BOWLED OVER: England lose first Test to India after gripping last day
PA - Zac Goodwin
England lose first Test to India after a final day in which England went from being clear favourites to falling behind in the series.
The hosts were reduced to clinging for dear life in their second innings, unable to survive for 60 overs after surrendering an advantage they had spent three days painstakingly carving out.
In the end they were rounded up for 120 with 8.1 overs left on the fifth evening, Mohammed Siraj bowling James Anderson to seal an unforgettable 151-run victory at the home of cricket.
The match will go down as one of the most compelling see-saw contests the famous old ground has witnessed in recent times, with the constant hum of on-field verbal sparring only adding to what was a conventionally classic encounter.
India had seized the momentum through the unlikeliest of sources as career-best knocks from tailenders Mohammed Shami (56no) and Jasprit Bumrah (34no) unexpectedly left India in control.
England slumped to 67 for five as their top-order collapsed, but Jos Buttler threatened to pull things out of the fire with a 96-ball rearguard that was not quite enough to stop the tourists taking a 1-0 series lead.
England had started as marginal favourites, just 154 behind and needing another four wickets to finish India off, and strengthened their grip when Ollie Robinson picked up danger man Rishabh Pant and Ishant Sharma in his opening spell.
What followed was an extended period of unedifying chaos in the field as Shami and Bumrah ignored their modest reputations with the bat to pile the pressure on with an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 89.
The pair averaged 11.23 and 3.55 coming into the match but wildly over-delivered as they edged, slashed and occasionally smashed an England attack that collectively lost its head. It started when England decided to seek revenge on Bumrah for his hostility towards Anderson earlier in the match, Mark Wood preferring to aim at his head than his stumps.
Sloppy bowling ploys, baffling field placements and even a drop at slip from captain Joe Root kept the hosts reeling where cool heads were needed. A home win was effectively out of the equation by the time Shami romped to his half-century with a series of big blows off Moeen Ali.
India could have declared at lunch, already 259 ahead, but an animated Virat Kohli dragged England back into the field for nine balls before waving his men in.
While some rampant optimists were still pondering if a required rate of 4.5 an over was somehow possible, India were preparing their new-ball raid. For the first time in history England lost both openers for ducks in a home innings, with Rory Burns and Dom Sibley making an unwanted appearance in the annals.
Bumrah’s first ball of the innings spat off a length to spook Burns, who was gone just a few moments later courtesy of an ugly leading edge. Not to be outdone by his batting partner, Shami produced a pearl to Sibley, opening him up like a tin can with seam movement and kissing the outside edge.
With India visibly bouncing with adrenaline, Haseeb Hameed nicked Shami just in front of the cordon. Another couple of inches and England would have been mourning a third duck in two overs and Hameed a second in his comeback appearance.
But there was no happy ending for the 24-year-old, who was dropped in the slips on four and finally fell for nine to Ishant’s nip-backer. Root defied the pressure with a flurry of boundaries off Bumrah, but lost another key ally when Ishant got Jonny Bairstow on the cusp of tea, lbw on referral.
England’s hopes hung heavy on Root (33) but he met his match three balls after the restart, forced to play by Bumrah and feeding Kohli at first slip. Buttler and Moeen held the fort for more than 15 overs but needed luck – Kohli shelling Buttler on two and Moeen caught behind off a no-ball.
Siraj broke the game open with two wickets in two balls, snapping up outside edges off Moeen and Sam Curran. For the latter it was a second golden duck of the game.
Robinson was greeted with a volley of verbals from Kohli – who later offered a conciliatory fist bump – but kept Buttler company bravely for 35 deliveries. With 9.1 overs left in the tank he was beaten by Bumrah, who demanded DRS when the lbw shout was ignored.
Buttler (13) was next, ending almost three hours of stern defence with a feather off Siraj. Anderson could only last three balls, Siraj pegging back off stump to finish with four for 32 to apply the finishing touch in a thrilling encounter.
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