India win, keep series alive

India bounced back in the five-match Test series with an all-round performance and cruised to a comfortable victory by 203 runs at Trent Bridge on Wednesday. Virat Kohli starred with the bat in both the innings while Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah were pick of the bowlers with 5-wicket hauls in the 1st and 2nd innings respectively.

India made three massive changes – Murali Vijay made way for Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik was dropped for debutant Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah returned to action at the expense of Kuldeep Yadav. England made one change. Stokes returned to the playing XI in place of Sam Curran.

Joe Root won the toss and invited India to bat first at Trent Bridge. The Indian openers responded in style, adding 60 runs for the first wicket until Chris Woakes came to England’s rescue snaring Shikhar Dhawan (35) and KL Rahul (23) in quick succession.

India tried to rebuild through Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara (14) but the Saurashtra run-machine played an uncharacteristic pull to throw his wicket away at the cusp of lunch.

The visitors needed something special from the skipper and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane who batted throughout the second session giving England no chance of capitalizing on Woakes’ triple strike.

The duo added 159-runs for the third wicket when Alastair Cook took a left-handed stunner to get rid of Ajinkya Rahane (81). Kohli was cruising on the other end when he played a rash drive to become Adil Rashid’s first scalp for 97.

Hardik Pandya and debutant Rishabh Pant did all the hard work to take India past the 300-run mark before Pandya poked at a ball outside with the visitors going into stumps at 307/6.

India only added 22 runs to their overnight total and were dismissed for 329. England’s openers Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings made Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah pay for bowling loose lines and went into lunch on top with 46 on the board.

The hosts lost Alastair Cook (29) and Keaton Jennings (20) to Ishant Sharma and Jasprit on back to back deliveries. England were suddenly on the back foot when Ishant Sharma dismissed Pope for 10 but what followed next changed the course of the match and tilted it in India’s favour completely.

Ravichandran Ashwin’s hip injury was a blessing-in-disguise with Virat Kohli looking up to Hardik Pandya to pick wickets.

The MI all-rounder removed Joe Root on his first ball and kept swinging the ball away from the right-handers to cause continuous trouble. Shami from the other end, dismissed Stokes with England being reduced to 108/5.

Hardik went onto dismiss Bairstow, Woakes, Rashid and Broad to complete his first five-wicket haul in Tests and in the process restrict England to 128/9. Buttler fought for a while but his resistance came to an end with Bumrah getting the better of him for 39.

Hardik Pandya’s fantastic spell gave him 5 wickets in just 29 balls and earned him a presence on the honour’s board for the first time ever.

India came out to bat with a healthy 168-run lead and a positive mindset. KL Rahul’s mini-blitz along with Dhawan ensured that the visitors added a fifty run stand again in the second innings. Rahul scored 36 from just 33 balls before a peach from Stokes castled him. Cheteshwar Pujara joined Shikhar Dhawan with both batsmen playing with an intent to only score runs but with minimal risk.

Dhawan got a life when Cook dropped a sitter in the slips but he misjudged a googly from Adil Rashid to be stumped on 44. India were sitting pretty on 111/2 when Virat Kohli and Pujara joined forces to bat England out of the match. The duo took a measured approach on the next morning to see off the early trouble as India extended their lead without losing a wicket.

Pujara missed out on a ton when he edged one to Cook off Stokes on 72 thus bringing an end to a very crucial 113-run stand with Kohli.

Ajinkya Rahane joined Kohli with the latter already settled and looking to complete a milestone he fell short of by 3 runs in the first innings. Kohli got a life on 93 when Keaton Jennings dropped him in the slips but the Indian skipper marched onto his ton without any further hiccups.

His 103-run masterclass came to an end when Woakes trapped him in front of the stumps but by then India were already ahead by 449 runs. Pant (1) and Rahane (29) fell soon after Kohli departed but India had their hero with the ball, Hardik Pandya scoring runs at a brisk pace.

Pandya completed a fifty in as many balls laden with 7 fours and huge six to Adil Rashid before India decided to declare with a 520-run lead to have a go at England. Cook and Jennings survived a testing nine-over spell to see England off but to chase 521 was always going to be tough, especially on day four.

Ishant Sharma struck in the first over of day four removing Jennings (13) early. In his next over, he bagged a struggling Alastair Cook for 17 helping India put early pressure on the hosts.

The big break came when Jasprit Bumrah forced Joe Root (13) to edge an away going delivery to KL Rahul in the slips. In the span of four balls, the 20-year-old Ollie Pope too saw himself returning back to the pavilion courtesy a flying stunner from Virat Kohli in the slips.

England had lost 4 wickets before lunch and needed a rescue act which came in the form of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler who batted for the entire next session without being dismissed.

The right-hand-left-hand combination frustrated India’s bowlers with a stand which lasted for over four hours. India took the new ball and Jasprit Bumrah responded in style.

A big-inswinger trumped in the air who offered no shot and was adjudged lbw for a sublime 106. Bairstow who came out to bat with a fractured finger had seen the big in-swing just when Bumrah served a peach that pitched and angled away to hit his off-stump.

Bumrah bagged two-in-two with India now four wickets away from a win. In his next over, a well-directed bouncer got rid of Woakes before Hardik Pandya from the other end halted Stokes’ 62-run resistance.

England were suddenly reduced to 241/8 with India eyeing to end the Test match on day four but Adil Rashid and Stuart Broad counter-attacked for an hour to add 50 runs before Bumrah returned to dismiss Broad and claim his second successive five-wicket haul in Tests.

India earned the extra half an hour’s play to clean up the last wicket but Rashid along with James Anderson denied them, taking the match to the fifth day. Ashwin with a carrom ball early on day five dismissed James Anderson to help India complete an impressive victory at Trent Bridge.

With the series now interestingly poised at 2-1 in England’s favour, both the teams will now meet at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on August 30.