Pant leads fightback on thrilling first day

Pant leads fightback on thrilling first day

Rishabh Pant starred with the bat on a rain-affected first day of the re-arranged fifth Test against England to wrestle control back for the tourists at Edgbaston (India 5/4, England 17/10, Draw 11/4 – Match Betting).

Having successfully chased in each of the three Tests against New Zealand and with the overhead conditions in the bowlers’ favour, it was no surprise that captain Ben Stokes opted to bowl first, having won the toss.

The returning James Anderson (pictured), who missed the third Test against the Black Caps with an ankle problem, has proven himself to be the master with the moving ball, and he emphasised his standing with a brilliant spell to help reduce India to 98-5.

Test cricket’s most successful fast bowler removed Shubman Gill (17) and Cheteshwar Pujara (13) early on – both caught by Zak Crawley in the slips. He then had Shreyas Iyer (15) caught behind by Sam Billings – keeping wicket in place of the injured Ben Foakes – to put the tourists in big trouble at 98-5.

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Matt Potts continues to enhance his burgeoning reputation after trapping Hanuma Vihari (20) in front before bowling former India skipper Virat Kohli (11), who inadvertently played on.

However, not for the first time; it was Pant who led the fightback with an aggressive counter-attack that dragged his side back into the contest.

The left-hander shared a brutal 222-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja, and India (2-1 up after four Tests last summer) will now be feeling more confident of victory to confirm the series win.

Pant smashed his way to 146 off just 111 balls, an innings which included 19 fours and four sixes, before he fell to Joe Root becoming Crawley’s third victim at slip with the score at 320-6.

Shardul Thakur (1) quickly followed the wicketkeeper-batter back to the pavilion after gloving a Stokes’ bouncer to Billings as England sensed an opening, but Jadeja (8/13 to score a hundred) remains at the crease on 83, with Mohammed Shami surviving 11 balls late in the day to help India close on 338-7.

There is still work for both sides to do on day two, but there is little doubt India will be the happier of the two sides, having dug themselves out of a huge hole, with three wickets still in hand.

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Author: Lucas Carlson