India fast bowler Mohammed Shami was excellent on the opening day of the first Test against England in Birmingham. Bowling with high intensity from the first over itself, Shami maintained a tight line and bowled at good pace throughout the day.
His only had two wickets to show for his efforts but Shami posed tough questions in every spell and was a treat to watch. What made his effort even more remarkable is the fact it came after a tough few months earlier in the year where he met with an accident and was involved in a domestic dispute with his wife.
Shami proved why he is valued so highly by the Indians team. Here is an analysis of his effort on Wednesday.
RUNS CONCEDED: 64
The one bowler who was expected to be undercooked coming into the first Test turned out to be one of the most effective. Shami bowled with venom, touching 90mph and getting late swing all day. He beat the bat numerous times with extravagant swing and on another day would have ended with five wickets. He generally takes his time to get into the groove but on Wednesday, Shami was spot on.
Pace and swing. Shami pitched the ball up and moved the ball both ways. His attack from round the stumps to the left handed Keaton Jennings and Dawid Malan was excellent as he got the ball to hurry of the surface. He was the only Indian quick to hit the bat hard. If he keeps up this form, India will be well served.
This is the Shami India were looking for in South Africa. #ENGvIND— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) August 1, 2018
When you get enough help from the pitch, the onus is on you to make it count. No point beating the bat all day and ending up with just two scalps. Shami’s experience should have told him to change his line of attack to get nicks, lbw or bowled. When the going is good, you need to cash in as a bowler because there will be days when you bowl on tracks flat as a table.
VERDICT: 7 out of 10
It could have been so much more in the wickets column. But can’t fault Shami for the skill and discipline he showed. Has given India great hope that they can get 20 wickets quickly even without Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in England.
England captain Joe Root missed out on yet another Test ton as he was run out by Virat Kohli for 80 on the opening day of the first Test in Birmingham.
Root looked in fine touch and was nearing his first century after 10 straight fifties. But in the 63rd over, Jonny Bairstow tucked Ravi Ashwin to midwicket and Root decided to go for a risky second.
Kohli swooped in from mid-wicket, collected the ball, turned around and threw the ball in one motion. Root was found short at the non-striker’s end as the India skipper got a direct hit.
The India captain, as expected, was thrilled and made everyone know about it. Along with his usual extravagant celebration and finger-on-the-lips sign, Kohli also did the ‘mic drop’ sign.
Cricket fans will remember Root did the ‘mic drop’ celebration after scoring a series-winning century in the Leeds ODI against India. After that celebration, Root said he immediately regretted his celebration, which he called a ‘car crash’.
But the Indians, and Kohli, haven’t forgotten. See the video below.
Getting dropped from any team is not the end of the world. Team combination, pitch conditions and opposition some time force team managements to make strategic calls in the final XI. However, the decision to drop Cheteshwar Pujara from the India side for the first Test against England will be hard to digest not just for the player but for many cricket fans as well.
Pujara has been out for form in red ball cricket, there is no doubt about that. He would have been under pressure had he been selected for the first Test; his recent stint in county cricket with Yorkshire was abysmal – an average of less than 15 after 12 innings.
Even so, Pujara is a Test specialist. Whenever India tour outside Asia, Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have generally been seen as the batsmen who can hold one end together when the conditions are challenging. But for the first Test that started on Wednesday, India went in for the uncertain batting for Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order instead of the generally assured, even if sometimes unproductive, batting of Pujara.
In the last three years, Cheteshwar Pujara has made 2458 Test runs. Virat Kohli is the only Indian batsman to make more. #ENGvIND— The Cricket Prof. (@CricProf) August 1, 2018
Yes, Pujara doesn’t score freely but in Tests you need one player in you bating order to be able to block a session or so. That someone like Dhawan who bagged a pair in the warm-up game before the Test and has a suspect technique against the moving ball was chosen ahead of Pujara would be a bitter pill to swallow.
In 2016, Pujara was called out by the Indian management for slow scoring. From 2016 onwards, he got involved in six of India’s next eight run outs. His solid technique has also started to desert him with South Africa pace ace Dale Steyn dismissing him for successive ducks in English domestic cricket in June.
And now he has lost his place to Dhawan whose technique against the moving ball is flaky. Pujara is not the fittest 30-year-old in the world and offers a very specific style of batting. A player who was once called the next Rahul Dravid of Indian cricket is now seen as a batsmen with excess baggage without substantial returns. It will be a long way back for Pujara if Dhawan and KL Rahul cement their positions.