Yaseen Rana picks out five of the moments that mattered from Day Two of England v India at Edgbaston. And then one more, because it was just that good.
Curran’s on fire, India are terrified
After losing their last wicket in the second over of the day and India passing 50 for no loss with relative ease, England were in a bit of a pickle. India ran England’s attack into the dirt the last time these two sides met so England would have wanted to start well with the ball in more familiar conditions.
Enter Sam Curran.
The younger Curran brother, who only turned 20 earlier this summer, produced a spell of seam bowling reminiscent of the man, 16 years his senior, bowling at the other end. Bowling in the low 80s, pitching it up and swinging the ball both ways, it was the kind of spell that we have become so accustomed to seeing Anderson bowl for England.
England are still in the hunt two days into this Test match, but had it not been for Curran’s burst of three wickets (of India’s top three) in eight balls, the game could have looked very different.
Anderson defying the ageing process
Questions about how long Jimmy Anderson has left has a Test player have been asked for a while now, but at 36 he surely can’t have that many Tests left? And even if he does play, England would surely protect him right, bowling him in short bursts at the most opportune moments? Right? Right?
Wrong. Well according to Root and the man himself anyway, as, with England scenting early wickets, Anderson bowled 14 of the first 15 overs from his end, only taking a breather to allow Adil Rashid to whirl his arm over before Lunch.
Whilst he was wicketless in that spell, he tested the technique of the Indian batsmen the whole time. He was desperately unlucky not to have taken three wickets in that first spell, let alone just one. His peach to Ravi Ashwin later and in the day was just rewards for his efforts. He is still very much, even at 36, the leader of this England attack.
Stokes’ 100th Test wicket
After Curran’s game-changing spell in the morning and Anderson’s misfortune at the other end, England desperately needed a spell from Stokes to make the most of the swinging ball. Boy did he step up.
He bowled with sharp pace and prodigious swing. A handy combination.
His dismissal of Rahane came at a great time, just as he and Kohli were building a partnership whilst his wicket of Karthik, his 100th in Test cricket, was a beautiful peace of bowling, drawing the batsman forward and beating his inside edge. He was unlucky not to pick up more.
Two drops in two balls
The phrase bandied about by club cricketers everywhere of “one brings two here boys” came to fruition when Stokes took two wickets without conceding a run when the score was on 100. Not bad, you might think. Really though, it should have been “one brings four”.
With the score still on 100, Anderson drew an edge from Kohli straight into the hands of Malan at slip. Not a sitter, but you really expect those to be taken.
The very next ball Stokes found another Indian outside edge, this time with a proper snorter of a ball. This was an easier chance, but Cook never looked catching it.
England could have had India 100/6 and Kohli back in the hut for not much. Instead, Kohli and Pandya added 50, before the former went on to make what may well prove a match-defining hundred.
Yes he should have been caught early in his innings and yes he played and missed a few times against Anderson, but who hasn’t?
His battle against Anderson was probably the highlight of the day and the fact Kohli survived for so long will encourage him. The luck he had will probably also encourage the English bowlers as this innings won’t truly dispel all the concerns people had about his ability against the swinging ball going into the series.
Still though, the way he marshalled the tail to eke out every possible run was textbook Kohli. The bloody-minded way he negotiated the England attack to keep India in this game was brilliant. A century when no other batsman passed 26 is no mean feat.
And one more…
A day that had thrown up so much drama and intrigue threw up one more twist late in the day. Ravi Ashwin, given the new ball in a daring move by Kohli, increased his psychological hold over Cook with another beauty.
It was almost a carbon copy of Cook’s dismissal in the first innings as the ball pitched on middle before turning past Cook’s half-hearted prod. It also just about gave India the advantage heading into day three.