After the defeat at Lord’s England regrouped and thrashed India at Leeds by inflicting an innings defeat. Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat on a deck that was still spongy and required application in the first couple of sessions, but England cast a spell of brilliant swing bowling that shot the visitors out for 78 – ultimately, India never recovered from that shock.

Who else but James Anderson set the tone for England on the opening day of the Test match – the man is 39 years old but the way he is still hungry for wickets and making the ball talk, it seems, he has a lot of cricket left under his belt to glorify his illustrious cricketing career.

Anderson laid traps for KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara, which both of them failed to resist.

He bowled a string of inswingers at Rahul, all slightly short of a length, to get the batsman playing back slightly, defending balls in front of his stumps. Then he snuck in a full delivery outside off, which seamed slightly away off the seam, to take Rahul’s edge as he reached for it.

A similar ploy worked for Pujara as well, although Pujara’s was a poke rather than a big drive, the dismissal – edging an away-going delivery to the wicketkeeper.

For Kohli, Anderson plugged away in the channel, and then delivered a wobble-seam ball that pitched just outside off and moved away – Kohli venturing a big drive only to also be caught by Jos Buttler. He was out for 7 off 17, leaving India reeling while Rohit Sharma was attempting his best to save India from disgrace.

Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane played fifteen overs and gave the impression of a recovery, but it was an England attack that was in the mood to blow away the visitors.

Rahane edged Ollie Robinson behind on the penultimate ball before lunch ended what turned out to be India’s best partnership by far.

After lunch, Rishabh Pant was out to Robinson – again nicking behind (this was Buttler’s fifth catch out of five). A few overs later, Rohit’s patience ran out and he tried to pull a short ball from Overton over the leg side but managed only to bunt it to a catching mid-on. Next ball, Mohammed Shami was squared up, and he sent a catch to third slip.

The following over, bowled by Curran, brought another double strike – Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah both out lbw, both pretty plumb. India lost four wickets while the score was 67, and were all out soon – yet another nightmare in broad daylight since that shocker at Adelaide.

After such a shocking display India lost the zeal to fight and the out of form English batting lineup cashed in. Rory Burns and his new opening partner – Haseeb Hameed batted with caution and aggression at times only to pile the agony on the Indian bowlers.

On the second day, it was up to Dawid Malan and Joe Root to rub salt on the injury by essaying commendable knocks.

Joe Root hit his third hundred of the series and sixth of the year. Dawid Malan struck a fifty.

Once Root got going after lunch, India’s strategy of bowling tightly and keeping the runs down – which had been somewhat successful in a morning session in which they removed the overnight batters – was essentially torn apart. It’s not that Root’s innings was necessarily a counterattack – he just went into ODI mode and found ways to score off even good balls, frequently deflecting balls in the arc between point and the third man in particular. He was on 27 off his first 25 balls, 41 off 50, and reached triple figures off the 123rd ball he faced.

12 of Root’s 23 centuries have come in 55 Tests as captain, the joint-most by an England player, alongside Sir Alastair Cook.

Again, it was his sixth century by Root in 2021. He is only the third England batter with six Test tons in a calendar year after Denis Compton in 1947 and Michael Vaughan in 2002.

Root’s six centuries in 2021 puts him behind only Ricky Ponting in the list of most Test centuries by a captain in a calendar year, with the former Australia captain hitting seven tons in 2006. No England captain had hit more than four Test centuries in a single year before Root in 2021.

Root now shares the record for most Test centuries (8) scored against India with Sir Gary Sobers, Sir Viv Richards, Ricky Ponting and Steven Smith. His eight hundreds are also the most by anyone in Tests between England and India.

And he is not finished yet.

On day three, Headingley was the scene of a fightback.

From India in general, whose openers battled through the early overs, resisted James Anderson, and whose top order lost only the wicket of KL Rahul in the first 47 overs they faced.

From Pujara in particular, who overcame a streak of 12 innings in which he did not pass 50 once, to finish the day as his team’s top-scorer, nine runs short of what would be his first century since January 2019.

The fourth day was expected to be a big showdown with two of the most experienced Indian batters in the middle – sadly, as soon as Pujara was dismissed, the collapse intervened and the Indian innings folded in no time.

They lost their last eight wickets for 63 runs; their last seven for 41. And they didn’t last till lunch, going down by an innings and 76. Ollie Robinson, England’s best bowler in the second innings, claimed 5 for 65 – a second career five-for in just his fourth Test. Craig Overton took two wickets to wipe out the tail and seal the match. Moeen Ali produced a big-spinning beauty to get a wicket of his own, and Anderson was unlucky to wind up with just one dismissal to his name – he’d been all over Virat Kohli in his first spell.


England have levelled the series and plenty of action is still left in this high voltage series.


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