Just a couple of days ago, Mohammed Shami laid down a marker when he bowled a peach of a delivery to destroy England skipper Alastair Cook’s off-stump. On day 5 of the second Test at Vizag, with England looking solid and soldering on towards a draw, he struck again.
Maybe the fact about England soldering on towards a draw was a bit of a stretch, but with Joe Root at the crease, there was always hope. Until the last over of day 4, where Ravindra Jadeja nabbed Alastair Cook, England actually looked like they might save the Test.
On day 5, it was a slightly different story.
The Indian spinners struck early with Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav taking the wickets of Ben Duckett, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes respectively.
Having suffered such a setback early on day 5, England desperately needed to recuperate. It was at this stage that Jonny Bairstow, England’s leading run-scorer in Tests in 2016 joined Joe Root out in the middle.
India had taken the new ball just 6 overs before Bairstow had walked in. They had persisted with spin for the first couple of overs, but the new ball was handed to Mohammed Shami in the 85th over.
There was a general consensus that England had survived the worst, and would be more comfortable with the ball coming on to the bat. For Joe Root, especially, this was really good news.
On day 5, he never truly looked settled. He was constantly troubled by Ravichandran Ashwin, who bowled a variety of lengths to trouble him. On one occasion, he had nearly even taken Root’s wicket when the umpire adjudged Root to have nicked one behind to the keeper before DRS intervened to save Root.
It was at this stage that Mohammed Shami came in to bowl his second over of the day to Joe Root
Every now and then, in Test cricket, you get to watch an incredible over, where the bowler completely outthinks the batsman. Rarely, however, does the bowler get immediate gratification with a wicket, but on the rarest of rare occasions, like day 5 on Vizag, the gods align to reward the bowler.
This was exactly what happened.
The events of the 87th over transpired as below –
86.1 – LBW appeal. Bowled just short of a length, pitches on a crack and it almost turns into a leg break as the ball viciously changes direction and hits him on the thigh pad. Too high for the umpire to really consider it.
86.2 – Similar line, slightly shorter this time, comes in with the angle and hits Root awkwardly on the body. He is clearly troubled.
86.3 – Goes fishing to a full delivery wide outside off and misses it, nearly finds the outside edge to the skips. He would normally not play that shot, the last two balls clearly playing on his mind.
86.4 – Yorker on off stump, gets his bat down just in time to keep it out. Mixing up the lengths perfectly here.
86.5 – On a length on off stump, Root gets back and defends. All 5 deliveries have been above 140 kmph.
86.6 – He’s got him! What a fine over! This is fuller and faster and swinging in viciously. Root is leaning across as he looks to flick it towards mid-on, but gets nowhere near the ball as he gets trapped right in front. The umpire raises his finger. Root wants the decision referred, and he is not in luck.
The review reveals that the ball was pitching in line, hitting him in front of middle and off, and going on to hit middle and leg. Three reds and he has to go.
Mohammed Shami had breached the last line of defense and it meant his team could sense victory. It has not been easy for India, with England battling extremely hard, having scored only 115 runs in 87 overs up until that point. But with Root gone, India knew it’s just a matter of when and not if.
Just about an hour later, India bowled out England for 158 and won the match by a mighty 246 runs to take a 1 – 0 lead in the series.