India fast bowler Mohammed Siraj on fire as he picks up 24 wickets in three matches

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Mohammed Siraj.

Fast bowler Mohammad Siraj has been on fire in first-class cricket, picking up 24 wickets across three matches to stake his claim for a spot in the Test match set-up.

In the ongoing unofficial Test in Bengaluru against South Africa ‘A’ , Hyderabad quick Siraj – playing for India ‘A’ – picked up five wickets in the first innings and 4-18 in 10 overs in the second to take his match tally to nine. The Proteas are only four wickets down with one more day’s play left, which means Siraj can do more damage.

Before this match, Siraj was in top form in England for India ‘A’, picking up eight wickets across two innings against West Indies ‘A’ and seven wickets against the England Lions. That means he has already snared 24 wickets from three first-class matches with the possibility of more.

India are missing the services of key Test fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and  Bhuvneshwar Kumar and their absence was felt in the first test against England in Birmingham which the visitors lost by 31 runs.

Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav did not make much an impact on an extremely helpful pitch and in a game of such small margins, a better effort from either of the two could have done the job for India.

With Ishant Sharma the only Indian fast bowler to bowl consistently in the opening Test, the management will be looking elsewhere to bolster the pace attack for the remaining four matches. There is Shardul Thakur in the squad but the management could look at someone like Siraj as he has bowled well in England, is a proper red-ball bowler and is among the wickets.

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England v India: Curran's defiant fifty, Ishant's fiery spell and other talking points

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The first Test between England and India was left finely poised after the visitors finished Day Three on 110-5 chasing 194 to win in Birmingham.

Virat Kohli was batting on 43 when stumps were called, with England pacer Stuart Broad taking two top-order wickets.

Earlier, Ishant Sharma picked up five wickets for India but England’s Sam Curran defied the visitors with the bat as he hit a fine 63 from 65 balls and took the team to 180.

We take a look at the talking points from another brilliant day’s cricket at Edgbaston.

ASHWIN DECIMATES THE TOP ORDER

Off-spinner Ravi Ashwin has been a revelation this Test. He has generally struggled to make an impact on a consistent basis outside Asia. But in the first Test in Birmingham, the off-spinner has been in the thick of things from the very first session. Getting the ball to turn and dip, Ashwin caused serious problems to both left and right-handed batsmen.

In the first innings, he rattled the stumps of Alastair Cook off a front foot defence. He finished with four in the first innings. And just to show his first innings dismissal of Cook wasn’t a fluke, Ashwin got the England opener out in exactly the same fashion in the second. He then rattled the English top order by getting Keaton Jennings to edge one to second slip and had Joe Root tucking a ball which turned and bounced to leg slip. He finished with seven wickets in the Test.

ISHANT’S FIERY SPELL

Ishant Sharma struck either side of lunch.

Ishant Sharma struck either side of lunch.

The leader of India’s pace attack Ishant has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah injured, he not only has to hold one end up but also pick wickets. And either side of lunch, Ishant came up with one the most hostile spells of his career.

Getting the ball to zip across from round the wicket, he had Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes nicking near unplayable late away swingers to the slip region. Jonny Bairstow didn’t have much of a clue when he brushed a late away swinger from wide of the crease to slip. And in the first over after lunch, Ishant got one to climb on Jos Buttler who could only get a faint edge behind.

For the sheer artistry on display, it was one of the best spells of Ishant’s career, right up there with his seven-wicket haul in the 2014 Lord’s Test and the spell to Ricky Ponting in the 2008 Perth Test.

CURRAN’S FIGHTBACK

Left-arm seamer Sam Curran has enjoyed a sensational Test. The most under-rated bowler of the England line-up, hardly any one – including this humbled author – expected Curran to be the gamechanger against the top-ranked Indians.

In the first innings with the bat, Curran looked in control as he made a 71-ball 24 which helped the hosts to 287. With the ball, he got the cream of the Indian top-order after the visitors added fifty for the first wicket. His four wickets were thoroughly deserved but it was his batting in the second innings which was the most impressive.

With England staring down the barrel at 87-7 and all recognised batsmen gone, the 20-year-old Curran showed composure beyond his years as he cracked a 65-ball 63 by playing authentic cricket strokes. Then on Friday, he got Ajinkya Rahane out with a fine in-dipper.

If England do win the first Test, it will be largely down to Curran’s remarkable all-round display.

BROAD GETS THE BALL TO TALK

Stuart Broad went wicketless in the first innings, which was odd given the amount of help for quick bowlers. But he wasn’t going to miss out a second time. Getting the ball to curve both sides late, Broad got Murali Vijay lbw with the batsman offering no shot and got fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan to nick behind.

Earlier with the bat, Broad looked like he was on top of his game. His 11 off 28 balls in the company of Curran got him in the right frame of mind to bend his back with the new ball and it paid off handsomely.

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England v India Test 2018: Analysis of fast bowler Ishant Sharma's performance in the Birmingham Test

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Fast bowler Ishant Sharma had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders coming into the first Test in Birmingham against England.

Virat Kohli’s men entered the first Test without their premier fast bowlers – Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. That meant the Delhi pacer had to make up for their absence and lead the Indian attack.

He did that in fine fashion on Friday, picking up 5-51 to bring India right back into the Test and give the visitors great shot at victory.

Here we analyse the performance of Ishant in the second innings on Friday.

STATISTICS

OVERS: 13

MAIDENS: 0

RUNS CONCEDED: 51

WICKETS:  5

ECONOMY: 3.9

30-SECOND REPORT

Ishant was at his absolute best on Friday. Getting the ball to move a long way after pitching, Ishant made England batsmen play at the deliveries and his bowling from around the wicket was especially effective. The 29-year-old took four wickets either side of lunch and finished with a five-for which set up the match nicely. He generally comes up with one brilliant spell every Test and luckily for India, it came at a critical juncture.

GOT RIGHT

His angles. Ishant was getting the ball to move considerably after pitching and he used different angles to the left-handed Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes. The acute change was directed at the stumps, which meant both batsmen had to play at it but could only manage an edge.

He got Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler with late away moving deliveries bowled from slightly wide of the crease. A masterclass in control and execution.

GOT WRONG

Started to lose his line once Sam Curran and Adil Rashid showed some defiance and went after the ball with hard hands. Ishant should have stuck to his original plan of bowling at the six stump as there was enough help on offer and the lower-order batsmen might have nicked the ball sooner rather than later. After reducing England to 87-7, he should have finished things off in that spell.

VERDICT: 8 out of 10

One of the finest efforts from Ishant when the team needed it the most. Had England’s top-order taken the score past 100, India would have been batted out of the Test by the second session on Friday. Thirteen overs of high quality seam and pace bowling from the leader of the pack. Showed he is capable of carrying the burden in the absence of star pacers.

KEY MOMENTS

INDIA’S SLIP CATCHING

It’s one thing to get the edges, another to hold on to the catches. Just ask Dawid Malan who grassed chances in both innings. During Ishant’s spell either side of lunch, India held on to some tough chances. Ajinkya Rahane held onto a fine opportunity off Malan at gully while Virat Kohli held on a fine chance off Stokes. India’s slip catching faltered later in the innings, which showed how important slip fielders are in such conditions.

NO-BALL, ALMOST

Ishant has the tendency to bowl no-balls, given his tall frame. He did bowl a no-ball in the second innings. But more importantly, it was his dismissal of Jos Buttler that almost wasn’t as he just about managed to get some part of his foot behind the line. No other Indian bowler bowled a no ball in the second innings and had Buttler’s dismissal been reversed, it could have proven costly.

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