Curran swings English fortunes

Curran swings English fortunes

FIERY: England's Sam Curran successfully appeals for the wicket of Hardik Pandya on the second day of the first Test at Edgbaston on Thursday. Reuters

Indian batsmen’s inadequacy against the seaming and swinging ball stood ruthlessly exposed again, undoing all the brilliance of their bowlers. It left them with a mountain to climb in the opening Test against England here on Thursday.

First young left-arm medium pacer Sam Curran, playing just his second Test match, ripped through the top-order before ace all-rounder Ben Stokes flattened the middle order to leave India reeling at 160/6 at tea on the second day. Their only saving grace following an inept batting display at Edgbaston was a fighting effort from skipper Virat Kohli, who soaked up all the pressure while stroking a chance-filled 53 not out (102b, 9x4).

After cleaning up England within six minutes in the morning, India initially had complete control of the proceedings as openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan raised a half-century partnership — the first 50-plus stand in England by Indian openers in 18 innings.

Things, however, turned on their head soon after this moment when England skipper Joe Root introduced Curran in the 10th over. The 20-year-old seaming all-rounder bagged three wickets in a sensational 14-ball spell to knock the stuffing out of the Indians.

Generating good pace and swinging the ball both ways just like India’s Mohammed Shami did on the opening day, Curran first caught Vijay napping with an in-swinging delivery. The Tamil Nadu opener, who had batted wonderfully until then, was a trifle late on his shot and was struck plumb in front.

In walked Rahul and his stay lasted just two balls. The first was an outside edge for a boundary and the second an inside edge that re-arranged his stumps. Rahul got sucked into playing an expansive drive so early in his innings and when he heard the sound of the timber he immediately knew he had played an atrocious shot.

Dhawan then joined his colleagues back in the dressing room with a moment of hash. Patient until then by not flashing at anything outside the off-stump or trying something extravagant, Dhawan lost his concentration by driving at an out-swinger that saw the ball take the edge and into Dawid Malan’s hands at second slip. From 50/0 India had slipped to 59/3.

Kohli and Rahane then went about rebuilding the innings although the latter looked very edgy against Stokes during his stay. While he safely retreated for lunch, his stay ended soon after resumption, a nothing shot against a short delivery resulting in an easy catch for Keaton Jennings. Stokes, who is due in court on August 6 to face a charge of affray, then crashed though the gates of Dinesh Karthik to reduce India to 160/5 and bag his 100th Test wicket.

India could have been shot out before tea had England held onto their catches. They first dropped Kohli and Hardik Pandya off successive deliveries, the guilty slip fielders being Malan and Alastair Cook. Kohli, who edged Anderson four times (three of them fell short) during his stay, was handed another lifeline right after he brought up his first Test half-century on English soil when Malan dropped a difficult chance diving to his right.

Despite the freebies doled out by England and Kohli sweating it out single-handedly, the poor performance by the other batters has left them well behind the eight ball.



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