ICYMI: A Recap of the India vs England Nottingham Test
While the eyes and focus of most were on the happenings in the East, far in the West, a Test match began.
While the eyes and focus of most in the world (India, too, for a change) were rightfully on the happenings in the East, in the land of the rising sun, far in the West, under cover of dark clouds, a Test match began.
Living in a time when revenue drives the decision-making process, when even-numbered, often inconsequential, matches are played in a series left, right and centre to keep the broadcasters and sponsors happy, a five-Test match series began in the land of the sport's origin.
For many, it became a trip down memory lane, an opportunity to relive the halcyon days, when skill and the love for the game took precedence over blatant commercialisation.
This is how a five-Test match series can make one and many, who still retain a passion for the truest form of the game, even in the times of the fast-paced T20s, feel. For some, it may be just three years since India played a five-Test series. For others, it's been THREE YEARS since India played a five-Test series.
While that wish may have come true, pleasing the Rain God, especially in England, remains a task, ways of which we mere mortals are yet to find.
And so, as the Rain God willed, Day 5 of the first Test match, a day that promised a mouthwatering finish, was washed out, resulting in a drawn Nottingham Test. But what happened then in the first four days, when the God above, in a merciful mood, allowed some play. We take a look.
Day One: Bumrah, Shami Wreak Havoc
England, who won the toss and decided to bat first in tough batting conditions, had no idea what was in store for them. The home side lost their last seven wickets for just 45 runs as they were bundled out for a mere 183, with Bumrah and Shami sharing seven wickets between them. This was despite India not picking spinner R Ashwin, a proven match-winner, who is in the form of his life.
Joe Root, as usual, was a cut above the rest with a well-made 64 before Shardul Thakur trapped him in front. India's new opening combination of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma knocked off 21 of those runs in not so easy 55 minutes of batting but managed to stay on the crease.
Day Two: KL Rahul Steals the Show, Golden Duck for Captain Kohli
Two days before the first Test match, India opener Mayank Agarwal was hit in the head by a Mohammed Siraj bouncer in the nets and, as a result, was out of the first Test. Agarwal was the backup opener to Shubman Gill, who had to return home with a shin injury. So, India had some outside-the-box thinking to do. Whether to play Abhimanyu Easwaran, a reserve player, as an opener, or promote KL Rahul, who was being seen as a middle-order batter, especially after he scored 101 batting at No 5 against Durham in a warm-up match. They decided to go with the latter, and he did not disappoint.
On a rain-curtailed day, when only 33.4 overs were possible, Rahul scored an unbeaten fifty in trying conditions and shared an opening partnership of 97 with Rohit Sharma. However, that wasn't the story of the day. After James Anderson dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara on 4, in walked Captain Virat Kohli. Anderson, who had dismissed Kohli four times for just 19 runs in 2014, bowled a beautiful in-swinger and got him out on the very first ball to the shock of many and the delight of the English team and fans. Ajinkya Rahane was soon to follow. Indian had been reduced to 112-4 from 97-0.
India ended the day at 125-4, with Rahul and Rishabh Pant at the crease, just 58 runs behind England's first-innings score of 183.
Day 3: Ravindra Jadeja's Sabre Celebration Before the Tail Wags
On yet another rain-curtailed day, where only 49.2 overs were possible, Ravindra Jadeja came up with his fifty and followed it with his signature sword celebration. Soon after, the Indian tail started wagging and decided to have some fun. Jasprit Bumrah registered his highest Test score and hit a huge six. Mohammed Shami showed off his defence, and even Siraj managed to hit a boundary. Altogether, they put India in a dominant position, with a first-innings lead of 95.
Rishabh Pant, in his trademark style, decided to entertain the crowd with a quick 25 off 20 balls, comprising three fours and one six. KL Rahul scored another 27 runs to his overnight score of 57 and shared a crucial 60-run partnership with Jadeja before being dismissed for a well-made 84 off Anderson.
Anderson and Ollie Robinson shared nine wickets between them, with a maiden five-wicket haul for Robinson. England faced the Indian bowlers for just 11.1 overs and finished the day without losing a wicket at 25-0.
Day Four: Root, Cause of India's Pain; Bumrah Goes for England's Head & Tail
The skipper helped England roar back with a magnificent 109 before Bumrah managed a five-for to keep India's target down to 209.
Under pressure after conceding a 95-run lead to India, England needed a special performance from Root. The batting conditions had improved by then and the skipper did not disappoint. As if batting on a flat deck, Root put pressure on India and was playing a level above his teammates. He shared a crucial 89-run partnership with Dom Sibley, who threw his wicket away. The gifts continued for India in the form of Dan Lawrence and Jos Buttler, thus helping them to stay in the contest.
Root, still leading from the front, enjoyed decent partnerships with Jonny Bairstow, Lawrence, Buttler, and Sam Curran before nicking one to the keeper off Bumrah, who then dismissed Curran and Stuart Broad in quick succession. All out for 303, England set a target of 209 for India.
The Indian opening pair of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma came out to a charged-up bowling unit and a vociferous crowd rooting for the home team. With the rain soon approaching, all they had to do was leave and defend, which they did. Just 15 minutes before the end of play, Stuart Broad produced a peach to dismiss India's first innings hero, KL Rahul, for 26. Then England went on an all-out attack, which also gave India some scoring opportunities, where Pujara managed to hit three boundaries.
The duo was at the crease when Day 4 finished at 52-1, with India still needing 157 runs for victory.
Day Five: A Party Pooper
The players and the fans would have happily and collectively sung the nursery rhyme if it kept the rain at bay. However, it rained all morning and all afternoon. And with that first Test of the five-match series at Trent Bridge in Nottingham ended in a draw. The promised exciting finish on the last day never happened.
India needed a further 157 runs to go 1-0 up in the series and had nine wickets in hand. Even the batting conditions had improved from the first innings. After the match, both captains said that they were in with a strong chance, but who will ever know? The rain won in the end. All the players, like Bumrah, could do was take a stroll in the rain.
The two teams took four World Test Championship points each from the match and will now face each other in the second Test at Lord's on Thursday.
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