Rishabh Pant was dancing down the pitch and hitting them into the stands. He was reverse slogging James Anderson, again. He fell flat on the pitch after hitting one down the ground. He tried to sweep the spinner, sweep the fast bowlers. The Edgbaston crowd was treated to a Rishabh Pant special as the young wicketkeeper-batter proved yet again why he is one of the most entertaining cricketers in whites.
Rishabh Pant’s blitzkrieg with a solid lending hand from Ravindra Jadeja helped India post 338 for 7 on a rain-affected opening day of the much-anticipated 5th Test between India and England in Birmingham on Friday, July 1.
India were in tatters as they were reduced to 98 for 5 after Ben Stokes won the toss and opted to bat but Pant and Jadeja made sure stand-in captain Jasprit Bumrah and head coach Rahul Dravid had a smile on their face at the end of the day’s play as Pant and Jadeja gave England a taste of their own medicine.
Pant showcased that he had been “baz balling” ever since he donned the India whites to an England side that had headed into the 5th Test with plenty of confidence after hammering world Test champions New Zealand 3-0 with what is famously called the “Baz Ball” approach under head coach Brendon McCullum.
PANT, JADEJA DEMOLISH ENGLISH ATTACK
India scored 164 runs in 29 overs in the final session at close to a run-a-ball as Pant grounded down the English bowling attack.
At Stumps, India reached 338 for 7 in just 73 overs as Ravindra Jadeja remained unbeaten on 83 and Mohammed Shami on 0. England picked up 2 late wickets, including the big one, towards the end of the day’s play but India would have certainly had the happier dressing room.
Pant hit his 5th Test hundred in just 89 balls and finished 146 in just 112 balls as he tore into the England attack. The wicketkeeper-batter, who is making it a habit to pull off such special knocks, hit England left-arm spinner, Jack Leach, into the stands for fun as he set a new record for the fastest hundred by an Indian wicketkeeper in Tests, going past MS Dhoni’s tally of 93 from 2005-06.
Pant hit 4 sixes and 20 boundaries as he led the Indian fightback, on Day 1 of the rescheduled Test, which is a spillover from last year’s 5-match Test series. India are already leading the series 2-1 after victories at Lord’s and Oval under Virat Kohli’s captaincy last year.
It needed a batter to think like a batter and deliver to Pant as Joe Root got the big wicket minutes before close of play. Root floated one well outside the off-stump and Pant was caught at first slip when he tried to get to his 150 with a glory shot.
Jadeja deserves a lot of credit for not merely hanging around with Pant but also keeping the scoreboard moving at a brisk pace during their 222-run stand for the 6th wicket.
Ben Stokes and new head coach Brendon McCullum have plenty to ponder as India wrestled back into contention as the hosts let slip a wonderful opportunity to wrap things up much earlier.
ANDERSON, POTTS IMPRESS
Winning the toss under the pregnant clouds in Edgbaston, Stokes opted to bat last after having chased down scores in excess of 250 with ease against New Zealand at home recently. Stokes’s decision worked in their favour, initially, as James Anderson got the red cherry to swing in overcast conditions.
After taking out Shubman Gill, who looked impressive during his 24-ball 17, James Anderson sent back Cheteshwar Pujara, who was sent in to open the innings in the absence of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul.
Hanuma Vihari, who retained his No. 3 spot was sent back for a 53-ball 20 by newbie Matty Potts who also got the prized wicket of Virat Kohli for 11.
Kohli, who was expected to carry on the good form he showcased in the practice match against Leicestershire, fell while trying to leave a ball as he continued his run of finding new ways to get out.
Shreyas Iyer, who batted at No. 6 after Pant was promoted to No. 5 fell for a quickfire 15 as Anderson cramped him for room down the leg-side. Iyer fell for 15 as India slipped to 98 for 5.
Just when England were looking to put a tight leash on India’s scoring rate, Pant and Jadeja counter-attacked and put the pressure right back on the hosts.