England vs India: Key learnings from the 5th Test
England beat India by seven wickets in the fifth Test to level the five-match series 2-2. The hosts chased 378, now the highest-ever against India in Test cricket. Although India were in the driving seat with a crucial lead, Joe Root (142*) and Jonny Bairstow (114*) starred in the record-breaking run-chase. India still eye their first Test series win in England since 2007.
Despite having a world-class bowling attack, India have failed to defend a substantial total in Test cricket of late. Earlier this year, South Africa chased 240 in Johannesburg and 212 in Cape Town against the Indians. And now, England were a cut above the rest at Edgbaston. Interestingly, India failed to defend over 200 just five times between 1932 and 2021.
The appointment of Brendon McCullum as England's Test head coach has shown positive results. He has successfully instilled his counter-attacking approach in the English batters. Bairstow's fearless mindset has been a by-product of the famous 'BazBall'. After pounding the bowlers throughout the New Zealand series, he shone in the Edgbaston Test. Bairstow, the Player of the Match, slammed twin-centuries (106 and 114*).
Another Test series saw the supremacy of Joe Root. The right-handed batter has upped his game after getting the burden of captaincy relieved. After shining in the NZ series, Root came out all guns blazing against India. He slammed his 28th Test ton at Edgbaston, now the most among active cricketers. Root is the Player of the Series, having scored 737 runs at 105.28.
India were well ahead of England by lunch on Day 4. Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer extended India's lead past the 300-run mark. However, India fell from 190/4 to 245/10 in no time. Just when the Indian batters could have batted England out of the Test, the hosts lost successive wickets. Although Rishabh Pant scored a vital 57 (86), the lower middle-order faltered.
Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja powered India's first innings with a scintillating ton. He smashed 104 off 194 balls, taking India toward the 400-run mark. However, Indian skipper Bumrah underused him while bowling. Jadeja bowled just two overs in the first innings and came into the attack very late on Day 5. He could have unsettled England's batters with his sharp delivers.
Talking of Indian batters, Pant outclassed each one of them at Edgbaston. After slamming an audacious 146, he scored an 86-ball 57 to power the Indian innings. He became only the second Indian wicket-keeper to register a century and a fifty in the same Test. The left-handed batter emulated Farokh Engineer's feat, who smashed 121 and 66 against England in 1973 (Mumbai BS).