The outcome of England’s 1,000th Test was on a knife-edge after they and India traded memorable blows on a compelling third day at Edgbaston.
Sam Curran’s maiden Test half-century bailed England out from 87 for seven to a second-innings 180 all out, after Ishant Sharma (five for 51) had taken three wickets in an over either side of lunch.
Then as India set out in pursuit of 194 to go 1-0 up in this Specsavers series, Stuart Broad saw off both openers before the tourists’ lynchpin captain Virat Kohli once more refused to give way in a close-of-play 110 for five.
Broad energised the Hollies Stand with his two early wickets in successive overs.
Egged on by England captain Joe Root from mid-off, this country’s noisiest cricket enclosure answered the call as Broad followed the dismissal of Murali Vijay, lbw playing no shot, with that of Shikhar Dhawan, who edged an outswinger behind.
KL Rahul then never convinced and eventually went caught-behind too, when Ben Stokes found the necessary movement at the end of his second over, and Ajinkya Rahane followed the same way – this time off Curran – as India slumped to 63 for four.
As for so much of Thursday Kohli was still there, though.
He lost another general when Jonny Bairstow took his fourth catch as Ravi Ashwin edged James Anderson, but would not be moved as he reached stumps on an unbeaten 43 to add to his first-innings 149.
England’s second innings had earlier hit deep trouble by lunch, thanks to Ishant.
Ashwin had already done his damage.
Another perfect off-break did the trick with Jennings, caught at second slip via a forward prod.
Root tried to take the game to India rather than sitting in defensively, but he paid for his positivity when he clipped Ashwin straight to leg-slip, where Rahul held a very sharp catch.
Dawid Malan was soon engaged in a largely unequal struggle, especially against Ishant.
He began to walk off in resignation after edging one delivery low to slip, only for the ‘catcher’ Dhawan to immediately signal his doubts.
An umpire’s review issued the reprieve, but Malan added just three runs before Ishant’s angle from round the wicket and movement away did for him anyway – up the pitch to try to mitigate yet still edging to gully.
It was over to England’s middle-order powerhouse strokemakers, but all three were to go in the same over either side of lunch.
Bairstow fenced a catch to slip, and two balls later Stokes was snapped up by Kohli in the cordon.
Ishant took his third wicket when Jos Buttler’s miserable Test as England’s new vice-captain culminated with his caught-behind departure for a single.
But Curran (63) took his cue for more heroics after his four-wicket haul the previous day.
He began with his share of fortune, outside edge to the fore as he went after any width on offer from the seamers – although the chance he gave on 13, through the fingers of Dhawan at slip off Mohammed Shami, was a very tough one.
Curran’s repertoire grew, more so after Adil Rashid was bowled through the gate by Umesh Yadav to end an eighth-wicket stand of 48.
The young all-rounder had already advanced to hit Ashwin for a mighty straight six, and then completed his run-a-ball half-century with another maximum – an audacious blow over extra-cover off the returning Ishant.
But Broad became Ishant’s fifth victim, caught at slip off full-length swing – and Curran was last out, on the stroke of tea, when he edged an attempted glide off Yadav to the wicketkeeper.
CLOSE: IND 110/5 (Kohli 43* Karthik 18*)
Join us on Saturday morning for the denouement. India need 84 to win, England five wickets. As long as Kohli is there you would have to say India are slight favourites but no’but just.
OVER 36: IND 110/5 (Kohli 43* Karthik 18*) require 194 to win
Kohli calls for his helmet which eats up another 30 seconds ensuring this will be the final over. Karthik defends or leaves four, lkicks a single off his ankle down to fine leg, leaving Kohli one to face. Stokes opts for the bumper, Kohli ducks it and that’s the end of another remarkable entertaining day’s play.
OVER 35: IND 109/5 (Kohli 43* Karthik 17*) require 194 to win
Kohli calls for his cap and pushes the first ball out to point for a single. Karthik thrashes a drive at the next and Root makes a diving stop at mid-off. Kohli taps another single to cover and Rashid then tests Karthik with two flatter, quicker leg breaks which he defends. India require 85 to win. One over left tonight. England need five wickets.
OVER 34: IND 105/5 (Kohli 41* Karthik 15*) require 194 to win
Root sticks with Stokes and has a leg gully and a short leg for Kohli. He’s going to bang it in but can’t get it up sufficiently and Kohli calmly tucks it ff his hip for a single. Karthik leaves the next fiour then blocks the last. Rashid will have one over.
OVER 33: IND 104/5 (Kohli 40* Karthik 15*) require 194 to win
Oh … Kohli loses his discipline for a moment and chases a wide one. It fizzes past the edge and he chastises himself. Broad sighs and worries his fringe. We should have three overs at most left. Michaels Holding and Atherton want Rashid to come on. I think they are right.
OVER 32: IND 103/5 (Kohli 39* Karthik 15*) require 194 to win
Clever by Stokes, targeting the 5ft 7in Karthik with a couple of ribticklers that he wears on the glove. Come on, where’s the man under the lid? Maiden.
OVER 31: IND 103/5 (Kohli 39* Karthik 15*) require 194 to win
Kohli lets a couple of Broad’s first three deliveries by then prods a single through point. Karthik ends the over with a similar shot and result.
OVER 30: IND 101/5 (Kohli 38* Karthik 14*) require 194 to win
Sorry, Broad replaced Anderson. Stokes is persevering. The infernal trumpeter for an inexplicable reason is playing Tom Jones’ ode to murder. Kohli pats a single through point, Karthik brings up the hundred with a leg bye and Kohli steers another down to backward point. Stokes strikes Karthik with an inswinger on the front knee but Chris Gaffney says he was playing a shot so the fact that it pitched outside makes it pointless to review.
OVER 29: IND 98/5 (Kohli 36* Karthik 14*) require 194 to win
Half an hour to go until the close at 6.50pm, though either side could claim an extra half hour if a result were deemed possible. Broad replaces Anderson and Karthik gets a big stride in to defend, waits for an error in length and slaps a drive off the outer half of his bat through third slip for four. Third man is very square. There’s a breathless hush in the close tonight …
OVER 28: IND 94/5 (Kohli 36* Karthik 10*) require 194 to win
Stokes, too, is sweating cobs. His forehead is gleaming. When Stokes gives it every opportunity to swing in but it doesn’t Karthik leans into a sweet cover drive, flogging it to the fence. Shades of the Karthik of 2007, when he was 22, and made that 91 at the Oval. A hundred to get.
OVER 27: IND 89/5 (Kohli 36* Karthik 5*) require 194 to win
Anderson is tiring but still testing. Kohli drives a single to mid off, Karthik works one off his pads.
OVER 26: IND 87/5 (Kohli 35* Karthik 4*) require 194 to win
Karthik is struck high on the pad by Stokes’ inswinger but it’s too high to warrant a review despite the fervent promptings of the crowd. The next one starts wider before hooping in and Karthik squeezes it out to point for a single. It’s a different game when Kohli is on strike. None of the frenzy. He seems utterly unrushed and he waits to play one late through the slips for a single as Stokes strains for a huge inducker.
OVER 25: IND 83/5 (Kohli 33* Karthik 1*) require 194 to win
Enter Karthik on a pair and he must have winced when the first ball fizzes past the outside edge as he fends at it. Karthik moves off them with a tip and run to cover then Anderson digs one in to Kohli’s hip and the batsman eases it fine for four.
I’ve no idea who will win this game. But of this I’m certain: if this match (and all the others like it) were broadcast free-to-air, cricket would have no popularity issue in England.
— George Dobell (@GeorgeDobell1) August 3, 2018
Ashwin c Bairstow b Anderson 13 Having just flashed a drive that struck the edge and flew over gully for four, Ashwin nibbles at one that leaves him off the pitch and feathers it through the keeper. Kohli looks thunderstruck. FOW 78/5
OVER 24: IND 73/4 (Kohli 29* Ashwin 9*) require 194 to win
Ben Stokes replaces Sam Curran and racks up three dot balls to Ashwin with a fourth- and fifth-stump line. Annoyed that he is not eliciting a stroke he bowls it closer and Ashwin slackens his wrists to square drive through point. He saves the best until last, a big inswinger that Ashwin inside-edges on to his pad. The crowd all but demand a review but but what do they of lbw laws now who only lbw laws don’t know?
OVER 23: IND 69/4 (Kohli 29* Ashwin 5*) require 194 to win
Very good again from Anderson who beats Ashwin with a peach that angles in, pitches then tears past the edge. A single apiece for the captain and his key man.
OVER 22: IND 67/4 (Kohli 28* Ashwin 4*) require 194 to win
India send in Ashwin to replace Rahane who departs after bottom-edging edging an angled bat cut away from his body. The spinner leans into a cover drive, drilling it through extra cover for four. India require 127 to win, England six wickets.
OVER 21: IND 63/3 (Kohli 28* Rahane 2*) require 194 to win
Maiden for Anderson to Kohli: probing, testing, absorbing. Maestro vs maestro.
Rahane c Bairstow b Curran 2The keeper wrapped his little and ring fingers under the ball. FOW 63/4
OVER 20: IND 63/3 (Kohli 28* Rahane 2*) require 194 to win
Kohli’s enormous stride and guard outside the crease saves him but he was troubled by the big inswinger. A single off the fifth ball, tucked to fine leg and Rahane has one to face. He’s trying to play himself in but it’s a precarious time for him and he is rapped on the finger. He would prefer that to losing his wicket but this is very hard yakka for every batsman bar one.
OVER 19: IND 62/3 (Kohli 27* Rahane 2*) require 194 to win
And his first ball to Kohli is an absolute brute that pitches and veers away from the batsman’s edge as he fiddled at it. The next ball is better for Kohli, less movement and he plays it late under his nose to tonk it through cover for three.
OVER 18: IND 59/3 (Kohli 24* Rahane 2*) require 194 to win
Glorious shot from Kohli off Curran to start the last half session, smearing a cover drive for four. He waited for it to tail in and leathered it. Two balls later he taps one to cover and skips a single. Anderson is coming back on.
OVER 17: IND 54/3 (Kohli 19* Rahane 2*) require 194 to win
Rahane elongates a defensive and clips it through midwicket for two. The floodlights are back on. Funny old day. If Kohli is batting so far out of his crease why don’t they post a short leg to him to give him pause for thought? That’s drinks. India need 140 to win, England seven wickets.
OVER 16: IND 51/3 (Kohli 18* Rahane 0*) require 194 to win
Screeching appeal from Curran and the cordon when he thinks he has Kohli nicking to the keeper but Chris Gaffney isn’t convinced and Bairstow shouts down the pitch that the batsman clipped his pad with his bat which was the source of the persuasive sound. Curran, sticking to this full length, gives Kohli an inch of width and the India captain takes a vast stride and drives it square of point for four.
OVER 15: IND 46/3 (Kohli 13* Rahane 0*) require 194 to win
Superb from Stokes and now he has Rahane to have a go at, the batsman he thoroughly discomfited yesterday.
Rahul c Bairstow b Stokes 13 Stokes has begun this spell in the same vein as Thursday’s opening dart with great precision and late movement through the air and off the pitch. From over the wicket he angles it in to Rahul and gets it to straighten and take the shoulder of the bat. FOW 46/3
OVER 14: IND 43/2 (Rahul 13* Kohli 12*) require 194 to win
Time for Sam Curran to come into the attack to build on yesterday and today. He greets Rahul to a handsome inswinger that he inside edges on to his pad. England strangle an appeal.
OVER 13: IND 43/2 (Rahul 12* Kohli 11*) require 194 to win
Stokes gets one to kick off the pitch and clatter Kohli on the right elbow. It made the entire sports desk wince, never mind the India captain. That delivery came a ball after there was a mix-up in the running when Rahul sent his captain back when he had called for a tight single. Stokes sprinted up the pitch, thinking of side-footing the ball on to the stumps but Kohli was back home o he swooped to pick it up, pirouetted and shaped to fire it at the non-striker’s but demurred. Buttler’s chase, dive and scoop back saves one on the cover boundary when Kohli reaches wide to drill a cover drive. He has to settle for three.
OVER 12: IND 39/2 (Rahul 11* Kohli 7*) require 194 to win
Soft hands from Kohli glide two through the slips and Broad ends the over by clipping Rahul, not playing a shot, on the top of the right pad as he covered his stumps. It was missing and would have been too high, too. Ben Stokes is going to come on. This is the right call to Rahul.
OVER 11: IND 35/2 (Rahul 10* Kohli 5*) require 194 to win
Kohli, batting a yard out of his crease as he did yesterday, pushes two through mid-off then walks across his stumps a la Steve Smith to flick two more through midwicket. He has a sublime technique anyway but he is not too proud or dumb to adapt.
OVER 10: IND 31/2 (Rahul 10* Kohli 1*) require 194 to win
England appeal for leg-before when he drags Rahul across his stumps and smacks him on the shin. Pretty clear that there were two noises to those of us listening on headphones and Stokes and Bairstow tell Root not to review. Indeed the replay shows a thick inside edge. Broad nips one through Rahul’s gate, inadvertently clipping the inside edge and missing the stumps by a whsker as it flew down to long leg for four.
OVER 9: IND 27/2 (Rahul 6* Kohli 1*) require 194 to win
Wonderful from Anderson and Kohli. The bowler persists in inviting the batsman to have a nibble outside off with a series of outswingers and though he refuses to RSVP most of them, his hands do follow one that pitched on off stump and beats him all ends up. Maiden.
OVER 8: IND 27/2 (Rahul 6* Kohli 1*) require 194 to win
Root has roused the crowd and they have responded to his urgings, increasing the volume and ferocity of their encouragement. Kohli is off the mark straight away when Broad pushes it on to middle and he whips it down to square leg for a single. Rahul plays and misses outside off then whips four through midwicket. As soon as Broad departs from an off-stump or fourth-stump line, his angle gives the right-handers the opportunity to work him through the gap at midwicket.
Dhawan c Bairstow b Broad 13 After serving up a big outswinger, Broad gets this one to start straighter, enticing the drive and the opener nicks off to the keeper’s left. Bairstow takes two steps and grabs it at thigh height. Enter Virat at austerity double Nelson. FOW 22/2
OVER 7: IND 21/1 (Dhawan 13* Rahul 1*) require 194 to win
Dhawan pats a square drive/defensive for a single. Rahul, a class player when in form, wasn’t in long enough in the first knock to demonstrate the nick he is in. He hurriedly leaves Anderson’s outswinger late, pumps the next one to cover and hares a single. A direct hit from Curran demolishes the stumps at the non-striker’s but he was home by a stride and a half. Here’s Malan’s drop.
OVER 6: IND 19/1 (Dhawan 12* Rahul 0*) require 194 to win
Because he played no shot where it pitched is immaterial. The wicket brings the Hollies Stand to life in full throat and they scream for a caught behind when Rahul follows the last ball of the over outside off stump. He played for the inswinger but was done by the outswinger.
Vijay lbw b Broad 6 Padded up expecting the outswinger and was pinned plumb on the front knee when it shaped back in. Malan’s drop has not proven costly this time. FOW 19/1
OVER 5: IND 16/0 (Vijay 4* Dhawan 11*) require 194 to win
England have bowled pretty well so far and should have had their reward but for Malan’s freshly buttered mitts. Dhawan check drives for three, Vijay gets two when he should have been out and then flicks a single down to long leg. Anderson’s internal fluids area at boiling point but he keeps a lid on his disappointment and almost … almost … does for Vijay with a glorious outswinger that the batsman follows but fails to tickle.
Buttler, Root, Stokes would all be better bets in the slips and Anderson when he’s not bowling.
Vijay edges to second slip’s right and Malan, for it is he, parries it down to third man. It comes off the fleshy part between thumb and forefinger. A third drop of the game for Malan.
OVER 4: IND 9/0 (Vijay 1* Dhawan 7*) require 194 to win
Bairstow can’t get his hands round one that shoots through and India scurry a bye.
OVER 3: IND 8/0 (Vijay 1* Dhawan 7*) require 194 to win
Anderson is bowling very full for four balls then slips in a bouncer to try to play with Vijay’s bearings and gasps when it rears past the opener’s gloves as he swayed inside the line.
OVER 2: IND 7/0 (Vijay 1* Dhawan 6*) require 194 to win
Excellent shot from Dhawan, opening the face and leaning into a punch in front of point for four. It raced away to the boundary. It’s a very sultry evening at Edgbaston but there is no hint of swing yet for Broad but his pace is up in the mid-80s.
OVER 1: IND 2/0 (Vijay 1* Dhawan 1*) require 194 to win
England have a third man in place because of their paltry second innings and he keeps Vijay down to a single when he thick edges Anderson through the slips. Time for the ‘Oh Jimmy, Jimmy’ song when he strikes Dhawan on the knee with a ball that was pitching outside leg stump. Dhawan gets going with a crisp tap through point. Broad will share the new ball.
TEA: England all out 180
India require 194 to win. Ishant Sharma was irrepressible, taking five for 51, Ashwin devastating early on and Umesh came in to grab two wickets at the end. But the afternoon belongs to Sam Curran for an innings of great stones, audacity and ingenuity. Well played. He has always seemed to be a proper cricketer, with the right courage and determination. I didn’t realise he was capable at this age of such high-class batting and bowling. Still, unless Anderson and/or Broad and/or Stokes have one of their hot-streak days, this Test is India’s to lose. India will begin their chase after tea.
Curran c Karthik b Umesh 63 Trying to steal a single off the last ball after clubbing a four over mid on, he steers it into the keeper’s hands. He was trying to glide it down to third man. FOW 180
OVER 52: ENG 176/9 (Curran 59* Anderson 0*)
Broad, who took a single off the last ball of the over, squirts a square drive to third man off a thick edge to walk a single off Ishant’s first ball. Curran finds the same fielder with the middle of his bat for the same reward. Broad survives three dot balls as Ishant gets his line right but doesn’t jag it away … until he does and sends the batsman back to the hutch.
Broad c Dhawan b Sharma 11The same kind of delivery that did for Stokes. The bowler arrows it in from round the wicket on to off and middle then rips it away from the left-hander. Because of the movement Broad’s on drive was now inside the line and caught the edge. Dhawan dived to his right to snatch it. FOW 176/9
OVER 51: ENG 174/8 (Curran 58* Broad 10*)
Kohli has spread the field the last two overs when Curran is on strike with five boundary riders. Which means there are singles available everywhere. He takes one to third man then Broad pushes two to point. The swing has gone. Broad is squared up and has a French cricket waft at the next two. His front foot now habitually heads towards short leg and he ends up in a two-eyed stance on the bowler’s delivery. The lead is up to 187.
OVER 50: ENG 168/8 (Curran 55* Broad 7*)
The man playing his second Test was trying to far the strike to protect the man playing his 118th but couldn’t do it off the last ball of Umesh’s over. Kohli turns to Ishant Sharma to have a run at Broad who check drives to cover and gallops a single. Curran brings up his maiden Test fifty in extraordinary style by charging down the wicket and flat batting Ishant over cover for six! What a shot! Sharma has his revenge by bouncing him, arrowing it from round the wicket towards his head. Curran backs away, loses his footing and ends up on his jacksie before springing back up with a grin. He takes a single next ball with a prod through point, leaving Broad with two to face. He fishes at the first outside off stump then pushed the last one firmly up the pitch. The lead is 181.
OVER 49: ENG 160/8 (Curran 48* Broad 6*)
Curran tries to take on Umesh, scything away outside off stump but playing and missing at three out of four balls. He can’t get a bat on it as Umesh hits 87mph and makes the ball wobble outside the left-hander’s off stump.
OVER 48: ENG 160/8 (Curran 48* Broad 6*)
Broad sweeps again for a single. Kohli has a boundary rider there for that shot. Curran takes to the dance floor and mullers successive boundaries off Ashwin, the first sailing over mid off for six, the second low and flat over mid on and bouncing just inside the rope. Sensational counter-attack.
OVER 47: ENG 148/8 (Curran 37* Broad 5*)
Broad dips quickly on to his haunches to duck Yadav’s bouncer that rears trampoline style over the keeper for four byes. The next ball is pitched up, the intention with the previous ball was to push him back but he stands firm on the front foot to squirt a single down to third man. Curran plays a more expansive shot outside off and tans it for four through third man with a chop of his bottom hand.
OVER 46: ENG 139/8 (Curran 33* Broad 4*)
Broad cuffs a sweep off Ashwin, judging the line well, and earning two that takes the lead above 150. The next ball is pushed through and Broad rushes to defend then spanks the next one off the back foot through midwicket for a single.
OVER 45: ENG 136/8 (Curran 33* Broad 1*)
Big hooping outswinger from Umesh and Rashid chases it with a very wafty drive that he mercifully misses. The bowler straightens his line to take it closer to the edge and Rashid jabs at it late but is cleaned up by the next one that stays true and uproots his stumps. England lead by 149.
Rashid b Yadav 16Three-card trick. Two outswingers followed by the one that kept straight and smashed back off stump. Neck and crop. FOW 135/8
OVER 44: ENG 134/7 (Curran 32* Rashid 16*)
Nice shot by Curran, whipping a drive through wide mid on for a single off Ashwin. He’s had trouble finding the middle of his bat before then but in true Churchillian mode he KBO.
OVER 43: ENG 133/7 (Curran 31* Rashid 16*)
Umesh starts his second over having had Rashid dropped in his last one half an hour ago. Rashid leaves three, whips a single of his toes to fine leg and then helps Curran steal a single with a crisp push into the offside. England’s lead is 146. Isa and Bumble are now engaged in Step On banter. Wonders will never … start.
The umpires are out
India are in a huddle and the batsmen are coming. They’ve put on 44 so far for the eighth wicket and are 144 ahead.
The view from over Bill’s mother’s
Charlie, the most incisive rugby analyst around, has other commitments and has handed back to Bagchi. We thank him for his service.
Players off for bad light
That’s the light meter…
…and it’s become too dark to continue in Birmingham. Curran and Rashid scurry off. England lead by 144.
It’s getting brighter already, so hopefully this break won’t be a long one. Indeed, the umpires have remained on the square.
OVER 42: ENG 131/7 (Curran 30* Rashid 15*)
Just a single from Ashwin’s next, muscled to the leg side by Rashid.
OVER 41: ENG 130/7 (Curran 30* Rashid 14*)
The burly Umesh Yadav has a trundle and Rashid is dropped. Big chance. Rashid was suckered into a drive a late swing beat him.
Dinesh Karthik was indecisive, which may have obscured the view of first slip Dhawan. Anyway, Dhawan juggled the ball against his chest, bobbled it off his should and eventually saw it drop to the floor.
He saw the funny side…
…but Kohli did not.
OVER 40: ENG 129/7 (Curran 30* Rashid 13*)
Curran moves to 30 with an assured pull shot after Ashwin drags one down. Neatly done.
OVER 39: ENG 125/7 (Curran 26* Rashid 13*)
Single to Rashid and Curran either side of another four to third man for the latter. That went quickly over about fourth slip.
Rashid slices four to make it 10 off the over. England’s lead is 138 and Ashwin is returning.
OVER 38: ENG 115/7 (Curran 21* Rashid 8*)
Rashid steers a single and then it all goes off. Curran flashes hard at Shami, picking up four past Dhawan in the slips.
Then there’s another boundary off the edge, Curran dropping his hands on a tasty delivery. The ball dribbles through the cordon this time. Frustration for India.
OVER 37: ENG 106/7 (Curran 13* Rashid 7*)
Kohli gives Sharma a leg slip and Rashid receives some short stuff. The Yorkshireman swings two to deep backward square and then gloves a single to the ‘keeper’s left, just evading that leg slip.
Sharma beats Curran with a snorter to end the set.
OVER 36: ENG 103/7 (Curran 13* Rashid 4*)
Rashid tucks Shami for one before Curran carves another couple through the off-side. The Surrey youngster nibbles at the final delivery of the over, though. He’s beaten, and there’s a yelp from the Indian cordon.
OVER 35: ENG 100/7 (Curran 11* Rashid 3*)
Curran plays out five dots from Sharma and then slaps him for four through point off the front foot. That brings up England’s 100 to
rapturous applause indifference from the Edgbaston crowd.
OVER 34: ENG 96/7 (Curran 7* Rashid 3*)
Shami’s back in place of Ashwin and Curran steers him to deep point for one. Rashid adds a couple in a similar direction.
OVER 33: ENG 93/7 (Curran 6* Rashid 1*)
Rashid gets off the mark with a proactive single into the off-side. Curran responds with one into the leg-side.
Yikes. Off the final ball of the over Rashid chases a wiiiiiiide one from Sharma, who has gone past Bhagwath Chandrasekhar into seventh on the list of all-time Test wickets for India. He has 243 of them.
OVER 32: ENG 91/7 (Curran 5* Rashid 0*)
Ashwin continues and Curran looks comfortable enough, picking up four with a punched straight drive to the right of mid-on. A lovely shot. Adil Rashid is his new partner.
Buttler c Karthik b Sharma 1 Oh wow. Wowee. Sharma starts on Curran’s pads and there is a businesslike single for the 20 year-old…but then Jos Buttler goes next ball!
It was back of a length and Buttler went back, playing a loose shot out to the offside. He only succeeded in scratching a thin edge through to Karthik. That’s another body-blow for England, and they’re wheezing against the ropes here. FOW 87-7
India back out
Here come the tourists, with one more huddle after they cross the boundary…
…Ishant Sharma will continue to the new batsman, who is Sam Curran.
LUNCH: ENG 86/6 (Buttler 1*)
England are not so much in a hole as 6ft under. Ishant Sharma set up Jonny Bairstow perfectly, drawing him into his trap, then got Stokes with a beauty. Enjoy your lunch, if you can keep it down. England are 99 ahead and will resume with Sam Curran and Jos Buttler at 1.40pm. Those two plus Adil Rashid need to do what Kohli managed with Sharma and Yadav because Broad and Anderson won’t last long against Ashwin. One suspects of Buttler falls quickly, we’ll be employing the Kenneth Wolstenholme line. Charlie Morgan will be your guide for the afternoon session.
Stokes c Kohli b Sharma 6Oh captain, your ship is sinking. Another excellent delivery from Sharma, round the wicket to Stokes, angling it in, straightening it and catching the edge. Kohli, at fourth slip, dives to gather it. England are in a dreadful predicament at lunch, 99 ahead with six down. FOW 86/6
Bairstow c Dhawan b Sharma 28Fine catch low to his right, scooping it an inch or so above the ground. Sharma has made the ball come in to Bairstow who, instead of stepping across and working it through the onside, persisted in jabbing at the ball outside off, trying to punch it through cover and cover point. FOW 85/5
OVER 30: ENG 85/4 (Bairstow 28* Stokes 6*)
Stokes takes to the back foot to flip two through square leg off his pads, then does it again for two more and then a single. Ashwin needs to draw him forward. All part of the set up, perhaps.
OVER 29: ENG 79/4 (Bairstow 28* Stokes 1*)
Is that the end of Malan’s Test career, at least in England? Could he become a Peter Willey/David Smith picked for quick overseas pitches only and left at home when they play in Asia, the Caribbean and England? I think that’s his only chance of a future, looking at how often he is caught in concrete boots. Bairstow bags a jammy four off the inside edge and then has his heart in his mouth when one catches the outside edge as he fends at it but falls 3ft short of first slip.
OVER 28: ENG 74/4 (Bairstow 23* Stokes 1*)
Bairstow sweeps Ashwin, gets under the bounce and glances it off his wrist over the keeper. The umpire gives it as runs. Stokes, playing for lunch, blocks and scratches.
OVER 27: ENG 72/4 (Bairstow 21* Stokes 1*)
Stokes, playing with soft hands, pushes a single off Sharma to cover and Bairstow digs out a yorker, sending it squirting down to fine leg for a single. England lead by 85. They need at least 160 more and I can’t see how they’ll get there on this pitch and with Ashwin tormenting the left-handers.
Malan c Rahane b Sharma 20Superb delivery angling into the left-hander then straightening. Malan was suckered into playing it round the corner but it took a leading edge and popped to gully. FOW 69/4
OVER 26: ENG 69/3 (Malan 20* Bairstow 19*)
Patience pays for Malan who gets moving with a tuck off his pads for two. Will Ashwin get a break after 11 overs this morning?
OVER 25: ENG 67/3 (Malan 18* Bairstow 19*)
Combining big hooping inswingers with wide ones that couldn’t get a root in a woodpile, Sharma is infuriatingly erratic. Bairstow tries to line him up for the drive but takes until the last ball to shift the scoreboard with a punch for two to the man on the fence at cover.
OVER 24: ENG 65/3 (Malan 18* Bairstow 17*)
Ashwin is turning it square in the rough outside Malan’s off stump who survives by blocking and leaving. Hopefully it will build his confidence.
OVER 23: ENG 65/3 (Malan 18* Bairstow 17*)
Sharma gives Bairstow a rare pie and he tucks in, lashing the wide one through cover point for four. The bowler is moving it both ways but his control is lacking, ending the over with one that sits up and begs outside off stump and Bairstow slaps it behind point for four more. England lead by 78.
OVER 22: ENG 57/3 (Malan 18* Bairstow 9*)
Harbhajan, who is an insightful adornment to the Sky box, says it’s England’s leaden-footed approach to Ashwin that is causing them problems. A generation of batsmen has lost the art of using their feet. As ever Sky has to complement astute analysis with crowd banter as a pair of herberts in Kim and Trump masks prepare for a Two Tribes tribute face-off. They’re not adversaries. They’re pen pals. Maiden.
OVER 21: ENG 57/3 (Malan 18* Bairstow 9*)
India’s decision to come in with one spinner looks an odd one now, though Sharma is bowling well. They could have coped without Umesh. Malan pulls, mistimes it off the bottom of the bat, and clunks it for a single to backward square.
OVER 20: ENG 56/3 (Malan 17* Bairstow 9*)
Ashwin continues. Bairstow sweeps hard, strikes Vijay at short leg flush on the tuchas and the ball almost rebounds to Karthik. The next ball is wider and Bairstow crashes it through extra cover for four. That shot apart, he’s all at sea. Premeditating a sweep he drops to one knee, has to adjust and plays a forward defensive. Kumar Sangakkara thinks Dhawan caught it fairly as does Harbhajan and both are questioning the soft signal of ‘not out’ and the whole principle of the soft signal, saying they should not influence the third umpire and leave it to the technology.
OVER 19: ENG 52/3 (Malan 17* Bairstow 5*)
After seven successive overs from Shami, Ishant Sharma relieves him and immediately makes the ball talk, swinging it at both right- and left-hander. Bairstow chases the oustswinger rashly and just misses, rash unless he heard the call of no ball, then clips the inswinger for a single round the corner. Malan plays and misses at two that arrows in and then straighten past his outside edge. A pair of jaffas. Six inches fuller and they’d be unplayable safely … which is precisely what he does with the final ball that flies low to Dhawan who gets his index and ring fingers round the ball but it grazes the grass before he can get his middle finger beneath. Idiots in the crowd boo him. He wouldn’t know either way and immediately expressed his doubts. That’s drinks.
To determine whether Malan is out caught at first slip. Dhawan immediately signalled that he didn’t know whether it had carried. The replays suggest it touched the grass. NOT OUT.
OVER 18: ENG 50/3 (Malan 17* Bairstow 4*)
Maiden for Ashwin to Malan, every ball a trial. The one that almost provoked the umpire to don the black cap strikes Malan on the back leg but pitched outside the line.
OVER 17: ENG 50/3 (Malan 17* Bairstow 4*)
Malan pulls Shami hard, his best shot so far, rolling his wrists and collaring it for four. Two balls later he raises his bat and lets one that was too close for comfort by. He flashes a grin of chutzpah and relief at the bowler. He gives Bairstow the strike with a squirty prod through point and YJB creams a cover drive for four. Ten off the over. Make hay off the seamers. Run wild through fields of wheat, you young rebels.
OVER 16: ENG 40/3 (Malan 12* Bairstow 0*)
Bairstow hasn’t digested the lesson of Root’s dismissal and also tries the flick off his pads to balls he could comfortably kick away. Both times Rahul dives but can’t get there, his hands so low he may graze his knuckles on the old pitch stubble. Every ball from Ashwin is a threat. England are 53 ahead.
Root c Rahul b Ashwin 14 Remarkable catch at leg slip by Rahul. The leg glance hit his right knee then popped up and he took it with soft hands like a man carrying an injured thrush. Root asked him if he’d taken it cleanly and walked off. FOW 39/3
OVER 15: ENG 39/2 (Root 14* Malan 12*)
Shami gets one to whistle past Malan’s edge. As Nasser points out, he was fine with that length in Australia because he could play it with a horizontal bat. He’s in trouble here because he plays it with an angled bat.
OVER 14: ENG 37/2 (Root 13* Malan 12*)
Root takes a new guard when Ashwin comes round the wicket to him and then makes a mark about 2ft outside his crease where he wants his front foot to plant. He works a single off the back foot, Malan happier now that Ashwin is bowling over the wicket to him, pats a single to mid on. Ashwin gives up the round the wicket line to Root which is a negative ploy, comes back over, drags it down and Root pastes it off the back foot through cover point for four. Michael Holding makes the persuasive case that Ashwin is bowling the wrong line to left- and right-hander now having started so menacingly.
OVER 13: ENG 31/2 (Root 8* Malan 11*)
Shami has cranked up his wheels to hit 87mph and is bowling very full to Root, encouraging the drive. He cannot pierce the ring until the last ball which is speared on to middle and leg and he whips it down to deep backward square for a single.
OVER 12: ENG 30/2 (Root 7* Malan 11*)
Ashwin tosses one up that doesn’t dip sharply which allows Malan to drive through mid-off for a single. Root, like Tennessee Williams’ Maggie, is so busily hot-footed, that in a whir of movement he works a single off his legs round the corner.
OVER 11: ENG 28/2 (Root 6* Malan 10*)
Shami entices Malan into a rash shot outside off. The ball climbed on him as he flashed a cut at it, missing the edge by half an inch. The bounce surprised Karthik who fluffed his take. Shami tries another short one, targeted at his body. Malan, his timing not yet calibrated, pulls it off his nose and the splice for a single to midwicket.
OVER 10: ENG 27/2 (Root 6* Malan 9*)
Malan is not playing with his bat so far in front of his pad as Jennings and Cook, it’s more an old-fashioned method with bat and pad closer together and the bat even more angled to try to smother the turn. Makes him more of a candidate for lbw. He waits patiently for the shorter one and whips it off his pad for a single.
OVER 9: ENG 26/2 (Root 6* Malan 8*)
I gave Malan a premature four in the previous over. Apologies, was too preoccupied cropping a pic to see that it had been hauled in before the rope I can’t even pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. But Malan does hit his first boundary off Shami, steering it off the outside half of the face through third man for four.
OVER 8: ENG 21/2 (Root 6* Malan 3*)
Malan is given width to greet him and he crashes a drive through cover point for three. The bat was miles away from his front foot but it was a safer shot than it first looked given the line.
Serves left-handers right for being in league with the devil, I suppose.
Jennings c Rahul b Ashwin 8Classic off-spinner’s dismissal of a left-hander. It dipped, pitched on off and middle, turned and caught the edge as Jennings played a forward defensive. The ball took the edge up by the maker’s sticker and chipped away to second slip. Here comes another left-hander for him to torment now. FOW 18/2
OVER 7: ENG 17/1 (Jennings 8* Root 5*)
Jennings square drives for a single. India have taken point out to encourage that shot as Shami attacks him from round the wicket with greater accuracy. Having adjusted for the left-hander he then drifts down the legside to Root who turns it off his heel for a single to very fine leg. On comes the physio with a plaster for Kohli’s right index finger. Not sure why he needs that. He had it sprayed during his innings yesterday but I don’t think he was cut.
OVER 6: ENG 15/1 (Jennings 7* Root 4*)
And yet, as we saw on debut, Jennings is a good player of spin and laps Ashwin round the corner for a single Root, busy on his feet and in the crease, tries to find the gaps in the infield but has no joy.
OVER 5: ENG 14/1 (Jennings 6* Root 4*)
Shami bowled filth last night. This morning he has three slips in for Root and his precision when bowling to the right-hander is more assured until he strays on to middle stump and Root works it through midwicket for two. Sky is showing footage of match referee Jeff Crowe having a word with Kohli about the obscenity he mouthed after running Root out. Isa Guha is having a Moral Maze soliloquy on the subject now. I think Root’s response said it all, he knew he was asking for it and ate it in the appropriate fashion. Root, not discouraged by Wednesday’s run out, steals a sharp single to point and Jennings ends the over with a flick off his pad to fine leg for another. Shami can’t get it right to the left-hander at all. Root should take Ashwin, Jennings Shami.
The Pet Shop Boys have gone to seed …
OVER 4: ENG 10/1 (Jennings 5* Root 1*)
We start with the final two balls of Ashwin’s second over, India’s fourth, and he gives both a rip. Root smothers the first, and swivels on his back foot to the second and flicks it off his pad for a single. We’re away.
State of play
India start 22 runs behind England with nine wickets still to take after a day on which 12 wickets fell. Cook has fallen to Ashwin for the ninth time in 12 Tests, getting out in almost identical fashion. Both were superb deliveries though many of the England opener’s critics are suggesting he makes use of the Test sponsor’s services. I’m not sure that’s fair. Just because he was groping for the ball doesn’t mean he didn’t see it. Seeing it and countering it are two different matters altogether.
The match has turned into a genuine nipper by virtue of a pitch that rewards both elements of the game. One diligent innings today or tomorrow should seal victory and the possibility of Sunday play is extremely remote. I fear for England’s left-handers against Ashwin – the question is whether Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow or Jos Buttler can dig in to give them a score of more than 250 to defend.
England’s unsung day two hero
On a day when Virat Kohli confirmed his class and Sam Curran his colossal potential, Ben Stokes’ best Test spell since September should not be diminished by comparison. Coming into the attack after lunch he found the pace, rhythm and swing that has been so elusive since returning to the England side to dismiss Ajinkya Rahane, India’s best batsman on their last tour of England, Dinesh Karthik for his 100th Test wicket and had Kohli dropped at slip by a diving Dawid Malan when he was on 52. He edged out Stuart Broad for pace as England’s quickest bowler – he averaged 84.7mph and was regularly quicker in his spell after lunch.
He also discomfited the right-handers with his angle and unusual, deceptive action. Stokes seems to use the crease well to change the line of attack but some of it is also due to the flexibility of his left hip that enables him to lean beyond the perpendicular to the right-hander’s offside at the point of delivery. It meant that Rahane, normally a batsman with sound defence, could not work out whether the ball was safe to leave or arrowing towards his off-stump. Consequently, he hesitantly poked at balls that were missing the wickets and then fenced Stokes’ quickest delivery to third slip in a panic.
In the next over Stokes became the 47th Englishman to take a century of Test wickets and he reached the landmark with a snorter that uprooted Karthik’s middle stump. The batsman, expecting an outswinger because of an extravagant one that preceded it, played outside the line and gated himself with a loose drive when the ball tailed in. Later Stokes found Kohli’s edge but Malan could not hang on to a very difficult chance and he would later become exasperated and exhausted when taking the workhorse role in the final session and tried to bounce Kohli out.
Ever the team man, he flogged himself into the ground but as he showed in that devastating spell after lunch, he is a thoroughbred bowler who should be used more astutely.
Cue the Hammond organ.
Cricket has been well-served for the past 50 years and aberrations of taste and tone are rare for the sport. Sky tediously lathering ‘I don’t like cricket’ atop some parping bombast exhausted its welcome after five minutes and Channel 5’s sub-Keane thrumming and straining for anthemic vocals are the exceptions that prove the rule. From Florida Fantasy through Mambo No5 and Brian Bennett’s New Horizons for Channel 9 which used to introduce away Ashes highlights on the BBC, each major choice has embodied the flavour and feeling of midsummer, feelgood sounds promising sun-drenched scenes from around the globe.
But nothing matches Soul Limbo, the 1968 composition by Booker T Jones, that the BBC used for its coverage of domestic and home international cricket starting in the early 1970s and endures now as the Test Match Special theme 18 years after the Corporation lost the TV rights to Channel 4. Each element of the performance by Booker T and the MGs – especially Jones’ organ, ‘Duck’ Dunn’s walking bass and the exotic, Caribbean fills of Terry Manning’s marimba – builds an ambience of lion days, the whiff of ozone and carefree pleasure that is always uplifting and contrasts so starkly with our everyday burdens.
It tells us that this game, because it follows the sun, is a beacon of the best of days
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