The Trent Bridge Test was quite important for opener KL Rahul and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah.
Both came into the game facing a lot of questions. Rahul had played his last Test for India way back in September 2019 and made a return to the XI because of injuries to preferred openers Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal. It’s a tricky situation when you are not the first choice for the XI and get opportunities only because of injuries to others. You are way more than under pressure to do well than a player who is on the way out because of bad form.
Bumrah, meanwhile, had a poor outing – with no wickets to show for his efforts -- in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand in June. In the two Tests he played against England earlier this year at home, there were just four wickets to his name. And consequently, there were questions over his bowling approach, his line and length and what not. To be honest, it had reached a point where another bad game would have forced the team management to look at other options, in light of the importance of the series.
Both players, however as it turned out, came out firing on all cylinders. Bumrah looked like a new man. His line and length improved immeasurably. He created right angles, came back when England were 7-8 wickets down and unleashed yorkers to great perfection and hoovered up the tail in quick time. Opposition tailenders have often proved to be India’s nemesis but the Indian fast bowler came in with a plan and made sure they didn’t spoil the team’s good efforts earlier in the game. And the result was he finished the game with nine wickets, four in the first innings, five in the second.
Rahul, on what was undeniably a pacer-friendly wicket, batted like a champion. On his return to the Test arena, the batsman from Karnataka top-scored for India in the first innings with a masterful 84. He was cautious but whenever there was a bad delivery on offer, he looked eager to get a boundary off it.
He played some wonderful shots against a very potent English battery of fast bowlers. Yes, he had his share of luck but then every batsman in English conditions need that: chanceless innings are a rarity in England. Even in the second innings, he looked comfortable until he got out. But then frankly speaking, the Stuart Broad ball was just too much.
Bumrah and Rahul’s return to form is a good omen for India. To win a rubber – particularly against big Test nations -- a lot depends on how well your your openers as well as your new-ball bowlers perform. Needing 157 runs more on the last day with nine wickets in hand, India would have backed themselves to win the first contest in England but sadly rain got in the way of their aspirations.
Be that as it may, the Indian team wouldn’t be overly disappointed. They have a confident XI; have the momentum on their side having dominated most of the first Test. What appeared two weak points for India in the form of Rahul and Bumrah at the start of the match eventually turned out to be the strongest at the end of it. And that’s something which will give the visitors a lot of confidence heading into the second game, starting August 12 at Lord’s.