Are you ready? It’s time for Test cricket to take centre stage again as India and England come together for the first of a five-match series at Trent Bridge. What does day one have in store? Perhaps a Virat Kohli century? Or a James Anderson five-for? A Cheteshwar Pujara masterclass? Or a Stuart Broad demolition job? ESPNcricinfo’s live updates will keep you posted on everything so stay tuned. (Please refresh your page to get the latest)
Deja vu all over again? Nearly
Day one of the 2018 seies. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow batting beautifully without a care in the world. Then Root is run out going for a second. Kohli mic-drops and the Test turn arounds. England are nowhere near as comfortable right now as they were in 2018, but the two are involved in a horrible call again. Root punched Ravindra Jadeja forward of deep midwicket, and the immediate call from Pant is “bowling, bowling, bowling”, asking the fielder to throw at the bowler’s end. The throw is accurate and at the bowling end, but Root is well inside his crease there. It is Bairstow who gets a reprieve as he runs nearly 70% of the pitch and goes back just in time. England 93 for 3 in 38.4 overs at afternoon drinks. Root 31 off 55, Bairstow 7 off 36.
It wasn’t all luck
Unlucky Shami, what unlucky Shami?
Ten minutes into the afternoon session, Shami has Dom Sibley caught at short midwicket with a leg-side half-volley. Sibley looks at the pitch to suggest this has stopped at him. He is looking to play square or even behind square, and gets a front edge. That’s what cricket is. Messy. After 8.3 overs of high-quality pace bowling, inducing 15 false response, he gets the wicket with an innocuous-looking delivery. England 66 for 3 in 27.3 overs. Sibley gone for 18 off 70, Root not out on 17 off 22.
Some lunch-time thoughts to think then. Yet again, Mohammed Shami has looked unplayable but has no wicket. So S Rajesh did some numbers for fast bowlers in England since 2014. And it turns out, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah have had to work the hardest to get their wickets in England. James Anderson and Stuart Broad get a wicket every 10 mistakes induced, but the number is close to 19 for Shami and Bumrah.
A further look at the lengths, and Shami tends to be unluckier in England when bowls a good length or short of a good length. In India mistakes induced of these lengths get him wickets twice as quickly.
Lunch on day 1
So in the last 15 minutes of the session, Joe Root struck three boundaries, one of them streaky and India asked a few more questions. The score at the break reads 61 for 2 in 25 overs. Sibley there with 18 off 67, Root, 12 off 10. Bumrah and Siraj have the wickets, but Bumrah and Shami have been the most threatening bowlers. Bumrah: 7-2-16-1, Shami 7-2-9-0, Siraj 6-1-21-1, Thakur 5-2-10-0. No spin used in that session. England’s control percentage is 74.45.
Always trust Pant’s instinct
two balls after losing a review, with seconds running out, Virat Kohli does the opposite of what India have done in Rishabh Pant the batter’s young career: trust his instinct. They go for a review, and India have their second wicket.
Okay this is what happened. On ball 20.3, Mohammed Siraj goes past Zak Zrawley’s bat, but there are two sounds as the ball hits the pad and goes on the full to Pant. Both Virat Kohli and Pant are convinced of an inside edge on what is otherwise a pretty close lbw shout too. So they know they have a bob each way and go for it. Replays show the bat is nowhere close to the ball, the two sounds are front pad and back pad, and the ball is sailing over. India lose the review.
On 20.6, a similar appeal, and it is not out again. This time Kohli is not so quick with the trigger. He asks Siraj if there is bat, but gets no definitive response. And again he is left with no choice but to rely on Pant, who is insistent. To Kohli’s credit, he goes for the review, and the replays show an inside edge.
England 42 for 2 in 21 overs, Crawley gone for 27 off 68. Sibley not out on 12 off 53.
Another half hour, no wicket
India have now gone to their string of seamers of Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur. The intensity of the examination has dipped a a little too. Thakur started with a beautiful ouswinger, but they don’t have the pace and the accuracy of Bumrah and Shami. Consequently, a man has come out of slip to cover. Leg side has been reinforced too. Interesting that Thakur is looking to bowl a more attacking, full length, but has only two slips and a gully because he is liable to be driven. And that man in the covers has stopped a few boundaries already.
England’s control percentage still stuck at 71, but the partnership is still in tact.
England 37 for 1 after 19 overs, Zrawley 23 off 58, Sibley 11 off 51.
Crawley, Sibley survive first hour
After losing Rory Burns in the first over, England have made it to the drinks at 29 for 1. It has been a testing first hour where Japsrit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have often gone past the bat. In all, there have been 20 false responses from England, which means their control percentage is under 75.
India have bowled aggressively, which shows in the two-three half-volleys Bumrah and Shami have bowled. However, Zak Crawley, in particular, has been good and has made full use of scoring opportunities. Mohammed Siraj has bowled just the one over where he has bowled two half-volleys and one length ball down the pads.
England 29 for 1, Crawley 21 off 37, Sibley 8 off 36
Bumrah on the board already
Jasprit Bumrah endured a difficult Test in the WTC final when he looked good but didn’t quite have the luck to get him the wickets. Here, though, you might argue he has got one a little too easily. It is high skill and precision, don’t get me wrong. Away swing, away swing, away swing, followed by inswing precise enough to pitch within the stumps of a left-hand batter and then straighten enough to beat the bat and hit the pad in front. However, at Test level, you usually expect a batter to not fall for it as early as the first over.
Back in 2018, when Keaton Jennings was looked to make inadequate against the same exact set-up, you could say there was an element of surprise because Bumrah had just started to bowl that inswinger to left-hand batters. Now he mixes both, and you know that is precisely what he is going for when he has taken a few balls away from the batter. Burns will be disappointed he was not ready for the first ball that swung back in and was beaten comprehensively.
England 1 for 1 after three overs.
Ashwin out, but why?
This is not as outrageous a move as it first sounds. Conventional wisdom suggests that if your spinner is not likely to be the attacking option in given conditions, you might choose the better batter, especially if you have a long tail. India have Rishabh Pant at No. 6, and the moment they decide the conditions are not conducive for two spinners and pick Shardul Thakur, they need some batting reinforcement at No. 7.
Another possible reason is that there is more than a bit of rain expected on all the rest of the days of the Test. That can sometimes mean there is hardly any wear and tear for a spinner to use. So perhaps better off taking the less attacking option if he happens to be the better batter.
Also there are only two left-hand batters in England’s top eight. Not to suggest that Ashwin is ordinary against right-hand batters, but he is different gravy against left-hand ones. Perhaps just another thing going against him.
I mean Ashwin would have been an excellent pick here, but his replacement – Jadeja or Thakur – is not a bad pick given the conditions and team combination either.
Welcome to the Live Report for the first Test of the series, and we have a hectic first post. Pending any late news of an injury, India have dropped R Ashwin, which might be surprising to many and will definitely spark debate, but is not that bad a move. More on that later. Toss news first.
England have won the toss and are batting first. They have leant on the side of the conservative and picked an extra batter, leaving out specialist spinner Jack Leach. It is a tricky XI to pick now that Ben Stokes is not available. This is the kind of dilemma India go through on overseas tours because they don’t have a seam-bowling allrounder.
Here is England’s XI
1 RJ Burns, 1 DP Sibley, 3 Z Crawley, 4 JE Root (capt.), 5 JM Bairstow, 6 DW Lawrence, 7 JC Buttler (wk), 8 SM Curran, 9 OE Robinson, 10 SCJ Broad, 11 JM Anderson
India had three choices to make. Whom to open with in the absence of Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal? They have gone with KL Rahul. Which three specialist quicks to play? Ishant Sharma seems to have failed a fitness test so that leaves the easy choice Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj. Which two to play at 7 and 8? They have gone for the extra seam bowler, leaving out R Ashwin. Here is India’s XI:
1 RG Sharma, 2 KL Rahul, 3 CA Pujara, 4 V Kohli (capt.), 5 AM Rahane, 6 RR Pant (wk), 7 RA Jadeja, 8 SN Thakur, 9 JJ Bumrah, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo