ENG vs IND | Headingley Day 1 Talking Points: The ageless James Anderson, India’s embarrassing collapse and England's refreshing start

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Anderson dented India with three early strikes


ENG vs IND | Headingley Day 1 Talking Points: The ageless James Anderson, India’s embarrassing collapse and England's refreshing start

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Roshan Gede


India's first-innings collapse of 78 all-out was a major highlight on Day 1 of their third Test against England at Headingley. Openers Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns then gave the visitors a runaround, scoring fifties, thereby guiding the hosts to 120/0 at stumps to help them gain a 42-run lead.

James Anderson’s ageless brilliance

Much like he has done over the course of his remarkable career, James Anderson has continued to lead England’s seam-bowling attack with great distinction in the ongoing England-India series. He bagged a five-for each in the first two Tests at Trent Bridge and Lord’s respectively, the former perhaps more highlighted with the successive dismissals of Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.

It was at Headingley however, where the 39-year-old reminded us of his exemplary skills with the new ball. For the first time in the series, England dominated the game’s first session, courtesy of the veteran’s early burst. In an extended eight-over opening burst that read a staggering 8-5-6-3, Anderson had each of KL Rahul, Pujara and Kohli caught behind. While the in-form Rahul, and Kohli were undone by fuller-length away swingers, luring the right-handers to play an extravagant drive, Pujara was caught in his crease with smart alteration in lengths.

Kohli's dismissal was uncanningly similar to the one at Trent Bridge, making it the seventh time that Anderson got the better of right-hander. No other bowler has dismissed Kohli more often in Test cricket.

India were reduced to 21/3 in no time, never to recover again, and were eventually bundled out for 78 - their ninth lowest innings total in Tests.

India’s embarrassing collapse

India’s over-reliance on openers had almost cost them in the second innings at Lord’s, before they were rescued by two crucial partnerships. On Wednesday, however, there was no respite from the English bowlers, who were all over the hosts right from the word go.

After Anderson’s brilliance, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane battled for 15 overs, before the latter was dismissed minutes before lunch. The second session saw India lose wickets in clusters, as was the case during that fateful afternoon in Adelaide. India collapsed from 56/3 to 78 all-out, as only Rohit and Rahane crossed 8 in an innings that saw three ducks being registered.

This was India’s ninth lowest innings total in Test cricket, their third lowest against England. The hosts’ solid reply has shifted the balance significantly in their favour at the end of Day 1. However, Headingley’s rich history of miracles and India’s recent bowling form keeps us on our toes.

Rohit’s misfiring instincts

Throughout the English summer, Rohit has successfully managed to survive the most difficult passage of play, that of seeing off the new ball under swinging conditions. However, a recurring theme has been his untimely dismissals, which have been more a product of his debatable shot-selection than the bowlers’ brilliance.

Thrice in this series, Rohit has fallen to the pull shot - perhaps his most productive one too - after getting off to a start. His sublime 83 in the first-innings at Lord’s was followed by a scratchy 21 in the second, where he pulled one off Mark Wood straight to Moeen Ali at long-leg after having top-edged a six earlier. At Trent Bridge, the 97-run opening stand was broken by a mistimed pull towards long leg.

On Wednesday, India needed more from their limited-overs vice-captain, who had worked his way to a 75-ball 15 in the first session. However, his 105-ball vigil ended with an awkwardly mistimed hook, this time off Craig Overton, spooned to Ollie Robinson at short mid-on.

While the shot has brought him great success across formats, the recurring mode of his dismissals in Test cricket might just raise debates. With his solid and assured defence, Rohit has shown that he’s a capable Test batsman. However, he might have to forgo instincts at times, especially in challenging conditions to set up games for his side.

England’s refreshing start

3, 10, 17, 4, 0, 63, 17, 0, 0, 2, 10, 10, 49, 4, 0, 72, 37, 0, 1, 23

England’s poor starts at the top had been a prominent feature of their struggles since the start of 2021 until the Lord’s Test. The opening pair aggregated 322 in the period, averaging a meagre 16.1, with Dom Sibley switching partners in Rory Burns and Zak Crawley.

With bowlers setting the tone first up and Haseeb Hameed back to the opening slot, the hosts discovered a new-found discipline and a bit of intent right at the top at Headingley. Hameed and Burns showed a great mix of patience and application to stitch an unbeaten 120-run partnership at stumps - England’s first century stand for the opening wicket after 25 innings.

The hosts will especially be thrilled with Hameed’s contribution, who had registered 0 and 9 on his comeback at Lord’s after the highs in County cricket. With Dom Sibley’s recent struggles, the 24-year-old might well be on course to end England’ search for a batting mainstay in an otherwise vulnerable top order.

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