After a first day which saw Joe Root win the toss and elect to bat but witness England finish at stumps on 285 for nine, the hosts were looking to perform much better on day two at Edgbaston. Here’s how they got on against the upbeat Indians...
EVENING SESSION (India 274, England 287 & 9-1 — England lead by 22 runs with nine wicket remaining): There is brilliance, there is utter brilliance and then there is Virat Kohli.
The India captain reminded everyone why he, when on song, is the best batsman in the world. He is a superstar who is not afraid to speak his mind, as with Wednesday’s overzealous mic-drop send off for opposite number, Joe Root, but the fact is he backs it up out in the middle — and never more so that here.
Kohli came into the series with huge questions marks about his ability to score in England — he averaged just 13.40 on India's last tour of England in 2014. But he answered his critics with a brilliant 149 as, with wickets falling all around him — Ravi Ashwin was clean-bowled by Anderson for 10 and Shami fell caught behind off Anderson for two to leave India on 169 for seven, still over 100 runs in arrears — he held his nerve and went on the attack.
Batting with Ishant Sharma he added 48 for the ninth wicket, before Sharma (5) went LBW to Adil Rashid. That still left the tourists 70 runs behind. But Kohli took the session by the scruff of the neck, registering his superb century two overs later and then dominating a last-wicket stand of 53 with Umesh Yadav scoring only one run.
It was Kohli at his most brilliant and daring, when he departed for 149, caught at cover off the bowling of Rashid, he had got India to only 13 runs behind England’s total, and scored over half his side’s runs. Yes, he was dropped twice but that does not take away from the fact Edgbaston got to witness a master at work.
The session got even better for India as Ashwin bowled Alastair Cook for a duck, to leave the tourists on nine for one.
AFTERNOON SESSION (India 160-6, England 287): What a session that was, it was Test cricket at its best — high drama, tension and sporting intensity. England will doubtless be the happier of the two teams trundling off for tea, the hosts took three wickets — two for Ben Stokes and one more for Sam Curran — to leave India struggling to reach the hosts’ below-par first innings total of 285.
But one positive for the tourists to grab hold off while they bite into their cucumber sandwiches is the fact that Virat Kohli is still at the crease on 53 not out.
The second session started as the first had ended, with a wicket. Stokes pitching the ball short, outside off-stump but inexplicably Rahane (15) was not able to get his bat out of the way and the ball flew to Keaton Jennings at third slip. That left Kohli and Co. on 100 for four.
It was to get worse for India as without a run being added Dinesh Karthik (0) was sent back to the pavilion, a Stokes yorker sending the batsman’s stumps flying. It was the all-rounder’s 100th Test wicket and evidence, if any were needed, of just what an exciting talent he is.
Anderson then had Kohli dropped with the score stuck on 100, Malan in the slips the guilty party. As if to add insult to injury the very next ball Stokes drew an edge from Hardik Panda and Alastair Cook put the ball down at first slip.
That seemed to give a boost to India who put on 48 for the next wicket, Pandya falling LBW to Curran for 22, before Kohli was against dropped by Malan.
England definitely won that session, but will they end up ruing those two drop off Kohli?
MORNING SESSION: England were only able to add two more runs to their overnight score. India needed just 10 balls to wrap up the hosts' first innings — Sam Curran falling for his overnight 24 after edging Mohammad Shami to wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik, to leave England all out for 287.
That set up the tourists to put yet more pressure on Root and Co. by making early headway into England’s below-par total.
Initially things were looking very good for India. Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan looked at ease as they got to 50 without breaking much of a sweat. James Anderson and Stuart Broad failed to make the ball talk, the opening partnership had already beaten India’s biggest of the 2014 tour, and is their first fifty opening partnership in England since Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund at Lord’s in 2011.
That was when Sam Curren was thrown the ball and in the spate of eight deliveries the left-arm pace ace got three wickets.
First to go was Vijay (20), plumb LBW to a late inswinger, then KL Rahul (4) played on to leave the tourists on 54 for two. It then got even better for England as Curran, who was just four when his bowling partner Anderson started playing for England, had Dhawan (26 )caught behind by Malan.
The rest of the session was a case of damage limitations for the tourists with India heading back to the pavilion on 63 for three — captain Virat Kohli on nine not out and Ajinkya Rahane unbeaten on eight.
The next session could well prove crucial, can England get deeper into the India batting lineup or can Kohli restore some calm?