Birmingham: As far as batting is concerned, it was nothing more than a team versus an individual in the first Test between England and India at the Edgbaston Cricket ground here on Saturday, which England dramatically won by 31 runs.
The team was England and the individual was none other than Indian captain Virat Kohli who accumulated a total of 200 runs in both innings (149 and 51) while the remaining team scored 236 runs in the match.
It would have been highly depressing for Kohli who kept fighting singlehandedly against a formidable bowling unit. In the first inning, none of the Indian batsmen could touch the 30-run mark while in the second inning, Hardik Pandya managed to cross it but could only last till 31 runs.
Till the limited-over series were underway, a bunch of Indian batsmen, including Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik, were in great touch but as the format changed and all of them got exposed to Dukes Cricket ball, the things completely transformed and none of them except Virat Kohli was able to stand in front of their fiery spells.
Kohli completed yet another half-century before falling prey to an in-swinging delivery bowled by Ben Stokes. He scored 51 runs off 93 balls and stayed at the crease for 185 minutes. He smashed 4 boundaries during his inning.
Stokes did most of the damage on the fourth day picking up three of the five wickets fallen on the day. James Anderson began the attack and soon got the wicket of Dinesh Karthik who could only add two runs to his total.
Hardik Pandya stayed at the crease for 61 balls and added 31 runs with 4 boundaries and was the last batsman to depart.
Mohammed Shami fell without opening his account while Ishant Sharma scored 11 runs off 15 deliveries. Umesh Yadav remained unbeaten in the second inning also and faced 8 deliveries.
Stokes was the pick of the bowlers for England in the second inning getting four wickets for 40 runs in 14.2 overs. James Anderson and Stuart Broad picked up two wickets each while Sam Curran and Adil Rashid managed one scalp each.
Earlier, India finished Day 3 at 110/5 with skipper Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik (18) being at the crease. India required another 84 runs to win which they could not achieve eventually.
After bowling out the hosts for 180 in their second innings at tea, Indian batters once again failed in the second innings as apart from Kohli, no other batsmen stood up to the occasion and went back cheaply.
India’s star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who dismissed former skipper Alastair Cook for a duck on Thursday evening to leave the hosts reeling at 9/1, started off the proceedings on Friday and immediately succeeded in packing back an in-form Jennings, caught beautifully by Lokesh Rahul at second slip.
Struggling at 18/2, Root along with new man Malan played out Ashwin watchfully but the offie constantly kept asking questions before prevailing over the English captain.
Root fell while trying to pull Ashwin only to find the ball landing in the safe hands of Rahul at leg slip before Ishant joined the party in rocking the English line-up.
The lanky Delhi pacer first dismissed Malan caught by Ajinkya Rahane, before packing Bairstow and Stokes within a span of three balls.
While Bairstow fell to the safe hands of Shikhar Dhawan at second slip, one ball later Stokes was brilliantly caught by skipper Virat Kohli at third slip as England started looking down the barrel at the break and could only manage to swell their second innings lead to 99 runs at lunch.
The second session saw England only managing to add another 74 runs, thanks to Sam Curran’s sensational 63 off 65 deliveries, even as pacer Ishant Sharma (5/51) continued with his fine rhythm to trouble the lower batting order of the hosts.
England lost Jos Buttler (1) in the second ball of the session. The right-handed batsman couldn’t handle a delivery from Ishant Sharma, who picked his fourth wicket. Buttler provided a thin top edge which went to the hands of wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik.
Afterwards, 20-year-old Curran and Adil Rashid (16) tried their best in a 48-run stand for the eighth wicket. Paceman Umesh Yadav rattled the stumps of Rashid, who survived 40 deliveries.
Curran stood out as he took the attack to the opposition bowlers by going after them. He was not even afraid of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, whose venomous spin fell the top three English batsmen.
Curran did get some help from Stuart Broad, who scored 11 off 28 deliveries. The youngster continued his assault on the Indians. India saw a couple of edges not getting into the hands of the fielders.
Left-hander Broad could only edge an away moving ball from Ishant as it landed in the hands of Shikhar Dhawan at first slip.
Then, Curran’s innings ended when he cut off a short and wide delivery from Umesh that went into the hands of Karthik, bringing an end to the second innings of England, who have a 13-run lead after posting 287.
In the third session, India came to chase 194, but English bowlers made it difficult for the batsmen right from the start as the hosts started pressurizing the Indian batters.
The success came in the sixth over when India’s Murali Vijay (6) was dismissed by pacer Stuart Broad. In the very next over Shikhar Dhawan (13) was also sent packing by Broad.
Lokesh Rahul (13) also failed as he was dismissed by Ben Stokes when scoreboard was reading 46.
With three batsmen in dug-out, it was all dependet on Kohli but lack of support costed India in the last session. Ajinkya Rahane (2) and Ashwin (13) were also sent back to the pavilion cheaply.
The scoreboard was reading 78/5 when Karthik joined hands with Kohli. The duo played sensibly and helped India end the day’s play without losing anymore wickets.
For England, Broad took two wickets while James Anderson, Stokes and Curran chipped in with one wicket each.
Earlier on Day 2, India wrapped up the proceedings on a high note picking up the wicket of Cook and giving away a lead of only 22 runs.
Virat Kohli notched up a brilliant 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.