Agripping first Test, which swung one way and then the other throughout the match and which wasn’t settled until its final moments, ended with England winning by 31 runs and going 1-0 up in the five-match series.
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When play resumed on the third day, it was always going to be a matter of a session before there would be a result. India needed 84 runs, England needed five wickets.
In the end, it was England who held their nerve in their 1000th Test with Ben Stokes leading the way picking up 4/40 in 14.2 overs to give the hosts a thrilling win. England completed a dramatic turnaround on another day out for the bowlers in Birmingham.
ENGLAND WIN BY 31 RUNS!
What an effort from Ben Stokes, who finishes with 4/40, including the absolutely vital wicket of Virat Kohli this morning.
Resuming at 110/5 with Virat Kohli unbeaten on 43 and Dinesh Karthik 18, James Anderson gave the hosts the perfect start, catching the outside edge of the latter for 20. A brilliant good-length delivery from the England paceman did the trick with Dawid Malan at second slip, whose catching in the cordon has come under scrutiny in this game, making no mistake on this occasion.
The onus was on Kohli, who after scoring a brilliant 149 in the first innings, once again looked in ominous touch.
All Kohli needed was Hardik Pandya, the No.8 batsman, to stick around at the crease and stitch together a steady partnership. The all-rounder tried his best and struck a couple of boundaries as the momentum started to swing back to India’s court.
With the balance shifting, Joe Root, as he so often does, turned to the talismanic Stokes. The all-rounder did not disappoint his captain.
He first got rid of the Kohli for 51, trapping the India skipper right in front of the stumps and then in the same over, got Mohammed Shami edging behind to Jonny Bairstow to leave India stuttering at 141/8.
With Pandya still at the crease, India still had hope. Ishant Sharma, who played a major role in restricting England to a second innings total of 180 by snaring his eighth five-wicket Test haul, provided India another ray of hope, this time with the bat.
Sharma added 11 from 15 balls including two boundaries before he fell into Adil Rashid’s trap, struck in front by a googly, the not-out lbw verdict overturned on review. With England just one wicket away from victory, Stokes struck once again getting the ball to tail away from Pandya, who could only edge the good length delivery to Alastair Cook to spark wild celebrations in the English camp.
Sam Curran, who took a terrific four-for in the first innings and got the hosts back into the game with the bat, was deservedly awarded the Player of the Match award. But there were any number of candidates from both sides – Stokes for his six wickets in the game and his match-sealing fourth innings spell, Sharma for his second-innings five-wicket haul, and especially Virat Kohli, who notched up 200 runs in a match when the next highest tally from his side was Pandya’s 53.
The sheer number of match-defining performances highlights how incredible a Test this was, and sets up the series superbly heading into the second match at Lord’s.