Rain robs India of victory in the Nottingham Test

By Kersi Meher-Homji

India needed only 157 runs on the final day with nine wickets in hand to beat England but it rained incessantly and the first Test in Nottingham ended in a draw.

What a disappointment!

Opening batsman Lokesh Rahul and opening bowler Jasprit Bumrah were the heroes who brought India on the brink of victory.

Winning the toss England batted but were bowled out for 183, fast bowlers Bumrah capturing 4 for 46 and Mohammed Shami 3 for 28. But for England’s captain hitting 64 runs, the total would have been much lower.

India started promisingly with opener Rohit Sharma and Rahul adding 97 runs. It appeared India would reach 400 but Sharma was caught in the last over of the first day.

Next day India lost wickets, including that of Virat Kohli’s for a first ball duck. From none for 97 at one stage they were 4 for 112 as England’s quick bowlers took control. Then came flamboyant Ravindra Jadeja to bat and changed the complexion of the game. He hit eight fours and a six in his entertaining 56. When he reached his 50 he exhibited his bat swinging exercise a la musketeer!

Then India’s tail swung with Bumrah smashing 28 runs with three fours and a six and India totaled 278, a handy lead of 95. England’s quickies James Anderson (4 for 54) and Ollie Robinson (5 for 85) took all Indian wickets excepting that of Ajinkya Rahane who was run out. To point out a quirky observation: all India’s wickets in the first innings fell to bowlers whose surnames ended with ”“son!

Anderson took his 621st wicket in this, his 163rd Test to go past India’s spinner Anil Kumble (619 wickets in 132 Tests). The top two wicket takers in Test cricket are Sri Lanka’s spinner Muthiah Muralitharan (800 wickets in 133 Tests) and Australia’s spinner Shane Warne (708 in 145).

Trailing India by 95 runs, England scored 303 in the second innings, Root hitting a splendid 109 enriched with 14 classical boundaries. Bumrah again seamed accurately to take 5 for 64 and impressive match figures of 9 for 110.

Set 157 runs to win, India appeared in a winning position scoring 1 for 52, Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara batting confidently at stumps on day 4. But it rained incessantly on the final day and the match was drawn with Joe Root (64 and 109 runs) made Man of the Match.

Root said at the presentation, “It was a great Test match, the weather’s robbed us of what would have been an entertaining final day. Even 40 overs could have given us something exciting. Hopefully, we can take some of the good stuff we’ve done this week into the rest of the series. Felt like there were going to be nine opportunities, it was just about making the game go long enough and make sure we had our catchers in. It’s a shame the weather sort of won today.

“There are certain areas we want to keep working on, we obviously want to score more runs at the top of the order, and taking the chances we create but Test cricket is challenging. We need to keep working on our game, and also keep the fun element in there. We’re going to have to deal with [the schedule, the shifts in format] as long as we have this schedule. It helps to have experience. It’s a little harder for the younger guys but none of us in the dressing room is using it as an excuse. There was a lot of enjoyment in how I batted and a little bit of belief there too. India have a very good seam attack, and they tested our defence for long periods of time, and from my point of view it was about putting the pressure back on them.”

Virat Kohli responded, “We were expecting rain on days 3 and 4, and it chooses to arrive on day 5 when we were looking to have a good crack at the target. We wanted to start strong and heading into day 5 we felt we had the chance right in front of the ball. We certainly felt we were right on top and it’s a shame we couldn’t complete day five.

“We got to 50 overnight, a real positive for us. It wasn’t just about survival, it was about getting the boundaries when we got the chance. It’s the hard work of three-odd weeks (the lower-order batting). They were in the nets regularly and we got a lead of 95 purely from their efforts. I think they did a tremendous job with the bat. Most likely it will be a template going ahead, but we’ve always been adaptable as well, to the conditions and pace of the wicket. It’s going to be an exciting series to be a part of, as India-England series always is.”

Well said, Virat. The second Test starts at Lord’s, London on Thursday the 12th.

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