First of all, I need to own up to an error in judgment. When England left-arm seamer Sam Curran made his Test debut against Pakistan at Leeds in June, I did not believe he was ready for Test cricket.
With his slight build and spirited-at-best bowling action, Sam did not turn heads during the game against Pakistan. There was no great pace, extravagant movement or bounce to suggest the 20-year-old could be a force to be reckoned with in Test cricket. Fast bowlers need to have a certain physique and pace to consistently challenge the best batsmen on all conditions in Test cricket. I had believed, at that time, that his brother Tom could have been a better option because he offered more pace and bounce.
When India prepared for the first Test in Birmingham, surviving the new ball against James Anderson and Stuart Broad was their main concern followed by the incisive bowling of all-rounder Ben Stokes. The medium to fast-medium left-arm bowling of Curran would not have been on top of the minds of India batsmen.
In the first innings of England’s batting, Curran’s 71-ball 24 helped England post 287 in the first essay and he then returned to not only break a dangerous looking opening stand of 50 but also ran through the Indian top order. His late left-arm swing proved more than a handful as Indian batsmen struggled to pick his line or length.
SAM CURRAN is the first England player to score a fifty and have a four-fer in his career before turning 21. (27th player overall)— Deepu Narayanan (@deeputalks) August 3, 2018
Took them a small matter of 1000 Tests to have one in the club. #ENGvIND
Then came his most defiant effort of the Test. With England down and almost out at 87-7 in the second innings and all main batsmen dismissed, Curran brought the hosts back into the match. And the icing on top of an amazing cake for Curran was the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane in the second innings.
Runs and wickets are always good but it’s the way Curran went about accumulating them in Birmingham that has stood out. With the bat and ball, he knew exactly what needs to be done. His run-scoring was a result of uncluttered thinking. With the ball, he knew where to bowl at batsmen and rarely veered from his line of attack.
“I remember me as a 20-year-old, and I didn’t know what was going on … I was in awe of everyone,” James Anderson said of Curran on Friday.
“But he knows exactly what he’s doing, how to set batsmen up, and we saw he has talent with the bat as well.”
There was concern, in some quarters, that Curran’s build might not be able to stand up to the demands of Test seam bowling over a longer period of time. But his batting has developed very well and he already has 11 first-class fifties along with 119 wickets from 42 games. A future as a batting all-rounder is a distinct possibility.
That Sam is a gritty character shouldn’t come as a surprise as the Zimbabwe born lad has seen quite a lot at an early age after his family was evicted from their farm in the African nation during the regime of Robert Mugabe. To come through such a situation at make it to the Test team while being a teenager shows that Sam is made of some pretty stern stuff and can handle most things that cricket can throw at him.
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10:30 pm – Talking points from third day’s play in Birmingham
Stuart Broad picked up two wickets as India reached stumps on 110-5 chasing 194 in the Birmingham Test.
The match was finely poised after Ishant Sharma picked up five wickets but not before Sam Curran had pulled his team out of serious trouble witha fine 63 that took the total to 180.
Read all talking points from the first Test here.
10:00 pm – Analysis of Ishant Sharma’s performance
India pacer Ishant Sharma was on fire on the third day of the Birmingham Test.
He picked up three wickets in one over either side of lunch to reduce England to 87-7. He finished with a deserved five wicket haul.
Here is an in-depth analysis of his performance.
7:45 pm – England pick two early wickets
England seamer Stuart Broad picked up two early wickets as India chased 194 to win the Birmingham Test.
Earlier Ishant Sharma picked up five wickets while seamer Sam Curran hit a defiant 63 as the hosts battled their way to 180 in the second innings.
Catch all the live updates here.
5:45pm – Monty Panesar pleas to English counties of offering him a trial
3:30pm – Sri Lanka shelve plans of hosting IPL-style T20 tournament
The Sri Lankan Cricket Board have confirmed they will no longer be hosting a T20 tournament similar to the IPL. Instead of foreign stars, the competition will only feature Sri Lankan internationals and domestic cricketers. Read more on that story here.
3:05pm – Virat Kohli let the bat do the talking in what could be his best ever Test innings
Virat Kohli grabbed all the headlines as he scored 149 on Thursday as India fought back against England. A lot was said on how the Indian would fare in the series after a poor 2014 tour. But he showed his class in style. Ashish Peter examined what it meant for Kohli to score his first Test hundred in England. Read his thoughts here.
2:20pm – The moment that England might be rueing after Virat Kohli scored his century
Virat Kohli stole the show on Thursday as he scored his maiden Test century on English soil. While it was a masterclass of an innings, the Indian captain was fortunate to reach 149 after being dropped on 21 and 51. Alex Broun looks back on the second day and how those two dropped catches could be pivotal for the rest of the Test match. Read his thoughts here.
1:15pm – ‘India’s slip-catching must improve’
That is the view of former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin, who insists that Virat Kohli’s side must place more emphasis at the slips after missed chances on the opening day of their Test match against England. Read more on what he said here.
12:30pm – Afghanistan captain changes his name
Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai has changed his name to Asghar Afghan in ‘honour of protecting the national identity of Afghan citizens’. The Afghanistan Cricket Board confirmed the news on their Twitter account on Thursday. Read more on that story here.
11:10am – Wahab Riaz’s T20 half-century goes in vain
The Pakistan pacer impressed with the bat, scoring a half-century but his effort went in vain as Derbyshire lost to Nottinghamshire in the England T20 Blast clash on Thursday. Riaz slammed a 31-ball 53 at number three but it was not enough as his team lost by nine runs. Read more on that story here.
It was another frustrating day for England on the second day of the first Test match as Virat Kohli stole the headlines at Edgbaston.
The Indian captain scored his first Test century in England when he hit 149 as India finished on 274, just 13 runs short of England’s first innings total of 287.
Kohli would have relished his innings even more after being dropped twice on 21 and 51 before reaching his 22nd Test ton.
By stumps, Alastair Cook was dismissed on the last ball of the day by Ravi Ashwin with the hosts set to resume play looking to build on their 22-run lead.
Here, we look at player ratings from the second day.
INDIA’s BATTING CARD
Murali Vijay – 6
The right-hander looked in fine touch at the crease against experienced pacers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, but came undone to be trapped lbw for 20 by rookie Sam Curran after a lapse of concentration.
Shikhar Dawan – 6
Got the nod ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara and did his part of giving India decent start. Only had himself to blame for the dismissal with his poor footwork providing a simple catch at slip for 26.
KL Rahul – 3
Made an instant impact by hitting a boundary but that was as good as it got for the 26-year-old. In his very next ball, he became Sam Curran’s second victim when the ball hit the stumps off his bat.
Ajinkya Rahane – 5
After three quick wickets falling, Rahane provided that stability and looked comfortable against the bowlers. That was until Ben Stokes came along and after surviving a huge scare earlier, he eventually lost the battle after a 34-ball 15.
Virat Kohli – 9
Let the bat do the talking in style as he led by example at the crease. Was lucky to survive two dropped catches but went from strength to strength to score his first Test century in England.
Dinesh Karthik – 3
Like Rahul, didn’t even get a chance to settle at the crease, facing four deliveries only. He just simply had no answer from a fantastic Stokes delivery that saw him return to the pavilion without a single run.
Hardik Pandya – 5
Playing in his eighth Test match, the all-rounder is still relatively new to the longer format but frustrated the hosts over a long period, even finding three boundaries before being trapped on 22 by Curran.
Ravichandran Ashwin – 4
For a man who has scored 11 fifties as a lower-order batsmen, the 33-year-old showed anything but that form as his 10-run knock was ended by none other than James Anderson.
Mohammed Shami – 3
The 28-year-old struggled to make any impact and was soon exploited by the pace as Anderson claimed his second wicket of the day.
Ishant Sharma – 4
Fared much longer than Shami, lasting 17 deliveries before becoming Adil Rashid’s first victim.
Umesh Yadav – 4
When he came to the crease, Kohli was still three runs short of his century but did his job in his 16 deliveries to ensure the captain scored his ton.
Jimmy Anderson – 7
Given the ball to open the innings, it took a while for the top-ranked Test bowler to settle but any issues of how he would fare following a six-week rest on his shoulder were put to bed when he claimed two wickets.
Stuart Broad – 5
Not the best of days for the Nottinghamshire man. Went wicketless in his 10 overs and bowled three no balls as he failed to show the form that made him one of the most fearless bowlers on his day.
Sam Curran – 8
Prior to the match, the 20-year-old only had two Test wickets to his name. But he doubled that in just a single day and in just his second match. Tormented the Indian top-three batsmen with his medium-pace and did the damage again to Pandya.
Adil Rashid – 3
All the build-up was on the Yorkshire spinner but although the 30-year-old removed Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma, he was fairly quiet in his eight overs.
Ben Stokes – 7
Took two quick wickets of Ajinkya Rahane and Dinesh Karthik and it should have been more had the fielders been more clinical. Signs of fatigue were showing towards the end of the day but he made a big impact to put the pressure on the Indians.
ENGLAND BATTING CARD
Alastair Cook – 3
The 33-year-old’s poor form with the bat continues as he was out for a duck in what proved to be the last ball of the day. The last thing that England needed going into the third day.
Keaton Jennings – 5
Scored one boundary in his eight deliveries but most importantly will resume the third day unbeaten on five.
Ravichandran Ashwin – 7
Picked up where he left off with the ball in the first innings as he took the crucial wicket of Cook.