Having won the toss, England were in complete shambles, at 0-1, which later turned to 138-3 before a landslide crash meant that they only could get to 183 runs in their first innings despite Root’s 64. India in reply, at stumps, are 21/0, still 162 runs behind in the first innings in Nottingham.
Jasprit Bumrah’s turnaround in form from WTC Final
When India took the field in Southampton, it was a given that Jasprit Bumrah would be one of the key bowlers for the Men in Blue. In the first innings against New Zealand, barring a few patches, the India pacer was largely struggling, conceding 57 runs without picking a single wicket. While he had shown signs of improvement in the second innings, the wickets continued to be away from him, which led to an Indian loss.
Even in the warm-up game against County Select XI, the Indian pacer had only picked up a single wicket in two innings. Coming into the first Test in Nottingham against England, the pacer was under pressure, on the back of his continued failures, starting from the home series against India, where he averaged 32.25 with the ball.
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) August 4, 2021
In Nottingham, however, Bumrah was at his level best, with a scintillating delivery that caught English opener, Rory Burns, by complete surprise. Four outswingers later, Bumrah had delivered an in-swinger, which caught Burns out of the guard. According to Cricviz, In the first five overs, India averaged 2.6 degrees of swing, their second-most in England, since 2006.
20.4 overs, four maidens, 46 runs and four wickets – Bumrah certainly showed that his form wasn’t a big worry and won’t be a big worry for India in this tour. He wasn’t just getting the ball to swing, he was getting it to swerve, seam, bounce and definitely, got the ball in the sweet yorker spot. Bumrah is back, folks!
An average of 63 against India, Joe Root walked into this series on the back of tremendous pressure. Now just imagine that the English skipper, who had literally taken the team on his back in the past year was under pressure because of his form at home. While some saw it as temporary, the others saw a pattern that seemingly had eaten up the seasoned campaigner and they had just lost to New Zealand at home. That added more pressure on the right-hander, to get off to a quick start and then convert the start into a substantial score.
Since 2018, the English skipper averaged 32.79 at home, in comparison to his swashbuckling performances away from home. In the last three years, barring Australia, West Indies and India, Root averages well beyond the 50-mark in Test cricket. With just one hundred at home, there was certainly pressure on him to step up. But at this venue, Root continued his golden run, having scored 434 runs at an average of 62 earlier here in Nottingham.
Even when the deliveries were good length from the seamers, where his average is just 22.6, Root ensured that he wouldn’t be gobbled up by the pressure, continuing to show his class all around the ground, in exquisite fashion. 15,379* runs in international cricket, Root not only shut rust in home conditions with the bat but more importantly stood up to the challenge. And when he walked back, he scored 64, one more than his average, against India.
England definitely looked undercooked in Nottingham
“Fear cuts deeper than swords,” wrote George RR Martin and he wasn’t wrong. Fear certainly cut England deeper than swords, fear of being undercooked, fear of being underprepared, fear of facing a unit made in wonderland. When India had their three days of practice against a County Select XI, there was England and the English players, who were playing in The Hundred. Barring Haseeb Hameed, who scored a scintillating century in the warm-up game, there were none of the Usual Suspects anywhere near a red-ball, there was not a County game going or hell even a practise game for the hosts.
Out of the top six, only three batsmen had faced any deliveries with the red ball – Burns (189), Sibley (271), Crawley (6) – with the others having faced no deliveries since the New Zealand Test series. From 138-3 to 160-9, England’s batting unit looked ordinary and was always meant to be, given how they had performed in the two-match Test series against New Zealand. Since 2019, Jonny Bairstow had just played two red-ball games in England, which certainly showed here against India. With the scheduling really not having too much of County games, rather nothing friendly for the English players, they definitely looked undercooked in Nottingham, where only three batsmen stood out.
And in the others, there were a bunch of soft dismissals, including Dominic Sibley, Daniel Lawrence and definitely Ollie Robinson. England would now definitely rue for not having any red-ball fixtures before the tour.