Cricket: Anderson cuts through India as England prosper on day one

Anderson takes three wickets for six runs in pivotal third Test dominated by home side

 England’s  James Anderson celebrates taking the wicket of Virat Kohli of India at Emerald Headingley Stadium. Photograph: Michael Steele/Michael Steele/Getty Images

England’s James Anderson celebrates taking the wicket of Virat Kohli of India at Emerald Headingley Stadium. Photograph: Michael Steele/Michael Steele/Getty Images

 

Day 1 of 5: India 78 (40.4 ovs) (J Anderson 3-6, O Robinson 2-16, S Curran 2-27) trail England 120-0 (42 ovs) (H Hameed 60no, R Burns 52no) by 42 runs

A run of five defeats in seven Tests has challenged Joe Root’s naturally upbeat disposition but come the end of a memorable opening day at Headingley – the two-year anniversary of Ben Stokes and his Ashes miracle – the England captain’s smile was broad and apparently trouble-free.

Over the course of three sessions on his home ground Root witnessed his side dominate India and take an early grip on this pivotal third Test. They first rolled the tourists for 78 all out in 40.4 overs – Jimmy Anderson leading the way with figures of three for six – before closing on 120 for none from 42 thanks to a commanding response from Haseeb Hameed, 58 not out, and Rory Burns unbeaten on 52.

It meant Root could spend his afternoon perched on the Dickie Bird balcony rather than fighting fire with the bat out in the middle. There was much for him to admire too, Hameed and Burns batting with elan in watery sunshine, nullifying India’s four-pronged pace attack and delivering England’s first century opening stand for a year. Burns even pulled Mohammed Siraj for six into the Western Terrace, offering shades of the absent Stokes himself, while Hameed purred like the teenager of five years ago.

All this provided Root with time to reflect on a near-perfect bowling performance that, along with Anderson, saw Ollie Robinson (two for 16), Craig Overton (three for 14) and Sam Curran (two for 27) all contribute.

The pitch was no snooker table – Virat Kohli elected to bat under a mix of cloud and blue sky – but there was plenty of assistance to reward the nagging lines they delivered and that India subsequently failed to emulate.

Temptation

There could be a temptation to suggest that England were driven by revenge after that final-day meltdown at Lord’s; that somehow India had poked the bear and were met with a fearsome response from a side who had spent a week stewing on that ill-judged bouncer plan to India’s tail and the verbals that flew in both directions.

Certainly they corrected some of the mistakes of that fateful morning. The short ball was used sparingly as a fuller length from Robinson, Overton and Curran after lunch claimed the final six wickets for just 22 runs. Overton and Curran both found themselves on hat-tricks too, only for 16,000 sighs to follow on both occasions.

But more simply this day was defined by Anderson, one of the finest exponents of the moving ball, setting the standard in obliging conditions, with the support cast following suit and a touring side unable to cope. Excellence of execution, rather than some collective flexing of muscle, felt more at play as the wickets tumbled; so, too, when it was England’s turn to bat.

Anderson once said he used to hate Headingley and upon arrival his first thought was to “turn round and go home”. But since switching to the Football Stand End in 2015, a previous bowling average of 41 on this side of the Pennines has plummeted. Here, after Kohli won his first toss in nine Tests on English soil, he delivered an immaculate eight-over spell of five maidens and three wickets.

This was not a morning for late arrivals, Anderson striking with his fifth ball when KL Rahul was suckered into a loose drive that set Jos Buttler on his way to becoming just the second wicketkeeper, after Australia’s Brad Haddin, to claim the first five wickets of a Test innings caught behind.

Chesteshwar Pujara was then tormented by a succession of inswingers before the one that went away and tickled a second edge. It meant the latest instalment of Kohli-Anderson duel would begin early.

Suddenly the bars were empty and the crowd was captivated. But come the drinks break the show was already over, a wobble-seam delivery from Anderson having jagged away and met the edge of a checked drive for another simple Buttler take. Kohli was gone for seven, his international century drought having extended to 50 innings, and his tormentor celebrated like this was his backyard.

All the while Rohit Sharma had been batting with purpose; the runs weren’t flowing but he was equal to the challenge. And for the best part of an hour, from 21 for three, he and Ajinkya Rahane resisted diligently as Anderson took a well-earned breather. But with just two balls to negotiate before the safety of lunch, Sharma could be seen looking up to the heavens from the non-striker’s end, Rahane having poked at a fifth-stump ball from Robinson on 16 to leave India 56 for four.

Injury

Having missed the back end of the session to have a thumb injury seen to, Root returned and what followed would have made any lingering pain disappear. The fact he didn’t even need to return to Anderson said plenty too, Robinson profiting from Rishabh Pant’s lazy waft behind after the resumption before Overton and Curran shut things down handsomely.

The key wicket was Sharma who, after 104 balls of stoicism but a scoreboard going nowhere, attempted to pull Overton, only to cloth the ball to mid-on for a top score of 19. Six down, England were into India’s tail but this time the heroes of Lord’s were knocked over for a couple of golden ducks and four wickets fell with the score on 67.

Shami edged his first ball from Overton to slip and Jasprit Bumrah was trapped lbw by Curran after the left-armer had dispensed with Ravindra Jadeja in similar fashion. Once Overton completed the removal of Siraj it was over to Hameed and Burns, the pair delivering the type of response that has felt beyond English batsmen recently.

Headingley is the place of miracles, of course, so perhaps it is unwise to declare a match here to be done. But one day into this third Test it is fair to say the mood has shifted significantly and a 1-1 scoreline appears the likeliest outcome.

– Guardian

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