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Openers drive home England advantage after India Skittled for 78
- Updated: August 26, 2021
England v India: Brilliant hosts dominate first day of third Test
England produced a stunning all-round display to take complete control of the third Test against India on the first day at Headingley.
In a complete turnaround from their miserable defeat in the second Test at Lord’s, the home side dismissed India for only 78 and then serenely moved to 120-0, a lead of 42.
They were led by the peerless James Anderson, who claimed 3-6, including India captain Virat Kohli, as England exploited the seam movement on offer.
Craig Overton, in for the injured Mark Wood, also took three wickets, and both he and Sam Curran had the chance of a hat-trick after taking two wickets in two balls.
India lost their last seven wickets for 22 runs, at one stage losing four wickets for no runs in the space of six balls.
England’s day was further improved by the 60 not out made by Haseeb Hameed, restored to open the batting in Test cricket for the first time since 2016.
With Rory Burns moving to an unbeaten 52, England’s opening partnership passed India’s total to leave the hosts in a perfect position to level the five-match series at 1-1.
Brilliant England reverse the momentum
England’s complete performance was as impressive as it was unexpected, given the way India had the better of the first two Tests, particularly when the hosts capitulated at Lord’s.
Two years ago to the day, Ben Stokes’ individual brilliance gave England one of their most famous victories of all-time when Australia were defeated on this ground.
Now, with their talismanic all-rounder just one of a lengthy list of absentees, Joe Root’s side collectively reversed the momentum in what could turn into a stellar series.
Everything went their way from the moment Kohli won the toss and elected to bat, giving England an opportunity to bowl that otherwise only the bravest captain would have chosen.
Overton justified his selection over Saqib Mahmood, England’s catching was vastly improved, while Hameed vindicated his promotion in place of the discarded Dom Sibley.
India, by contrast, were awful – their batting loose, bowling without venom and fielding scruffy.
The past has shown us that even the longest odds can be overcome at Headingley – England won from being bowled out for 67 in Stokes’ Test – and an India victory from here would rank alongside that incredible comeback.
Anderson leads England juggernaut
Root said he was not disappointed to lose the toss. It took Anderson only five deliveries to show why.
KL Rahul was drawn into a needless drive and, soon after, Cheteshwar Pujara prodded at a beautiful outswinger. When Kohli was again seduced into playing away from his body, Anderson was at the centre of England’s emotional celebrations.
Collectively, England held their length to take advantage of the slight encouragement offered by the pitch. As Ollie Robinson had Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant either side of lunch to take wicketkeeper Jos Buttler to five catches, Rohit Sharma was stuck at the other end with only 18 from his first 100 balls.
It was Rohit’s demise that began the real carnage. Overton dragged back his length and a horrible pull was caught at mid-on. From the next ball, also shorter, Mohammed Shami fenced to third slip.
In the next over, Ravindra Jadeja played across Curran to be leg before, while Jasprit Bumrah joined Shami in registering a golden duck, meaning both of the tailenders who engineered England’s Lord’s downfall were out first ball.
When Mohammed Siraj guided to first slip Root to give Overton his third wicket, India were dismissed for their lowest total against England in 47 years.
Hameed the icing on England’s cake
England’s poor run of results – they are without a win in seven Tests – is largely down to batting fragility.
The latest reshuffle has seen Dawid Malan recalled to bat at three and Hameed join Burns to form England’s 18th different specialist opening pair in nine years.
The result was England producing only their third opening stand of 100 or more since 2016 as Hameed and Burns made the previously tricky surface look docile.
Hameed mixed solid front-foot defence with wristy clips and punchy cuts. His only error was an edge off Bumrah on 47, with Rohit’s drop at second slip giving Hameed the boundary that took him to his first Test half-century on home soil.
Left-hander Burns swatted Siraj for six over square leg and reached his own half-century just before the close as the Headingley crowd taunted India in the evening sunshine.
By the end, England had laid the perfect platform for a huge first-innings total, and they will hope Malan can cash in on Thursday to add further success to their raft of changes.
‘A perfect day for England’ – what they said
England bowler James Anderson on BBC Test Match Special: “We had a really low week at Lord’s, but we had a good few days off to let that pass. We came here hungry and ready to show fight.
“We did that with the ball – the whole attack did really well. Then the two guys with the bat showed so much skill and fight.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “It’s been the perfect day. England have been exceptional. It was a magnificent performance by the bowlers. It is exactly what England needed.
“India batted appallingly considering the amount of talent that they have in their changing room. KL Rahul set the tone with a poor drive, Virat Kohli with a poor stroke, Rishabh Pant with a nothing stroke, Rohit Sharma with a half-hearted pull shot, Ravindra Jadeja just missing a full straight delivery.”
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “England haven’t done anything wrong today. It’s hard to imagine India having a worst day than this.”
- 78 is India’s third-lowest total against England – and their lowest since being bowled out for 42 at Lord’s in 1974.
- It is India’s third-lowest total after winning the toss and choosing to bat first against any side.
- England passed the opposition’s total without losing a wicket for only the fifth time in Tests.