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England v India: Sam Curran’s defiant fifty, Ishant Sharma’s fiery spell and other talking points

England set India a target of 194 after Ishant picks up five while Curran hits 63

Ajit Vijaykumar 2018/08/03

The first Test between England and India was left finely poised after the visitors finished Day Three on 110-5 chasing 194 to win in Birmingham.

Virat Kohli was batting on 43 when stumps were called, with England pacer Stuart Broad taking two top-order wickets.

Earlier, Ishant Sharma picked up five wickets for India but England’s Sam Curran defied the visitors with the bat as he hit a fine 63 from 65 balls and took the team to 180.

We take a look at the talking points from another brilliant day’s cricket at Edgbaston.

ASHWIN DECIMATES THE TOP ORDER

Off-spinner Ravi Ashwin has been a revelation this Test. He has generally struggled to make an impact on a consistent basis outside Asia. But in the first Test in Birmingham, the off-spinner has been in the thick of things from the very first session. Getting the ball to turn and dip, Ashwin caused serious problems to both left and right-handed batsmen.

In the first innings, he rattled the stumps of Alastair Cook off a front foot defence. He finished with four in the first innings. And just to show his first innings dismissal of Cook wasn’t a fluke, Ashwin got the England opener out in exactly the same fashion in the second. He then rattled the English top order by getting Keaton Jennings to edge one to second slip and had Joe Root tucking a ball which turned and bounced to leg slip. He finished with seven wickets in the Test.

ISHANT’S FIERY SPELL

Ishant Sharma struck either side of lunch.

The leader of India’s pace attack Ishant has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah injured, he not only has to hold one end up but also pick wickets. And either side of lunch, Ishant came up with one the most hostile spells of his career.

Getting the ball to zip across from round the wicket, he had Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes nicking near unplayable late away swingers to the slip region. Jonny Bairstow didn’t have much of a clue when he brushed a late away swinger from wide of the crease to slip. And in the first over after lunch, Ishant got one to climb on Jos Buttler who could only get a faint edge behind.

For the sheer artistry on display, it was one of the best spells of Ishant’s career, right up there with his seven-wicket haul in the 2014 Lord’s Test and the spell to Ricky Ponting in the 2008 Perth Test.

CURRAN’S FIGHTBACK

Left-arm seamer Sam Curran has enjoyed a sensational Test. The most under-rated bowler of the England line-up, hardly any one – including this humbled author – expected Curran to be the gamechanger against the top-ranked Indians.

In the first innings with the bat, Curran looked in control as he made a 71-ball 24 which helped the hosts to 287. With the ball, he got the cream of the Indian top-order after the visitors added fifty for the first wicket. His four wickets were thoroughly deserved but it was his batting in the second innings which was the most impressive.

With England staring down the barrel at 87-7 and all recognised batsmen gone, the 20-year-old Curran showed composure beyond his years as he cracked a 65-ball 63 by playing authentic cricket strokes. Then on Friday, he got Ajinkya Rahane out with a fine in-dipper.

If England do win the first Test, it will be largely down to Curran’s remarkable all-round display.

BROAD GETS THE BALL TO TALK

Stuart Broad went wicketless in the first innings, which was odd given the amount of help for quick bowlers. But he wasn’t going to miss out a second time. Getting the ball to curve both sides late, Broad got Murali Vijay lbw with the batsman offering no shot and got fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan to nick behind.

Earlier with the bat, Broad looked like he was on top of his game. His 11 off 28 balls in the company of Curran got him in the right frame of mind to bend his back with the new ball and it paid off handsomely.

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Ajinkya Rahane Ben Stokes Dawid Malan England cricket India cricket Ishant Sharma Joe Root Murali Vijay Ravi Ashwin Sam Curran Shikhar Dhawan Stuart Broad