England vs India

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Day 2 of the 1st Test between England and India: KL Rahul shines, but England's "ageless" James Anderson swings the game in their favour.

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Friday, 6th August 2021

On a rain-shortened day two of the first Test, the wily old James Anderson got his "bunny" Virat Kohli in a spellbinding session that wrecked India's good opening stand, leaving them teetering at 125 for four against England. With successive precision deliveries that got Cheteshwar Pujara (4) and Virat Kohli (0), the 39-year-old Anderson (13.4-7-15-2) flipped it in England's favour as India went from 97 for no loss to 112 for four in less than six overs. The journey from KL Rahul (57* off 151 balls) and Rishabh Pant (7*) are still standing tall amid the rubble, but Anderson's spell nullified India's early edge, and the pressure also resulted in Ajinkya Rahane's tragic run-out (5).

After the gifted Karnataka batsman lost his position in the longer forms due to a prolonged bad patch, Rahul's superb Test match batting will be a welcome relief for the Indian team management. Anderson's third victim could have been him, but he was dropped in the slips, his lone batting error of the day.

The nine fours, largely drives, were magnificent, and his mental control while selecting the bad balls in gloomy conditions was outstanding. On the other hand, Anderson took the cake on the day, as the pacer with the most Test matches (163) matched Anil Kumble's record of 619 scalps. After once again tricking the Indian skipper in the corridor of uncertainty, he equaled Kumble's record.

Kohli went for a larger ball for the inswinger, but it kept its line well enough to take a healthy edge into Jos Buttler's gloves. Thinking back to what transpired in 2014, both Kohli and Anderson would have a sense of déjà vu.

The artist was at work earlier with a ball that was forming into Pujara in the air but diverted away when he pressed forward for Buttler to grab a low catch.

The way in which Pujara was dismissed will undoubtedly add to the cobwebs in his mind, since this series will undoubtedly have an impact on his international career. The pitch could have gotten any batter out, but Pujara's 16-ball, 17-minute stay showed he's under a lot of strain.

When he shouldered arms to a straight delivery from Ollie Robinson (15-5-32-1), he may have been removed early, but the height factor saved him. The Indian squad, on the other hand, enjoyed one of its greatest opening stands in recent England tours before Rohit Sharma's (36 off 107 balls) now-familiar proclivity for pulling led to his dismissal at the stroke of lunch.

The opening pair fared well enough to stave off the home team's four-pronged attack, but Rohit's attempt to dispatch Robinson's short ball behind the square leg boundary didn't quite work out, as he threw it away after putting in all the effort. With a deep point stationed at times to impede the flow of boundaries, the partnership certainly put England on the back foot. They waited patiently for loose deliveries and played some wonderful drives to keep the scoreboard ticking, with Rahul balancing caution and aggression in equal measure to remain undefeated.

Their strategy was simple: they wanted to get through the first hour with as little risks as possible. Rohit, in particular, demonstrated his technical brilliance by following the moving deliveries well. He was willing to play the waiting game, which is not typical of him, demonstrating how much he wants to obtain a good score in foreign settings. When the opportunity arose, he demonstrated why he is so highly regarded among his peers with a magnificent back-drive and, when necessary, he expanded his bat face to glide the ball between point and gully or flick one off his hips.

When the ball stopped moving around after the 30-over mark, Rahul, who came into the match with runs behind him, was on 11 in his first 60 balls but then produced some magnificent square and cover drives. He realised he needed to pick up the pace of the game, and he did it in the final 45 minutes.

When Sam Curran entered the bowl, the lack of express pace aided them in beating the off-side cordon as both rushed forward with prominent front-presses. However, following repeated breaks in play on the third day, he might have to start over and get a big one.


The News Talkie Bureau




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