Saturday, December 15, 2018 04:36:25 PM
England held their nerve to complete a tense 31-run victory over India in the first Test at Edgbaston on Saturday.
India - resuming on 110-5 in pursuit of 194 - were bowled out for 162 as tension mounted among an increasingly raucous crowd.
James Anderson removed Dinesh Karthik with the sixth ball of the day before Ben Stokes produced a brilliant over to dismiss captain Virat Kohli for 51 and Mohammed Shami.
The all-rounder sealed victory by having Hardik Pandya caught at first slip to finish with 4-40.
Joe Root's bowling changes paid off: Stokes struck twice in his first over and recalled leg-spinner Adil Rashid trapped Ishant Sharma six balls into his introduction.
Stokes in particular bowled with aggression and intelligence, although he is set to miss the second Test at Lord's as his court case for affray begins in Bristol on Monday.
While India came up short, their performance was a far cry from their dismal tour four years ago and bodes well for the remainder of what promises to be a keenly contested five-Test series.
The Ashes Test at Edgbaston in 2005, when Australia entered the fourth day needing 107 runs to win and England requiring two wickets, was mentioned several times in the build-up to the fourth day's play.
As they were 13 years ago, England were cheered on by a boisterous crowd.
Anderson struck in the first over, taking the shoulder of Karthik's bat and Dawid Malan - who dropped three catches in the match - holding on to a low chance at second slip.
'Oh Jimmy, Jimmy' - Anderson makes early breakthrough
There was an intensity around England's performance as they starved Kohli of the strike.
He cut a calm figure, reaching his half-century with a flick off the hip for four, but he faced only 16 of a possible 62 deliveries before his dismissal.
In a celebration reminiscent of Andrew Flintoff at Edgbaston in 2005, Stokes sank to his knees even as Kohli reviewed the lbw decision from an inswinger, before Shami dangled his bat and edged to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
Rashid, brought on to bowl at the tail, pinned Ishant in front with a googly.
Despite a late rally from Pandya, who made 31 and protected Umesh, Stokes found his edge before wheeling away in celebration.
Despite victory, this Test was characterised by missed opportunities for England.
Kohli was dropped twice in the slip cordon before going on to make 149 on the second day, and there is still a propensity for the middle order to collapse.
While India took their chances at times - Kohli's run-out of Root on the opening day halted England's first innings, while Ishant produced a terrific spell of swing bowling on Friday afternoon - they too could never quite grab hold of the match.
India cannot always rely on Kohli to rescue their innings, while England have real questions over the make-up of their side.
Malan struggled with the bat - he averages 20.23 in home Tests - and did not look comfortable in the cordon.
Sam Curran, however, is a bright spot. His bowling on the second day and batting on the third dragged England back into the game and set the stage for a thrilling finish.
Their biggest concern for the second Test, which starts on Thursday, will be the loss of Stokes. The fourth morning underlined how important he is in both lifting England and producing an important spell when they most need it.
First Specsavers Test, Edgbaston (day four of five)
England 287 (Root 80, Ashwin 4-62) & 180 (Curran 63, Ishant 5-51)
India 274 (Kohli 149, Curran 4-74) & 162 (Kohli 51, Stokes 4-40)
England won by 31 runs; lead 1-0 in series.
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