India’s Test campaign against England started on a tough note at Edgbaston on Wednesday (August 1). After losing Alastair Cook early in the innings, the pair of Keaton Jennings and skipper Joe Root forged a 72-run stand for the second wicket to bail the hosts out of trouble.
With Root scoring a measured half-century and Jonny Bairstow making a dazzling fifty, England found themselves in a commanding position (216/3) in the final session. However, India captain Virat Kohli’s off-balanced one-handed throw to get rid of his English counterpart on 80 changed the script.
England lost 6 wickets for 69 runs in the final session to finish the opening day at 285/9. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was the stand-out bowler for the visitors as he recorded his best figures (4/60) in Test cricket across South Africa, England and Australia. Mohammad Shami was the other notable contributor with the ball, scalping 2 for 64 at the crucial juncture.
Addressing the media conference after the end of first day’s play, Shami highlighted the hard grind on slow Edgbaston pitch and seemed pleased with the overall bowling effort of the team.
“As you have seen the wicket is a little slower, there is hard work for sure, we have to maintain good line and length all day. It was a little tough initially because it was slow and a little damp. As the day went on, the wicket came good. As a bowling unit we have stopped them well from 216-3, you can see what we have done,” Shami told reporters.
“As a bowling unit and as an individual, I am very happy today. This is the thing I have worked hard for and we have been able to bring it forward successfully. There are ups and downs in life and in your family. But when playing for your country there is a responsibility and when you do that job properly, I think that’s the best thing. So I am very happy with today,” he added.
During the post-lunch session, Shami pulled things back for India with two quick wickets. He removed the well-settled Jennings and Dawid Malan to reduce England to 163/3.
“Initially when you bowl on such wickets here you get an idea how it will behave and what you need to keep doing. So there weren’t many changes in our approach during the day but we tried to control line and length through the day, and try not to give any width. The lesser the width to batsmen, the better,” Shami remarked.
Hailing Ashwin’s stellar bowling performance, the speedster said: “He bowled very well today. Usually in English conditions, you see fast bowlers doing well. For a spinner to come early in the spell and do so well, it gave us confidence too,” he said. “Overall the fast bowlers did well and he combined well with us. So we didn’t miss the second spinner as we had experience on our side and it can be seen in the results.”
When asked about team’s strategy going ahead in the series, Shami said the things will change according to the conditions.
“If you see in a Test match, there is a lot of time and you can come back if there is a good partnership. You bowl according to the wicket and batsmen, so as a captain or as a bowler, you get to think. You can assess situations as per the wicket, how much grass is there or not, and that’s how you choose your bowling unit and then work on the basis of that. You have to work within that unit and believe that you can win,” he concluded.