Birmingham: Test Cricket is very unpredictable and so has been witnessed in the opening Test between England and India at the Edgbaston Cricket ground here, where former has given a solid 194-run target to the latter.
A magical over by Ishant Sharma put India right on top of the match with top six English batsmen back into the pavilion when there were just 86 runs on the board. Then arrived Sam Curran who played a flamboyant inning of 63 runs off only 65 balls with 9 fours and 2 sixes to get England out of trouble and put India under pressure.
He was the last man to depart for England which accumulated 180 runs in their second inning. England already had a 13-run advantage before the start of the inning after bundling up India for 274 runs, in reply to their first inning total of 287 runs.
England got off to a very disappointing start as both the openers, Alastair Cook (0 off 14) and Keaton Jennings (8 off 18), were back into the pavilion when there were just 18 runs on the board. In form skipper Joe Root also fell prey to some brilliance by Ravichandran Ashwin at the individual score of 14 runs off 35 balls.
Subsequently, Ishant Sharma took charge of Indian bowling and bagged four consecutive wickets in a short span of time.
Among his victims were DJ Malan (20 off 64), Jonny Bairstow (28 off 40), Ben Stokes (6 off 13) and Jos Buttler (1 off 2). Later he also picked up the wicket of Stuart Broad (11 off 28). Umesh Yadav also managed the wickets of Adil Rashid (16 off 40) and Sam Curran. Mohammed Shami remained wicket-less in his 12 overs.
Earlier, India ended the second day of first Test on a high note picking up the wicket of Cook and giving away a lead of only 22 runs.
Virat Kohli notched up a hundred to guide India to 274 all out in the first innings before leaving the hosts on 9/1 with a slender lead of 22 runs at stumps on the second.
Replying to England’s 287, Kohli, dropped twice by Dawid Malan off James Anderson, scored a gritty 149, his innings laced with 22 fours and a six, to enable the visitors trim the first innings deficit to 13 runs.
For the hosts, Sam Curran returned career’s best figures of 4/74 while pace spearhead Anderson (2/41), Adil Rashid (2/31) and Ben Stokes (2/73) accounted for the rest of the wickets.
The icing on the cake for India in the brief second innings spell was when offie Ravichandran Ashwin castled former skipper Alistair Cook for a duck in exact fashion like the first innings.
Cook was drawn forward as the ball pitched on middle stump to zip past him and hit the off stump. Keaton Jennings was not out on 5 at the close of play.
Earlier, resuming the third session 160/6 and still trailing by a good margin, Kohli continued his solo act after bringing up his half century just before tea albeit being grassed twice by Malan.
India lost Ashwin (10) just after the break, the 31-year old clean-bowled by Anderson who claimed his first wicket of the day.
Mohammed Shami (2) did not last long, Anderson taking his wicket too before Kohli upped the ante and stitched stands of 35 and 57 runs with tailenders Ishant Sharma (5) and Umesh Yadav (1 not out). From 182/8, the skipper dragged his team to 274.
Kohli, who exorcised the ghosts of the 2014 England tour, brought up his hundred by hitting Stokes for a four and roaring towards the stands to then kiss his wedding ring as wife Anushka Sharma watched from the stands.
From then on, he added the next 49 runs in brisk pace knowing they had only one wicket in hand.
Kohli finally fell to Rashid, cutting a short and wide delivery to Stuart Broad but the job was already done.
The worry for India would be that none of the other visiting batsmen reached the 30-run mark.
The day began with England managing to add just two runs to their overnight total of 285 runs in their first innings.
India needed just 10 balls on the second day to end England’s innings, that slipped from a comfortable 216/3 to 287.
Pacer Mohammed Shami, who started the proceedings along with Ashwin, got Curran (24) caught behind by wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik. Karthik had dropped Curran on the opening day off the same bowler.
India then squandered a watchful start to slip to 76/3 at lunch as Kohli remained undefeated with Rahane.
India got off to a near perfect start with the opening duo of Murali Vijay (20) and Shikhar Dhawan (26) putting on a 50-run stand.
But the introduction of Curran turned the tide in England’s favour. Curran’s three-wicket burst in eight balls reduced India to 59/3 in no time even as Rahane joined his captain to sneak in a few singles before heading for the break.
It was Kohli show from there on as he notched his 17th Test fifty off 100 balls but was dropped twice either side of his fifty.
India kept losing wickets with Karthik (0) and Pandya — who added 48 runs for the sixth wicket with his skipper — falling at regular intervals.