With the Test series done and dusted, there was been no shortage of drama over the last six weeks as England triumphed 4-1 against India. There have been some exceptional individual displays, moments of brilliance and milestone moments – not to mention the retirement of a true cricketing legend.
Here we look at the five moments that had people talking during the five-match series.
Ben Stokes’ does a ‘Freddie Flintoff’ on final day of Edgbaston Test
The opening Test was evenly poised going into the final day in Birmingham. A total of 194 was the target for India, who resumed 110-5. They had strong hope too given that Virat Kohli was still at the crease. But England and in particular Ben Stokes, had other ideas as the all-rounder rattled the Indian batting order to wrap up a 31-run victory. Bowling with aggression and intelligence, Stokes took the prized scalp of Kohli and then Mohammed Shami. He clinched victory when Hardik Pandya was caught at slip to finish with 4-40 and roll back memories of Freddie Flintoff’s performance in the 2005 Ashes Test.
Virat Kohli lets his bat do the talking
Before a ball was even bowled, the question was whether Virat Kohli would be able to score big runs given his poor record in the 2014 series. Back then over the five-match series, he averaged just under 14. But it was a different story this time round. In fact, he could not have asked for a better start. At Edgbaston, he made England pay for dropped catches to score 149 in his first innings before a half-century in his next. The 29-year-old went on to score another hundred and two more fifties to end the series as the top run-scorer (593) and send out another reminder why he’s the best Test batsman.
Sam Curran rises to the occasion with the bat and ball
There were a few question marks on the inclusion of the 20-year-old but come the end of the series and the all-rounder has well and truly silenced the doubters. In the first Test, Curran took four wickets in the first innings to put England in control before his maiden half-century (63) pretty much was the decisive factor in taking a 1-0 lead. When he was recalled for the Southampton Test after being dropped for Ben Stokes in the third match, Curran picked up where he left off taking two wickets and more importantly his highest Test score of 78 to frustrate the Indians. Although he didn’t play the full five-match series, the future is bright for the Surrey youngster.
The end of an innings for Alastair Cook
All the build-up to the fifth and final Test was about one man – Alastair Cook. The 33-year-old announced his retirement decision just after the Test series was won in Southampton and the focus turned whether England’s best opening batsmen would be able to score a century on his farewell. It didn’t exactly happen in his first innings, falling 29 runs short but there was no mistake next time he took to the field to score 147 and his 33rd Test century. The way England celebrated in the dressing room, India’s guard of honour and the standing ovation of the crowd, told you everything how respected he was within the game.
Jimmy Anderson sets the record straight
When Jimmy Anderson took the wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan inside the first two overs on the penultimate day of the Oval Test, it looked like it was only a matter of time before he would break Glenn McGrath’s tally for most Test wickets for a seamer. No matter how hard he tried, he was unable to get that historic wicket until an hour before the end of play on Tuesday when he rattled the stumps of Mohammad Shami to claim his 564th Test scalp. His effort wrapped up the 118-run victory and he later confessed he was thrilled to set a new mark when ‘best mate’ Cook was on the field. At 36, he’s showing no signs of slowing down as evident by his 24 wickets in the series.
The tourists were threatening a world-record chase when opener Lokesh Rahul and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant put on 204 for the sixth wicket.
But leg-spinner Rashid got one to pitch outside leg stump and clip the top to remove Rahul for 149.
England went on to win by 118 runs, with James Anderson breaking Glenn McGrath’s record for the most Test wickets by a fast bowler with the game’s final delivery, but Rashid’s ball will also live long in the memory.
Australian Warne’s delivery at Old Trafford back in 1993 – his first in an Ashes Test – also pitched outside leg and clipped the top of Mike Gatting’s off stump.
And former England opener Geoffrey Boycott was quick to compare Rashid’s delivery to Warne’s.
As it happened, BBC Test Match Special pundit Boycott said on air: “Shane Warne ball! It pitched two foot outside leg stump, into the bowler’s footmarks.
“That turned a long, long way. Rahul was just trying to angle it for a single.”
Others using social media also likened Rashid’s delivery to Warne’s, with journalist @StocksC_cricket writing: “Ball of the century MkII.”
Rashid was humble about his delivery when asked about it after the game.
He told TMS: “It did go miles. I was just trying to spin it hard, into the rough. Luckily that went quite a bit and hit the top of off.”
Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow added to Sky Sports cricket: “That ball from Rash, people talk about balls of the century, that is up there. It has turned about three or four foot, I reckon.”
Former India captain Kapil Dev insists India are the favourites in the upcoming Asia Cup even though they don’t have regular captain and prolific batsman Virat Kohli in the side.
Rohit Sharma will lead the Indians in the UAE in a tournament also featuring Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Hong Kong starting September 15 in Dubai.
India lost their most recent ODI series in England and enter the Asia Cup with a few questions about their finishing skills. They were also defeated emphatically by Pakistan in the 2017 Champions Trophy final and now will be without their main batsman in Kohli in the UAE.
However, former India captain and coach Dev said India are still the better team and are favourites in the Asia Cup.
“I feel yes (India are favourites). On paper, India one-on-one is far better than any other team,” Dev told Sport360 in Dubai. He was present as Channel 2 Group announced their partnership with the Asia Cup where they will be providing live commentary.
The UAE is like a second home for Pakistan who have been playing in the country for the best part of a decade. They have an incredible record on the slow and dry surfaces of the UAE and have a full-strength squad to chose from. Moreover, the Champions Trophy final win is still fresh in the minds of Pakistan players like Hasan Ali. However, Dev believes a lot of time has passed since that result and added Pakistan can’t be seen as the favourites.
“I don’t think Pakistan are favourites. I don’t think past results will have a bearing on this tournament. These days you move on in life. No one keeps that in mind for more than six to eight months,” Dev added.
The legendary all-rounder believes the presence of wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the India line-up gives them a big edge as Pakistan and some other teams haven’t faced them.
“With a new wrist spinner it takes time to understand them. They are wicket-taking bowlers. They can be very effective and that is what a team looks for.”
OPPORTUNITY LOST IN ENGLAND
The Indian team is staring down the barrel in England at the moment, having lost the Pataudi Trophy 3-1 with the prospect of finishing the series 4-1 at The Oval.
India had golden opportunities to win the Birmingham and Southampton Tests but the world No1 team squandered them. Dev said that India must learn from the mistakes.
“Winning didn’t come (in England) but otherwise they played good cricket. They had chances where they could have won the series but they didn’t grab those chances. And this is what cricket is all about. Whoever has better nerves that moment (wins),” he added.