• Ollie Godden

INDIA VS ENGLAND | The Wrap Up - 1st Test, Day 5

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

The Test dream: three results possible on the final day. England needed 9 wickets for victory while India required 381 runs. Here's The Wrap Up from day 5:

Unplayable Anderson

In the summer of 2003, James Anderson made his first Test cricket appearance against Zimbabwe at Lord's, and took five wickets in an innings on debut, becoming the 42nd Englishman to do so. At the same time in Fazilka, Punjab, three year old Shubman Gill was picking up a bat for the first time. It would be 1500 miles from Fazilka where the pair met, and the Englishmen would uproot the opener's off stump to catalyse a famous England win.

It was a delivery that typified England's greatest seamer. He stood up when his team most needed him, executing late reverse swing with sublime accuracy to slip through the smallest of gaps between Gill's bat and pad. If once was enough, he undid India's vice captain Ajinkya Rahane with exactly the same delivery a few balls later, an umpire's call LBW decision preventing him claiming the wicket sooner.

Although the spinners were mooted as the bowlers to win England the game on day 5, Anderson showed why, since the start of 2015, he averages 21.75 in Asia, and just 9.90 in 2021. What he lacks in pace and raw energy he makes up for with technical brilliance and and game plan clarity. He has silenced talks of impending retirement over the last few years, and rightly so: India Have only lost 10 times at home since Anderson's initial berth against Zimbabwe. He has played in four of them.

English Spin leaves questions

Spinners need to win games in the sub-continent, and England's did that by taking 11 wickets across both innings. By and large, though, they flattered to deceive. Dom Bess offered glimpses of potential, particularly in claiming Virat Kohli, yet failed to offer prolonged consistency. Leach was the better bowler of the two across the Test, despite Risabh Pant taking a liking to the slow left armer during his first innings spell. His delivery to dismiss Rohit Sharma late on Day 4 was a pearl with dip and turn, and his top spinner which rushed Rivichandran Ashwin showed a capability for subtle variation.

It is a slight concern that they were not dominant on a slow and low pitch. Bess has undoubtedly provided padding to England's batting line up, and is very early in his Test Career. He deserved the luck he accrued in the first innings with patches of good bowling, and did well to keet Risabh Pant quiet. That said, India will look to exploit his vulnerabilities and one wonders whether Moeen Ali will be drafted in to offer a little more control with the ball. As the ball spits and bites late in Tests, England need to ensure they pounce on difficult batting conditions.

Positives amongst Indian blemishes

Save for a lost toss and a well crafted first innings, this game could have looked very different from an Indian perspective. All is by no means lost in their series. Shubman Gill continued to look imperious in the fourth innings, mixing solid defence with fearless aggression until he was removed by the ball of the match.

Virat Kohli was equally as sublime, matching the impregnability of his opposite number until he was undone by the fifth day pitch. If Root's imperious form continues, Kohli needs to match it to keep India in with a shout of a series win. It has been a timely return to form, too, since he hasn't scored a century in 2020. He may be on his way back.

The loss was not for the want of trying on the bowling front, either. Despite missing Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammad Shami, India largely bowled well. Ishant Sharma picked up his 300th Test wicket while Ashwin was the best spin bowler in the game.

They were undeniably outplayed in this game, and were the victims of misfortune, not least in losing the toss. But they are not in crisis, and will be back with a vengeance in the second Test.

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