India had a wonderful end to day 1 of the final Specsavers Test, which would have given them hope of ending the series 3-2 instead of the more humiliating, 4-1 scoreline.
However, as has been the case throughout this series, it has been England’s lower order that has more often than not, pulled England out of trouble. England’s last five 9th wicket partnerships have yielded the following runs: 0, 50, 63, 0 & 98 yesterday, as birthday boy Jos Buttler, and Stuart Broad, took England to 214-8 to 312-9 as the game quickly slipped through India’s hands.
India had given up any and all advantage created the previous evening, as England added 106 runs in the morning session. It was a disastrous morning for India. They managed to only dismiss the final two English wickets shortly after lunch for 332, as Buttler was last man dismissed for a brilliant 89. It was then down to India’s batting.
On a cloudy morning in London, batting for India wasn’t going to be an easy affair, and as was expected, India’s opening stand, yet again, failed to contribute anything substantial. Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed off Stuart Broad’s very first delivery for 3. KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara put on a 64 run stand before Rahul was dismissed, which brought Virat Kohli to the crease. India got to 101-3 before Kohli and Rahane put on a dogged 51 run stand.
Debutant Hanuma Vihari, had a baptism of fire when he got to the crease. But he couldn’t have had a better batting partner than Virat Kohli at the other end. Kohli made another 49 crucial runs to take his tally for the series up to 514 runs, and helped to settle Vihari as he spoke to him several times throughout their partnership. Ben Stokes however broke this partnership as Kohli edged to 2nd slip and India were now in trouble.
Credit to Vihari though, he survived, in more ways than one, he was given not out when on 0 to an LBW shout by Broad, only for replays to show the ball would have hit the stumps. Then he was given out LBW, again on 0, but he reviewed and was reprived.
The only positive India can take from an otherwise disastrous day is that of 24-year-old Vihari, who showed the right mental strength required at this level.
India’s failure to bowl England out throughout this series has hurt them. Today alone, the last 3 wickets put on 151 runs. A lot of questions have since been asked of Virat Kohli’s captaincy tactics, as his field placements to Buttler in the morning session left a lot to be desired, allowing him easy runs that let the pressure off England and back onto India.
India struggled along to 174-6 at stumps, and looking at the huge first innings deficit, as they still trail by 158 runs going into day 3.
Day 2 belonged to birthday boy Buttler who has had a remarkable summer, as England wrestled back the initiative and look to end their summer with a 4-1 win over the world no.1 side, India.