India on the verge of victory

India on the verge of victory

On FIRE: India's Jasprit Bumrah (left) celebrates with K L Rahul after dismissing England's Jos Buttler on Tuesday. AFP

England’s Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes essayed knocks of great character and discipline but the brilliance of Jasprit Bumrah — firstly in the morning and then late in the day — left India on the threshold of victory on Tuesday.

Taking the new ball in the evening after having bowled 18 overs in two marathon spells, Bumrah (5/85) produced a sensational spell 5-1-25-3 to wreck England’s hopes of an epic comeback at Trent Bridge.

Bumrah first removed the well-set Buttler (106, 176b, 21x4) to break a stubborn 169-run fifth-wicket stand that the right-hander shared with Stokes. The Gujarat pacer, employing his usual wide-of-the-crease strategy, darted the ball back in and Buttler, assuming the ball would climb over him, just offered his pads.

Umpire Chris Gaffaney, after some consideration, raised his index finger as India jumped with joy after being put through a major grind by Buttler and Stokes for the better part of the day. Buttler, unsurprisingly, reviewed it but when the large screens showed the ball would be clipping the bails, he trudged off heart-broken while India exulted having got the wicket they had been pursuing all afternoon.

Bumrah, who dismissed Root in the morning with a wonderful exhibition of bowling, then removed Jonny Bairstow with a peach. The wicketkeeper, walking into bat with a fractured finger in hope of delaying the inevitable, was squared up by a ball that pitched and straightened enough to disturb his off-stump. In the very next over Bumrah sent Chris Woakes packing with a sharp bouncer before Hardik Pandya ended Stokes’ (62, 187b, 6x4) stay.

India though couldn’t seal the deal and were made to return for final day, thanks to England’s tail. Adil Rashid (30 not out), after posting 50-run partnership for the ninth wicket with Stuart Broad, had last man James Anderson (8 n.o.) for company at the crease. At 311/9, England trailed by 210 runs. 

Buttler and Stokes earlier gave India a solid work out. The duo, joining forces with England in deep trouble, produced a performance that was filled with guts and concentration. Know for their big-hitting prowess, both showed a different dimension of their character to frustrate India’s march.

Buttler, dropped on one by wicketkeeper Risbhabh Pant after he went the wrong way and couldn’t make the late adjustment, mixed attack with defence in bringing up his maiden Test century. Stokes, with many questioning his place in the side, largely presented a dead bat to everything.

India, with a massive total behind them, attacked relentlessly. Skipper Virat Kohli tried every possible trick in his book but Buttler and Stokes were ready for the fight. Although they were fighting a herculean battle with hopes of a draw a remote possibility, they refused to give up.

Bumrah found the edge of Buttler on four occasions but the batsman survived all of it. Stokes got a reprieve when umpire turned down a huge leg-before wicket appeal from Ashwin. They took those chances and kept soldiering on to delay the inevitable.

Kohli then had no option but to take the new ball and unleash his ace weapon Bumrah who delivered yet again. He was spot on with every ball despite having covered plenty of miles throughout the day. This was exactly the kind of performance he needed after returning from injury.