Ahead of the Headingley Test, Team India skipper Virat Kohli had commented that the key to succeed in England as a batter is to ‘keep your ego in your pocket’ and grind it out in the middle. This is exactly what Team India’s batters had done in the first two Tests.
However, with the euphoria of the Lord’s win still fresh, the visitors batted like billionaires and were rolled over for a miserable 78 in 40.4 overs on Day 1 at Headingley. England openers Rory Burns (52 not out) and Haseeb Hameed (60 not out) then featured in an unbroken 120-run stand in 42 overs to worsen Team India’s day.
It was like a fishing expedition out in the middle as Team India’s batters kept poking and prodding at deliveries outside the off stump. Jos Buttler acted as the perfect safety net for England and trapped every big fish. The first five wickets for Team India had ‘caught Buttler’ appearing on the scorecard in a record-equalling feat by the English keeper.
For a change, Team India skipper Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to b at first. It all went downhill from there for the visitors. James Anderson (3/6), who had clearly expressed his unhappiness at being ‘targeted’ by Jasprit Bumrah at Lord’s, redeemed himself like a true champion. In the very first over, he sent back Team India’s in-form opener KL Rahul (0). The batter, whose application stood out in the first two Tests, played a loose waft outside of stump.
Rahul’s dismissal set the tone of Team India’s innings. Cheteshwar Pujara (1) and Kohli (7) also fell in similar fashion to Anderson, unable to control their urge to flirt outside the off stump, as England reduced the visitors to 21 for 3.
The Mumbai duo of Ajinkya Rahane (18) and Rohit Sharma held fort for a brief period to raise Team India’s hopes. However, just at the stroke of lunch, Rahane did something that fans were praying Rohit wouldn’t do – he gave his wicket away.
Team India’s vice-captain tentatively held his bat out at one from Ollie Robinson (2/16) and Buttler accepted another gift. India went to lunch at 56 for 4. The Lord’s dream over, the Headingley nightmare had only begun.
No lower-order resistance from Team India
Team India were hoping for some crucial runs from the lower half of the batting once again. It wasn’t to be on this day, though. The sorry story continued for the visitors in the post-lunch session.
A nervous Rishabh Pant (2) went hard at Robinson with an angled bat to enable Buttler to complete a five-fer of catches. A confused Rohit then dragged a pull awkwardly to mid-on as Craig Overton (3/14) joined the fun.
Lord’s batting hero Mohammed Shami lasted one ball as he nicked a rising delivery from Overton to third slip. Sam Curran (2/27) then trapped Ravindra Jadeja (4) and Jasprit Bumrah (0) LBW off consecutive deliveries. Overton ended Team India’s misery by having Mohammed Siraj (3) caught at slip.
To compound India’s woes, England’s new batting pair of Burns and Hameed then frustrated the bowlers. Kohli opened with Ishant Sharma, who began with two no balls and a wide – the last thing Team India needed.
On a pitch that seemed to have flattened out considerably, the England openers looked in no trouble at all. Of course, when you know that the opposition has scored only 78, the pressure automatically eases out. Except for one ball from Jadeja that jumped out of the footmarks, it was all too easy for England’s openers out in the middle.
Burns asserted England’s dominance by pulling a harmless short ball from Siraj over deep backward square leg for a maximum. Hameed brought up his fifty in streaky fashion, edging Bumrah to the left of Rohit at second slip. Burns also reached a well-deserved half-century by punching the same bowler through mid-on.
Earlier, England went into the lead with a misfield from Team India’s best fielder, Jadeja. As Dinesh Karthik aptly put it on air, it pretty much summed things up for Kohli and Co. The day ended with a needless overthrow as England sneaked in an extra run.
After the highs of Lord’s, Team India wouldn’t have imagined such a mighty tumble even in their worst nightmares.