Photo: Twitter/ @BCCI

Playing out over 200 balls, KL Rahul proved to be a picture of stern resilience and unperturbed concentration as India came out on top in the first innings of the first Test against England. Despite the wind speed and the Dukes ball creating mischief, Rahul stood out amongst his contemporaries as his gritty knock put India on top on Day Three at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. 

Bowling first in the match, India’s pacers did well to skittle out the hosts for 183 runs in the first innings. With a subpar first innings target, the Indian team had a strong chance to stamp their authority on the game, and openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma did not disappoint. The duo showed great patience and composure to play out over 20 overs at the end of their first in fading light against a world class English attack. 

Rahul and Sharma continued to pile on the runs the next morning, as they added 97 runs for the first wicket, tiring out the English pacers in the process. Sharma was out shortly before lunch on Day Two, and his wicket triggered a mini collapse as Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were all dismissed for cheap scores, leaving the team score at 112/4. 

Despite seeing his partners falter, Rahul’s focus never wavered as he remained solid at the other end, forging a fightback with new man Rishabh Pant. The Punjab Kings captain got to his fifty with a delicate late dab towards backward point, announcing his return to Test cricket in some style. 

Pretty on the eye, Rahul played many of those trademark textbook drives and cuts, getting 12 fours in his innings, leading from the front to help India achieve a first innings lead. Despite having a couple of rain interruptions and seeing players lose their bearings from the other end, the Indian opener’s steely resolve in difficult conditions earned the adulation of all. 

Rahul was finally dismissed for 84 by James Anderson with a ball that swung late, but his fighting knock left the English pacers fatigued as India picked up a lead of 95 runs in the first innings. 

Shami shines yet again

Following up from the World Test Championship Final, where he was India’s top wicket-taker in the first innings, Mohammed Shami proved to be the batsman’s bane yet again in swinging, English conditions. 

The Punjab Kings pacer unsettled the English top-order with his swing and seam, as he accounted for the wickets of Dominic Sibley, Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence. The latter was dismissed without opening his account, while Bairstow’s wicket proved to be an important break in a partnership that threatened to give England the control on the opening day. Shami’s persistent inroads, ably supported by the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Shardul Thakur ensured that England were dismissed for a score below 200 in their first innings.