Edgbaston Test: ‘New’ England expose India's flaws
The scorecard at stumps on Day III in Birmingham had pretty much suggested that England were on the backfoot in their own backyard. With a healthy first innings lead, India were already 257 runs ahead, had seven wickets in hand and seemed firmly in control.
But cricket doesn’t cease to surprise. Nor does this “new” England side, which rode on some class batsmanship from Joe Root (143 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (114 not out) to chase down a daunting 378-run target and win the rescheduled fifth Test by seven wickets on Tuesday. The series thus ended 2-2.
Since the second session of the penultimate day at Edgbaston, it was India’s turn to be surprised as England openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley put on an aggressive century-plus stand.
The three quick wickets then again tilted the scales back in India’s favour. However, Root and Bairstow produced a kind of game thereafter that left the Indians not just surprised but stunned.
But despite the English duo’s unbroken 150-run partnership on Monday, India still had in excess of 100 runs to defend. A couple of wickets within an hour into play on the final day would certainly have put them back on top.
But Root and Bairstow, who hit back-to-back hundreds in this game, just didn’t allow that to happen with their positive mindset, which helped England get those required 119 runs in only 19.4 overs on Tuesday morning.
Head coach Brendon McCullum’s way (“Bazball") of playing the game was executed only after Root and Bairstow, who’s in the form of his life, had reduced the deficit to below 50. Their proper cricketing strokes aside, they were solid defensively as well getting behind the line of each and every ball from the Indian bowlers. Root, in particular, had done well enough to survive Mohammed Shami’s testing spell late on Day IV.
In 2022, this was the third time India’s much-hailed fast bowling attack failed to defend a target in the fourth innings of an overseas Test. Agreed, this Edgbaston pitch had no demons in it at all, but a supposedly strong pace attack is expected to put some pressure on the opposition in the fourth innings, irrespective of the conditions. After all, India had 378 to defend, not some 200 odd runs.
WTC points docked
And if this defeat weren’t enough, India have also been docked two World Test Championship points for their slow over rate (being two overs short) in the Test match. India (52.08) have now slipped to fourth place in the standings behind Pakistan (52.38) in terms of percentage points.