got a couple.

Day 3

AN unbeaten 43 by Virat Kohli took this match into a fourth day but at lunch on the third day the match didn’t look like it would reach tea.

Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin took six wickets in the morning session to reduce England to 86 for six,  a lead of 99 but England were rescued by Sam Curran.

After his exploits with the ball yesterday, today he turned his attention to the bat and became the youngest English player to reach fifty.  When was last man out nibbling at Ishant Sharma and gave Dinesh Karthik an easy catch, Curran had taken England’s lead to 193.  When he came into bat he had seen England lose two wickets in three balls, then he had to have his lunch soon after lunch England lost their seventh wicket and a lead of 193 seemed a long way away.

But his eighth wicket partnership with Adil Rashid brought the crowd to life, suddenly they runs came easily and their confidence grew.  Curran even had the nerve to go down  the wicket to Ashwin  and launch him over his head for a six into the pavilion to take him into the forties. He smashed the next ball for a four over long on.

After his treatment of Ashwin, the off spinner was taking out of the attack and replaced by Ishant Sharma. Curran gave himself room  and flat batted Ishant Sharma over cover for a six to bring up his  fifty from 54 balls.

On 23 Curran threw everything at Mohammed Shami but top edged it.  Luckily for him it went through the hands of Shikhar Dhawan at first slip and raced to the boundary. In the next over he flashed Ishant Sharma to the third man boundary.

At 87 for seven it didn’t look like the match would last long after lunch but Curren was ably supported by Rashid as they added 48 for the eighth wicket. Like Curran, Rashid also had a live.  On 13 he drove Umesh Yadav  straight to Dhawan at first slip but was put off by stumper Karthik who shaped to go for it and Dhawan dropped the chance.

After a 20 minute break for bad light England only added four before they lost their eighth wicket.  Umesh Yadav bowled three outswingers  to Rashid then brought the next one back in and with Rashid caught on his crease he lost his off stump.  With Curran, Rashid added 48 for the eighth wicket in 14 overs.

James Anderson said: “He’s a really impressive lad, he knows his game and he knows how to set batsmen up. People have said that he will be a top six batsman.”

After his 48 partnership with Rashid, Curran was then involved in a 

partnership of 41 in seven overs  with Stuart Broad.  The partnership was broken when Ishant Sharma squared him up and Broad edged him to Dhawan at first slip.

Needing 194 to win Vija on one pushed at Anderson and the edge flew to Malan at second slip and he dropped it. But it didn’t prove too expensive, in the next over he shouldered arms to Broad to one that nipped back and was plum leg before.

In his next over Dhawan drove at Broad but edged it to Bairstow. Rahul and Kohli silenced the crowd with a stand of 24 in seven overs and it was Stokes who broke the partnership. He brought the ball back in at Rahul but the with late movement he found the edge of Rahul’s bat and gave Bairstow an easy catch.

With the light getting worse Curran hit Kohli on the pads and appealed, umpire Gaffaney turned the appeal down.  England desperate to get rid of the Indian skipper reviewed it and the replay showed it to be going over.

Curran got back into the action and Rahine got a thick under edge to Bairstow but umpire Gaffaney was unsure about whether it had carried but the replay showed it had.

Ashwin walked down the pitch to Anderson and edged him to Bairstow,  Ashwin looked surprised to be given out but didn’t review it.  England started the day with nine wickets in hand but in the fifth over of the day Keaton Jennings pushed forward at Ashwin who took the shoulder of his bat and at second slip took the catch.

Worse was to follow for when Joe Root turned Ashwin  off his legs to Rahul at leg slip and Root was aghast with what he he had done and pout his hand on his head.  The England skipper had opened the door for India, he knew it and trudged off slowly back to the dressing room.

Jonny Bairstow repeated the shot to his first ball but this time Rahul couldn’t take the catch.

Dawid Malan who is desperate to get a big score got off the mark with a confident drive for three.  On 17 he edged Ishant Sharma to Dhawan at first slip and Malan set off to walk but Dhawan signalled he wasn’t sure it had carried.  Malan was reprieved by the television replay.

But he didn’t capitalise on that good fortune. Three runs later he was opened up by Sharma bowling round the wicket and he tried to turn him to leg but the ball swing away.  Ishant Sharma found his edge and left the rest to Rahane  at gully.

Ishant Sharma  took three wickets in his seventh over which was interrupted by the lunch interval.  England lost two wickets before lunch.  Bairstow edged Ishant Sharma to Dhawan at gully who took a low catch then two balls later Stokes edged Ishant Sharma but this Kohli at third slip took the catch. Ishant Sharma got his third wicket of the over with the second ball after lunch Buttler  up on his toes top edged him to Karthik.

Anderson added: “ We need five wickets fairly quickly tomorrow otherwise they will get the runs.  We have to give it all we’ve got and leave nothing out there, it could be over in 25 overs. S We could do something special tomorrow by winning this Test match.  It’s been an exciting and frustrating Test match at times and it has been great the way the momentum has shifted.”

Ishant Sharma said: : “Hopefully I will not be needed to bat tomorrow and that Kohli will do the job. We always want to do something special for India

Day 4

IT took England 90 minutes on the fourth morning to take the four remaining wickets they needed to the first Specsavers Test match at Edgbaston by 31 wins their 10th victory at their venue in the last 16 matches their.

Joe Root said: “ It was a fantastic team performance, I told the boys before the start of play that if they stayed calm then we would get our rewards.  I am proud of this group of players and I am looking forward to Lord’s.  When you play in a game as close as this you’re desperate to come out on top.  We have got a few things wrong in this game and still won that gives us confidence going into the next match.”

James Anderson got the vital breakthrough in the first over of the day when Dinesh Karthik edged him to Dawid Malan at second slip who this time made no mistake and took a low catch.  Two balls earlier Karthik had edged Anderson through the slips for a  couple.

They could have lost their second wicket of the morning shortly after when Hardik Pandya middled Stuart  Broad to Anderson at mid on, set off for a single and just beat his throw.  Pandya had another narrow escape  when on five he was opened up by Anderson but failed to find Pandya’s edge.

It looked like India were going to get their target in singles then Pandya drove Broad down the ground for the first four of the morning he repeated the treatment in the next over.  He drilled the next ball to mid wicket boundary.

England got the vital of India skipper Virat Kohli in the 11th over of the morning.  Ben Stokes replaced Anderson at the Birmingham end and with his third ball he trapped Kohli leg before and the crowd in the Hollies stand waved him goodbye.  

Earlier  Kohli reached his inevitable fifty when he turned Anderson off his hips to the fine leg boundary from 88 balls and included only four fours.

Root added: “Stokes wants to involved in the big moments of the game.  He is dedicated to this team and group and he is a big part of our dressing room.”

Three  balls after Kohli’s dismissal Mohammed Shami had to play at a straight ball and he edged it to Jonny Bairstow. 

With two wickets needed the were crowd sitting on the edge of their seats, Stokes found the shoulder of Ishant Sharma’s bat but the ball ballooned over the slips to the third man boundary to take the runs required to 43.  Root brought on Adil Rashid to try and get a breakthrough by tempting the tailenders and the Yorkshire leg spinner struck in his first over. Ishant Sharma unsure how to play him came forward and was hit on the pads by Rashid’s googly but was given not out, England reviewed it and the replay showed it to be hitting.

With only one wicket Pandya had to take most of the strike and protect Umesh Yadav from Rashid.  When he faced Stokes, Root offered him singles by spreading the field but Pandya refused them.  With 40 required Pandya  played five dot balls to Stokes then smashed the last ball of the over through mid off to the boundary.

Stokes took the final wicket when Pandya pushed at him and edged him to Alastair  Cook at slip.

Man of the match Sam Curran said: “Yesterday was just one of those days and it was a bit surreal. I am still trying to take it all in.”

India’s Ravi Ashwin said: “It was a tough pitch to bat on but it’s important that we learn from this match and take it to the next.  It’s a long Test series so you can’t dwell on the defeat to much that’s what winning sides do.  We were always in the game and you expect the batters to get a ball with their name on it. I thought that Pandya would hit a few big shots we were still in the game.  To win a Test series in England will be something special.’

Scorecard