India beat England by 203 runs at Trent Bridge to make a roaring return in the series after being down by two games post the debacle at Lord’s. Led by the Man of the Match, Virat Kohli, India posted 329 in the first innings under brighter skies and bowled out England for 161, courtesy a sensational burst from all-rounder Hardik Pandya. After piling on a huge lead, Jasprit Bumrah led the charge with the ball and wiped out England's last-gasp efforts to help India bounce back. Here we bring the report card of players from either side from the first Test.
Burying his 2014 demons in scintillating fashion, Virat Kohli made 97 in the first innings and followed it up with a fine hundred that sent a clear statement to the opposition. The Indian skipper put on 159 for the fourth wicket with Ajinkya Rahane in the first innings. The partnership proved to be extremely crucial. The second innings hundred displayed the other side of Kohli as he ground England with stoic batting. 200 runs in the Test and he is hungry for more. His captaincy also stood out as he was clever with his bowling changes and field placements.
In a performance that silenced several critics including Michael Holding, Hardik Pandya proved to be the enforcer with a five-wicket haul in the first innings that accelerated England's collapse. He picked up four wickets in the space of 10 deliveries, a period that saw England go from 110/5 to 128/9. He also established his all-round credentials by hitting a run-a-ball half-century in the second innings as India piled on a mammoth lead.
Struggling at 62/4 chasing 521 for victory, Jos Buttler’s positive intent and composed innings lent England a bit of stability. Alongside a calm Ben Stokes, Buttler resurrected England's innings, evoking hopes of a positive result at one point of time. His battle with Jasprit Bumrah would perhaps feature among the highlights of this series. At the end of it all, Buttler had cracked a maiden Test hundred which unfortunately did not materialise into something bigger that would have sufficed to save the team from the defeat. That said, Buttler has put behind doubts regarding his place in the side. He also hit a brisk 32-ball 39 in the first innings when everyone else faltered, to take England's total past 150.
With his form hitting an all-time low, the Indian vice-captain needed a clutch of straw and Trent Bridge proved to be just that. In an innings reminiscent of his hundred at Lord's on day one four years back, Rahane hit a fine half-century (81) and stitched together a crucial 159-run stand with Kohli. He fell 19 short of a ton but not before he had given the side a firm platform to thrive on.
With his queer angle and extra zip, Bumrah was the pick of India's fast bowlers. Making a return to the side after injury, Bumrah was excellent throughout the match. He constantly kept hurrying the batsmen and surprised them with the odd short delivery. As always, his accuracy built pressure and it was in the final session of day four that he went rampant to break the dangerous Stokes-Buttler partnership and clinch his second Test five-for. He however, needs to work on his overstepping problems though.
While he is heavily criticized for his batting overseas, Dhawan was the unsung hero for India at the top in this Test, stringing together two half-century opening partnerships with KL Rahul. Both times, the Delhi batsman was exemplary in not allowing the opposition’s new ball bowlers to stick to a channel. India's top order troubles were hurting them badly. So the opening stand was very crucial considering that India's batting desperately needed to click. Dhawan has all but ensured his place in the side for the next two Tests but bigger contributions would be the need of the hour.
Heavily criticised for being overtly slow, Pujara started off with a flurry of boundaries in the second innings with India's lead already soaring. He went back into a shell post the fiery start but ensured he wouldn't throw it all away. The half-century would give Pujara the much-needed confidence for the remaining games.
Returning to the Test side, Ben Stokes looked a tad bogged down and failed to make a mark with bat or ball in the first innings. He returned the second time around to hit a composed and very uncharacteristic half-century in a bid to resurrect England. Along with Buttler, Stokes put on 169 for the fifth wicket to keep India at bay for a while. The all-rounder faced 187 balls for his 62 runs in what turned out to be his slowest Test half-century.
After looking sorely out of touch in the first two Tests, Rahul appeared more relaxed with Dhawan taking the steering. There were glimpses of his flamboyance and resolve in this Test. He hit a patient 23 off 53 balls in the first innings to lay the platform and then went down his partner's path in the second outing, racing to 36 in 33 balls but soon fell to Ben Stokes. Despite not being at the top of his game, Rahul has shown enough character to be retained in the playing XI for the next Test at least.
The lanky Indian seamer finally appeared to have grown into the bowler India wanted him to be several years ago. He had the wood over Alastair Cook and dismissed the veteran opener in both innings. Ishant was right on the money against the lefties and can be anointed the tag of the leader of the pace attack without a shade of doubt.
Starting his career off with a six off the second ball, Pant announced his arrival in style. During his 51-ball stay at the wicket in the first innings, he displayed decent technique and maturity for his 24 runs. He was calm and composed. He didn't have much impact in the second innings but that time India were looking to accelerate. This is a huge learning curve though and it's not just his batting, Pant shone with the gloves too, grabbing seven catches in the match there was an odd drop too, that of Buttler in the second innings but this experience will help him a lot going forward.
Rashid dismissed the unstoppable Virat Kohli in the first innings and picked up a further three wickets in the second innings, dismissing Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Mohammad Shami. That said, his place will surely be under discussion as England look to seal their batting woes for the fourth Test. He did play some confident shots in the second innings but the leggie is likely to make way for Moeen Ali, who has just hit a double century playing in the County Championship for Worcestershire and also picked up four wickets to help his side to victory over Yorkshire.
The seam bowling all-rounder was worked over by two sharp bouncers from Pandya and Bumrah after his century at Lord's in the previous Test. Woakes, though, had already made a mark in the match when he sent back India's top three in the first innings in a burst of an impressive spell of swing bowling.
The Lancashire seamer was didn't have the same impact as Lord's at a venue where England's quicker bowlers have generally thrived in the past. Anderson still managed to keep the Indians on a leash with his appreciable control and was unlucky beating the bat several times. He accounted for four wickets across both innings. England need more from him and it will be interesting to see how the 36-year-old holds up after three Tests.
All Ashwin had to do this Test was to give the quicker bowlers some time to catch a breather. This he did perfectly, keeping things tight with the ball and going at less than 2 runs per over. He sealed the Test for India early on day 5 with his only wicket in the match. His role was minimal with the bat.
With his defense questioned after Ravichandran Ashwin worked him over with two brilliant deliveries in the first Test, Cook has a new nemesis in Ishant Sharma. The tall seamer had dismissed Cook at Lord's and accounted for the southpaw both times here at Trent Bridge. Cook has shown resolve in bits but has looked a shadow of his past and needs to up the ante with England desperately needing the openers to fire.
Broad, like his partner Anderson, was bizarrely listless with his sole mark in the game coming when he sent back Rahane, Pant and Ashwin in the first innings. With the visitor's lead growing in the second innings, Broad did little to enforce damage control and was evidently struggling to find the right lines.
With Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and even Hardik Pandya stepping up with the ball, Shami was slightly off-colour and returned to his erratic ways. He was all over the place in the first innings, conceding 56 off his 10 overs. He was once again the target for English batsmen in the second innings, leaking at 4.1 runs per over.
Alastair Cook's search for a dependable partner is set to continue as Keaton Jennings, after teasing to impress early in the series, appeared woefully out of touch at Trent Bridge. He was undone by poor judgment in both innings, poking at balls that he should have left alone.
The England skipper had a forgettable Test match, managing just 16 and 13 across both innings. He was perhaps a tad unlucky to be judged caught in the first innings with ambiguity around whether the ball had bounced before Rahul caught it. Stuck in patchy touch, Root was flummoxed by Bumrah in the second innings before the skipper could settle in at the wicket.
The immensely talented Pope was strangled down the leg-side in the first innings and was the victim of a sensational catch by Virat Kohli in the second. Both times, Pope looked audacious at the crease but could not carry on and make an impact. The 20-year-old is likely to be given a longer rope but with a few options in the wings, he will know that he needs to step up.
Usually, a reassuring force in England's lower middle-order, Bairstow missed out in the first innings as he fell to a superb Pandya outswinger. Injured by the time he came out to bat the second time, the keeper was cleaned up by a jaffa from Bumrah for a golden duck.
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor
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