On the final day, England needed to defend their total with Chetehswar Pujara and Rohit Sharma at the crease and some world-class batsmen waiting in the dressing room to push for the win, the first Test at Trent Bridge was beautifully poised for a great finish. Anything could have happened on a final deck that gave evidence of bounce and movement – sadly, it was the inclement weather that won the battle in the end.

The English captain Joe Root won the toss and decided to bat first despite knowing the fact, the deck would have enough for the competent Indian pace unit, who did not bother to drop Ravi Ashwin to allocate a place for an extra-pacer and Ravi Jadeja was the lone spinner. The omission of Ashwin was surprising, but the move of the Indian think tank proved worthy enough as the pacers had their say on Day 1.

Jasprit Bumrah struck first and then what could one witness the struggle of a fragile batting line-up, apart from the classy Joe Root, against a force, which was in a mood to hunt its prey.

India took the last seven England wickets for 45 runs to bowl the hosts out for 183.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, the two senior bowlers in the absence of Ishant Sharma and Ashwin, took seven wickets between them in 37.4 overs. Once again, Joe Root looked like a level above his batting teammates, scoring 64 assured runs off 108 balls in an innings that went at 2.78 an over.

The Indian reply to the English total was steady – Rohit Sharma was calm and composed – something with which the cricket followers are not familiar. Rohit relied more on leaving the ball as much as possible and execute shot according to its merit while at the other end, KL Rahul – who changed his batting technique which was about backward and across trigger movement that helped for better weight distribution – countered the challenge of English new ball bowlers with authority.

Ollie Robinson was using his height very well and extracted extra-bounce.

At the stroke of lunch of Day 2, Robinson dished out short-pitch stuff towards the shoulder of Rohit, who shrugged off his composure and went for the hook and walked for the pavilion.

After lunch, the great James Anderson waved his magic!

Post lunch, Anderson and Robinson found more menace from the conditions. There seemed a shift in the attack: towards the stumps. Pujara survived an lbw decision when padding up by winning a review on height, but Anderson soon caught up with him.

In this spell, Anderson tried the inswinger more often by switching the shiny side to the outside. The one that got Pujara looked like just that: a testing inswinger, pitching full and within the stumps, making him defend, but upon pitching it assumed fangs, seaming the other way, squaring Pujara up, and taking a faint outside edge. Everything about this delivery was so good it would possibly have got him lbw had he missed the edge.

Enters Virat Kohli!

In 2014, Anderson got Kohli out four times in just nine mistakes. In 2018 he induced 58 mistakes and two catchable edges from the bat of Kohli, but couldn’t dismiss him. Earlier this year, he drew the edge again, but they dropped Kohli off Anderson even in India. Four hundred and fifty-four balls since he last got Kohli out, 69 false responses and three dropped catches later, the 39-year-old Anderson ran in to resume one final contest with Kohli.

Kohli has not scored an international hundred since November 2019, but only recently has a slightly serious issue cropped up in his batting. He is possibly playing too much for the inswinger, just like he did in 2014 when he played away from the body too often, fearing that inswinger. Already this summer, Kyle Jamieson has got him out that way, but that is also the result of the lbws bowlers have been able to take off him by dragging him across.

With that in mind, Anderson chose the perfect ball to start off with. Once again he bowled with the shiny side outside, hoping this one goes in and tests how much Kohli is watching out for that inswinger. It swung in all right, and Kohli pressed forward to try to defend. It was wide enough to leave it alone, but it was also an inswinger first up, so it is not easy to judge what to leave.

Kohli had it covered in the air, but once again the ball pitched and seamed the other way to take a healthy edge and leave a packed Trent Bridge in frenzy.

Ajinkya Rahane ran himself out for five, leaving India at 112 for 4 and bringing out Rishabh Pant – who is known for his rush for adrenaline, but this time around, on Day 3, he was out early.

KL Rahul kept ongoing and he was well aided and supported by Jadeja, who notched up a wonderful half-century, and his sword-swinging-like celebration was a sight to watch. The Indian tail wagged and added more meat to the total and stretched the lead, which meant, England would need to bat very well.

England’s response was shaky.

England began Day 4 with 70 runs behind with all their wickets in hand, but it was believed they needed rain or Root to rescue their fledgling batting unit. The promised rain never arrived, but in the best batting conditions of the Test, Root batted with assured positivity to make sure England never went into a shell and put the pressure of runs on India. However, Dom Sibley, Dan Lawrence, and Jos Buttler gifted their wickets away to keep India in the contest by the time the new ball arrived. Bumrah blew them away with it.

In the morning, though, it was special bowling that brought Root to the crease. Mohammed Siraj continued his threat to left-hand batters, pitching in the blind spot on the middle and leg and then getting away movement to take the edge from Rory Burns. Bumrah then produced a beauty to Zak Crawley, pitching on a length, close to off, holding its line, taking the edge. India had taken two wickets in the first half-hour, and England were still 49 behind.

It was time for Root to show his class.

His skills were put into the greatest context during his partnership (worth 89 in 28.5 overs) with Dom Sibley. While Sibley’s crease occupation was valuable, you couldn’t help but admire how much easier the business of batting looked for Root. So vast is his range of stroke, so adaptable his feet and the angle of his bat, that he is rarely kept scoreless. He faced only two maidens in his entire innings – one of them during a nervous passage of play when he had 97 – and has a late cut which allows him to score from deliveries other players would look to leave well alone. Sibley made just 12 of their partnership.

But it was surely the drives, played off both front and back foot, which will linger longest in the memory. Certainly, they had a packed Trent Bridge purring in delight. The on-drive that brought the century was just a little reminiscent of the shot with which Sir Geoffrey Boycott reached his 100th first-class hundred.

The celebration was ecstatic and hinted how badly he and his team needed.

Root’s authority helped England to take the lead which the English bowlers could defend.


Stuart Broad chipped in with the wicket of Rahul and a fascinating final was on offer until rain spoiled everything.

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