The world cricket witnessed one of the most exciting Test matches when India and England faced each other in the series opener of a gruelling five-match Test series. India’s bowling triggered an England collapse in the third innings, but Sam Curran’s valuable runs at the end of innings proved to be costly as India fell short of the target by 31 runs on the fourth day. Ahead of the second contest at Lord’s, here are few takeaways from India’s performance at Edgbaston:
Virat Kohli’s magnificent 149 in the first innings proved to be the turning point for his side. Kohli single-handedly took India’s total to 274. He batted smartly with the tail and worked out which bowlers he was going to target. Kohli scored almost half of India’s runs in this Test match which shows India’s dependence on their captain as a batting unit. The other batsmen around him have to adapt better and probably take a leaf out of Kohli’s book by leaving the ball well and ensure that they control their hands well by keeping them closer to the body.
Probably one of the best batsmen when it comes to overseas conditions, Ajinkya Rahane’s form is absolutely critical to India’s success as he is someone who averages lesser at home on slower, lower tracks and thrives on overseas tours. At Edgbaston, Rahane struggled against Ben Stokes, who jumps on the centre of the return crease but his head falls away, making the ball release from a wider angle which forced Rahane to play at more balls. As a result, he lost his off-stump awareness and threw his hands at the balls outside off-stump. In his last eight matches, Rahane averages 20.83 which is a concern for him and his side.
Ravi Ashwin has created quite a havoc among England’s left-handers as he challenged both edges of the bat. Ashwin got the better of England captain twice in the Test match – undoing Cook with the drift and beating his outside edge to clip the top of off-stump.
Cook was undone twice by the drift and turn from Ashwin ©AFP
Malan’s form of late hasn’t worked in his favour, and the threat of Ashwin forced England to include a 20-year-old right handed batsman from Surrey, Ollie Pope, to negate the threat to some extent. Whether Pope can cope with the expectation or not remains to be seen.
The focus of the experts in the Edgbaston Test has been on Virat Kohli (rightly so), but India’s fast bowling stocks have risen tremendously given that Bumrah and Kumar were out nursing injuries. Ishant Sharma sparked another England batting collapse in their 2nd innings when he nipped out Buttler, Bairstow and Malan in one over. He realised that left-handers, in particular, were lining him up well from over-the-wicket as the ball was only going away from them. He switched to round-the-wicket and got the ball to straighten from that angle which forced the lefties to play at more balls and in this process, he got the better of Malan and Stokes by squaring them up.
Slip catching from both teams has been poor in the opening Test. Dawid Malan shelled Virat Kohli twice – giving the Indian skipper a second chance early in his innings when James Anderson bowled a relentless fifth stump channel on the second day of the Test match.
Anderson's beehive against Kohli ©CricViz
India had England on the floor until Sam Curran blazed away with 65-ball 63 to give his side a competitive total to defend. India’s slip catching conversion since 2015 is second from bottom in the list of all Test teams. This is an area which needs to be improved as the series goes on.