India 278 and 52-1 (Rahul 26, Rohit 12*) require 157 runs to beat England 183 & 303 (Root 109, Curran 32, Bumrah 5-64, Thakur 2-37)
Out of all the insurmountable cricket played during a year, a close fought away Test tour is undoubtedly the pinnacle of the game. Coming into Day 4, India sat comfortably ahead, nurturing a lead of 70 runs and seeming to dictate the business ahead.
England’s Test team, one of the better ones in world cricket, have been going through a tricky phase when it comes to their batting, with their top order not performing up to expectation and an unstable middle order.
India went into the fourth day, confident on the back of their 1st innings restrictive effort, hoping to get the opposition out quickly. But good batting conditions, inaccurate loose bowling and a brilliant ton by Joe Root savaged the game in the England’s favour.
England Captain Joe Root shines with a belated ton
Joe Root was undoubtedly the star of the day, batting with panache for his 109 of 172 balls, stringing the team together and holding up one end for most of the innings. It is noteworthy that Root has become the highest run-scorer for England in international cricket across formats, a feat which he achieved in the first innings itself when he made 64 valuable runs. He has now piled up 15,889 runs in international cricket to break the record of former opener Alastair Cook who had amassed 15,737 runs across formats.
For all the criticism he has faced, Root successfully converted his start to a strong 100 in an otherwise low scoring matchup, displaying his class and temperament towards the game.
England compile 303 runs, India set target of 209
England put up 303 runs for their second innings giving India a target of 209 to win. KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma got off to a good start, but the changing English skies favoured the home team during the end of play resulting in Rahul’s wicket off Stuart Broad.
Looking back at the day, England started off in the morning at 25-0. They lost their first two wickets as Burns and Crawley went back to the dressing room in consecutive overs. England who were still trailing by 49 runs, sat awkwardly when their captain, Joe Root, arrived at the crease.
Heroes are what heroes do. The captain while leading the team from the front put up an 89-run partnership along with Dom Sibley, playing out 174 balls and scoring the bulk of the runs (71) to get the team to lunch at 119-2 along with winning the crucial 1st session of play on Day 4.
India’s bowlers set record but were a little off colour in the second innings
India’s bowlers struggled to find the right line and length on a pitch which wasn’t offering much to begin with. A well-set Root, made the most of the loose balls coming his way. Mohammed Shami, who looked in good touch in the first innings, taking 3 wickets at a low economy of 1.64, struggled in the second innings while giving away 72 runs (economy of 4.54) with only one wicket to his name.
Moreover, Shardul Thakur who seemed in good rhythm wasn’t a 100 per cent fit, forcing Kohli to extract more overs from other pacers, not helping the cause.
Jasprit Bumrah, showing his class, took another 5-fer, while Shardul and Mohammed Siraj took 2 wickets each. It resulted in an eventual record for Team India as the pacers took all the opposition’s 20 wickets in the Test for only the second time in India’s Test annals. The first time it happened was back in 2018 at Johannesburg against South Africa. It is noteworthy that Bumrah ended with match figures of 9/110 and he had taken 7 wickets in the Johannesburg Test as well.
England build their lead around Joe Root
Coming back to England’s innings progression, by the 33rd over, the hosts were able to level the scores with the loss of only 2 wickets but more importantly, a set Joe Root, with runs coming with relative ease, propelled the momentum on the side of the home team.
It is said that lights at Trent Bridge, seem to always affect the game being played. Overcast skies post lunch made for a gripping passage of play, where the set batsmen played and missed several “aggressive” looking shots. Sibley was the first to blink, giving away his wicket on a loose attempted drive on the up, which caught the inside edge and landed straight into the keeper’s gloves, departing at 28 of 133 deliveries.
Jonny Bairstow was the next batsmen on the crease. He looked in good touch, playing positive cricket and mounting up a partnership of 42 along with root, in quick time (70 balls). Unfortunately, a pull shot right from the middle of the bat ended by finding a fielder to end his well-made innings of 30 (50).
The game was delicately poised at tea, with Root on 96* and a lead 140 runs. The English crowd rallied their team on, singing songs and trying to get under the skin of the Indian team.
Although wickets seemed to fall, the pace and relative ease of striking showed worrying sign for India. Shardul Thakur who was then introduced into the attack took two crucial wickets, one on either side of the session break proving some relief.
The new ball, luckily, found something off the pitch dismissing the remaining four batsmen in a span of six overs with the crucial wickets of Root and Curran. Jasprit Bumrah, with his many variations, game plans, strategy, prompt execution and maybe a few too many no balls, took 5 wickets (Sibley, Crawley, Root, Curran and Broad) putting his stamp of authority on this game.
India at 52/1 at stumps, need another 157 on the final day
The 14 overs batted by India before close, was a very difficult passage with the ball seeming to find extra bounce and pace off the wicket. KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma, to their credit, defended exceptionally before Rahul went to an almost unplayable delivery off Broad.
India, chasing a target of 209 runs with an entire day’s play and 9 wickets in hand, seem to have weathered the worst but if today’s cricket is anything to go by, England cannot be discounted. The first session will be a crucial determinant where India should look to bat the day without taking any unneeded risks to secure their first win of the series. Read More: India vs England 1st Test 2021: Eng succumb to 183 against Bumrah, Shami's quality bowling