It was one of those days for England when everything seemed to be going their way- right from the Wednesday morning toss till the beginning of the final session of the day, it looked like Joe Root and his men came out there with a purpose as the England batsmen looked all set for a strong total on the board.
It would be fair to say that as the day progressed, India’s game grew from strength to strength and had the dropped catches been taken, India would have probably started batting on the First Day itself. Perhaps fielding was the only area in which India did not improve as time elapsed and two not so difficult catches were dropped- one in the morning session by Rahen at slips and second in the final over before the end of day’s play by Karthik behind the stumps-both of which had the potential to change the narrative of the game.
The second dropped catch by Karthik could still haunt India on Thursday morning if the last wicket partnership is able to add some valuable runs here. However, that looks unlikely, given how Indian bowlers have bowled so far in the Test match- neat and precise. On a day when bowlers didn’t do too much wrong, it was a brilliance in the field by captain Virat Kohli which helped India came rushing into the game when the odds looked against them. Kohli’s unending quest to win helped him cease the opportunity with both hands when he sensed an opportunity to run out Joe Root on the non-striker’s end. Kohli did not need any second invitation and got him out with a gem of a throw. A lot was spoken about Virat Kohli the batsman and the captain in match previews, news channels, social media- but on Wednesday in Edgbaston- it was Virat Kohli the fielder, who helped India satge a pretty good back.
If you are an Indian fan, the story would look all the more empathetic since India have gone through numerous such batting collapses in the past. From 216-3, England were reduced to 283/9 after Virat’s direct hit removed England’s skipper and probably the biggest hurdle in that batting lineup- Joe Root.
On a day in England with cloud cover, where one would expect the Indian quicks to come good, it was Ravichandran Ashwin who was the pick of the bowlers for India, picking up 4 wickets for 60 runs, not allowing the English batsmen to settle down by mixing it up cleverly. For all the talk about Ashwin’s leg breaks, it was his genuine off breaks and some seam up deliveries that did the trick for him on Day 1. Experts who were surprised with India playing only one Indian spinner, were silenced by the end of the day as each of the four bowlers had something to show in the wickets column; except Hardik Pandya who looked out of touch and frankly, wasn’t required either.
If India do manage to pick up the lone wicket early in the day on Thursday morning, India’s batsmen will have a wonderful opportunity to try and get to a good start and aim at a First innings lead. The Indian batting especially- Shikhar Dhawan needs to prove that his place in the 11, ahead of a batsman of Pujara’s stature was completely justified. However, if he lets the pressure get to him, it would be very difficult for him to score runs. Instead Dhawan and Vijay, India'sopening duo should try and go out there and enjoy themselves, trying to score as many runs as possible. The simpler the mindset, the easier it is to concentrate.
Thursday, bright English morning, James Anderson and Stuart Broad running in to the Indian openers, one cannot expect a better sight as a cricket fan.
A promising day of cricket awaits us from Edgbaston, Birmingham. Broadcast starts at 15:30 Hours (IST).