The final four days of the first England-India test in Nottingham are forecast to feature pleasant weather for the ducks, but during a dry start to what should be summer’s marquee cricket, four of them showed up early.
They could be found alongside the names of the English batsmen on a pitiful-looking scorecard as India began their quest for a first series win on these shores since 2007 with a statement performance. Virat Kohli’s attack rolled the hosts by 183 in 65.4 overs and will resume on the 21st without a loss on the second morning.
The defining six-by-22 collapse into 59 balls on either side of the tea was a case of English fears during the strangely low-key build-up that was taking place. Since the 1-0 loss to New Zealand – an education in itself – four of the top seven have not faced a single installment in first-class cricket and a fifth, Zak Crawley, has faced just six. Peak summer weeks have been given over to cue ball cricket and fingers simply crossed for the test team.
India has played only one first-class match on the tour, it must be said, but their focus in training since the final World Test Championship loss to the Black Caps in June has only been on one format. And a seam attack that saw its tires pumping through Kohli on Tuesday certainly seemed up to the task, providing a clinical display led by Jasprit Bumrah’s four-of-46 and Mohammad Shami’s three-of-28, but without a weak link from the cast. of support from Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur.
For England, the main resistance came from Joe Root, putting up 72 for the fourth wicket with retired Jonny Bairstow (29) and the leading scorer with 64. But when the England captain was caught lbw by Thakur amid the frenzied start to the evening session, he didn’t even bother to check, returning to the pavilion with the gaze of a man who is growing weary with the team’s fortune resting only on his shoulders.
On the contrary, Kohli was enraged on the field after losing the draw, while his decision to retire Ravichandran Ashwin in favor of the additional closer, with Ravindra Jadeja as his sole spinner, was justified by what followed. India also struck early in the proceedings, Bumrah lasered one on Rory Burns’ pads in the first over for the opener’s fifth duck in 11 innings. When the Trent Bridge crowd faced the first race of the day 15 minutes later with wry cheers, the India captain must have felt some concern.
Kohli ordered his bowlers smartly overall, keeping their energy levels relatively in sync, while two of his three reviews paid off. The first of these, Crawley caught behind Siraj before lunch for a slightly encouraging 27, required some persuasion from Rishabh Pant after the wicketkeeper had hit the scratched inside edge and Kohli, who had burned one by a shout of lbw three balls earlier, he used a grateful smile.
And after Dom Sibley was retired early in the afternoon, the starter dropped a catch to a well-placed short midwicket from Shami for an 18 of 70 balls that will only increase calls for Haseeb Hameed to be retired, the second use. Kohli’s successful The DRS system was critical. It came amid an aggressive move that saw Shami and Bumrah fight hard at Bairstow and Root with a coup of tea.
The two Yorkshire men had grafted each other hard over the course of nearly two hours. Bairstow was displaying stricter technique against the red ball in his first first-class outing of the summer, while Root was serious, head down on the main thing, the green-tinged field subject to regular landscaping, but the captain England still displayed some delightful tours and skillful guides. When Root outpointed Siraj through coverage of four to reach 23, he surpassed Alastair Cook to become the leading scorer of all England formats.
But the boisterous Shami changed the complexion of the shoot, producing a beauty that swayed in Bairstow, scored one more pinch and hit her pads. Referee Richard Kettleborough had his doubts, as did Shami and several Indian outfielders, but Kohli sent him upstairs and was handsomely rewarded.
England entered the break with 138 of four, but India opened a final to attack after the restart. Shami, who has found past visits to England frustrating for hitting the bat without success, struck first when newcomer Dan Lawrence landed on his fourth ball and looked at a trapped leg, and Bumrah followed this by eliminating Jos Buttler for a while. 18-ball duck through a tame shove from the outside.
Once Thakur eliminated Root and Ollie Robinson in four-ball space, the latter becoming England’s 31st duck in nine Tests this year, Sam Curran had to sort the tail. The off-roader rocked hard for an undefeated 27, but neither Stuart Broad nor Jimmy Anderson could resist Bumrah’s switch to yorker mode, nor did they find precious breakthrough as Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul went all the way.
This added a start that England couldn’t afford, especially after losing their talisman Ben Stokes before the series and, in terms of selection, the response to the absence of the off-roader was to again bypass Jack Leach and opt for a four seam. attack.
It is the sixth time in 21 events with Chris Silverwood that England have done so in what is a constant source of debate. But the main problems at the moment are at a higher level of the order and where the priorities of English cricket lie more broadly.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism