England and India produced quite the stirring start to the five-match Test series with a thriller at Edgbaston!
What a Test match at Edgbaston!
England vs India
August 9, 2018, 10:00am
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Once again the midlands venue served up an instant classic, with England’s 31-run win secured on a dramatic fourth morning following on from Virat Kohli’s run out of Joe Root, his majestic hundred, Dawid Malan’s dropped catch(es) and Sam Curran’s star turn.
Here is a look back on five talking points from the Test at Edgbaston…
Test cricket alive and well
Edgbaston was the perfect celebration to mark their 1,000th men’s Test match, one which can comfortably hold its own alongside the classics of the 999 that came before, and invoked memories of the most celebrated of those in the 2005 Ashes, also at Edgbaston.
2:21 Highlights from day four as England secured a dramatic first Test win over India at Edgbaston
The health, and future of Test cricket has been a cause for concern for some time now, reasons ranging from the threat of T20 cricket, dwindling crowds (in some countries), home advantage becoming ever-more exaggerated and a fixtures schedule becoming ever-more bloated. In an attempt to guarantee the game’s future, day-night Tests, four-day Tests and the scrapping of the toss have all been trialed, or suggested, with varying degrees of success.
But, the best thing for the game is the game itself. When Test cricket is at its best, like it was for three and a bit days of enthralling action at Edgabston, it needs no gimmicks to help sell itself. The best versus the best, over five days, and all the challenges that presents still make it the best form of the game. And, with that in mind…
1:13 A look back on the best from England's 1,000th men's Test matches Kohli v Anderson
It was built up as the big battle pre-series, James Anderson versus Kohli, and, boy, did it deliver!
Anderson has dismissed Kohli five times in Tests – the joint-most, level with Australian offspinner Nathan Lyon – and had a particular hold over the Indian skipper on his last visit to England in 2014, where his top score was just 39 over his 10 innings.
1:59 Watch Virat Kohli's first Test ton in England
Kohli comfortably eclipsed that this time round, with a majestic 149 in the first innings, following on from a staggering run-out of Root on day one, and a mic drop celebration second only to Mike Atherton’s. Kohli then hit a battling 51 in the second that had India dreaming of victory. Anderson had his own dreams of dismissing Kohli on that fourth and final day, and while that didn’t happen, Ben Stokes at least stepped up to swing the result in England’s favour.
0:29 England were made to pay for some missed chances in the first innings
Kohli may have won this battle, but England won the war. On to Lord’s….
Courageous Curran makes his mark
Stokes was England’s match-winner on that fourth morning, but will miss the second Test as his court trial against charges of affray begins on Monday. No matter, as England have found his ‘Mini Me’ in man of the match Curran.
1:28 Sam Curran reflects on a dream Test at Edgbaston, where he was named man of the match
Mini being the optimum word as, while Curran had far from disgraced himself in his debut Test against Pakistan at Headingley earlier this summer, the concerns surrounding the 20-year-old left-armer were his lack of pace and his diminutive stature. But, what he lacks in size, the Surrey man quite appropriately makes up for in lion-hearted courage and courage, with Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain saying as much: “I always used to say ‘pick someone on their character more than what they are showing in county cricket’. Curran has it in abundance.”
Curran had already had an impact on the game, taking three wickets in the space of 13 balls (and four for the innings) to get England into the Indian batting order in, admittedly, helpful conditions for swing bowling, but it was his blistering assault with the bat on the third afternoon which truly showed off Sam’s stomach for the fight.
1:30 Watch how Sam Curran secured a superb maiden Test fifty
England were badly wobbling at 87-7, a lead of only 100, before Curran countered, striking nine boundaries and two glorious sixes in a 65-ball 63 – the second bringing up a maiden Test fifty – that lifted the hosts, ultimately, to a match-winning total.
Ashwin v Cook
A tasty little subplot from the first Test and one to likely now rival Kohli and Anderson’s battle for the series, was Alastair Cook’s struggles against Ravichandran Ashwin.
4:28 Ravichandran Ashwin joins Ian Ward at the Sky Cart to discuss all of his delivery variations
In fairness, Cook wasn’t the only one. Ashwin, an expert operator against left-handers, also accounted for Stokes and Stuart Broad in the first innings, and Keaton Jennings in the second, as he returned match figures of 7-121. But, it was the two against Cook which stood out.
Completely identical in nature, Ashwin drew Cook into defensive prods aimed towards mid-on as he found strong drift onto a leg-stump line and then sharp turn away to beat Cook’s outside edge and clip the top of off-stump on both occasions.
11:26 How do you play offspin? Kumar Sangakkara and Harbhajan Singh take to The Zone to give a demo
But never fear Cooky, as Kumar Sangakkara is here to lend a helping hand! The skilfull Sri Lankan left-hander and Harbhajan Singh, himself a hugely canny offspin bowler with 417 Test wickets to his name, took to The Zone with Ian Ward for a demo, to analyse Cook’s changing technique, the success of Ashwin and why the England left-hander could learn from Curran’s back-footed approach in his half-century.
Managing the mind games
Cook’s struggles versus Ashwin, and Anderson’s battle with Kohli, are indicative of the kind that makes Test cricket, particularly a five-Test series, such as this one, so special. The scars such dismissals inflict, the subsequent tussle with your technique, and the mental toughness required to put it behind you and come out on top next time.
0:46 Watch the four-part documentary series looking at all aspects of the mental side of sport, available on demand now
During the first Test, we got a fascinating insight into the such challenges at elite-level sport with the first episode of our documentary series Mind Games, which even features a revealing interview with former England captain Cook.
As well as that, there was the first of our Cricket in Mumbai series, in which Nasser Hussain travels round the cricket-crazy city, in an attempt to discover the chaotic soul to Indian and, possibly, world cricket.
2:13 Switch on, Nas! Watch outtakes from the Cricket in Mumbai documentary that is available on demand now
It was part of a busy trip for Hussain, who also had a sit-down chat with the ‘little master’ himself, Sachin Tendulkar, to discuss his love of batting, his cricketing idols, winning the World Cup and more – episode one of the interview also went out during the first Test, and you can watch that, as well as Cricket in Mumbai and Mind Games, on demand now.
Watch England’s second Test against India at Lord’s, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Thursday.
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