Dismantling the English squad for 287, the Indians had effectively planned on a detailed approach to facing Anderson and Stuart Broad - England's pace-bowling leaders. To their credit, they carried out their plans quite successfully, but only to meet with misfortune at the hands of a very unexpected source - England's 20-year-old pacer Sam Curran, who is playing his second-ever Test match. As Curran used some ingenious swing to trap Murali Vijay plumb in front, and then force errors out of KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan with contrasting deliveries, all in a space of just eight balls, India started struggling and has found it hard to recover ever since. Curran also prised Hardik Pandya out in the later stage with a low good-length ball that trapped the all-rounder in front of the wicket.
So now, the question arises - who is Sam Curran? A relatively unknown figure until now, Sam Curran is probably the latest among a long list of players who emerge as superstars after a sudden impactful performance against Indian sides (other examples I can remember being James Faulkner, Ajanta Mendis, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Steven Smith, etc.).
Sam Curran is the younger brother of Tom Curran, also an England International, who has featured in England's ODI and T20I sides so far. They have another brother Ben, who is younger and plays for Surrey with both siblings. Ben is supposed to be a bright future prospect.
Their father, Kevin Curran, played 11 ODIs for Zimbabwe and had a long career in county cricket with Northamptonshire. Now you know where the Curran brothers' cricketing property comes from. It was in their DNA.
Despite being just 20 as of now, Sam has been on the radar of national selectors from a young age. In 2015, he made his debut for Surrey in the County Championship at the age of 17. The same season, he took eight wickets in a single game against Kent and that skyrocketed his value, taking him up the ranks of the England Lions (England 'A' team). The most important of all breaks came up earlier this year when he took ten wickets in a game against Yorkshire, the side the featured Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Indian batting prodigy Cheteshwar Pujara (who was dismissed by Curran in both innings).
The game saw him being called up to England's Test squad against Pakistan in June 2018. Just two days short of his 20th birthday (which he celebrated on Day 3 of the test), he debuted as England's seventh youngest player, but he struggled to cope with conditions in the first innings, delivering a single spell of 7.1 - 0 - 33 - 1, his first ever Test wicket being that of Shadab Khan. He bounced back incredibly in the second innings, delivering 7 - 2 - 10 -1, again Shadab Khan becoming his prey as Pakistan crumbled to an innings defeat.
In England's first innings earlier yesterday, Curran contributed a valuable 24, proving himself to be able with the bat. In the domestic setup, he is definitely an all-rounder with 11 fifties from 42 first-class games so far.
The best of Curran's contribution in the game was yet to happen as he licked the Indian top-order clean, and then came back just before tea-break to break a threatening 48-run partnership between Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya. In doing so, Curran has also broken the 88-year old English record of being the youngest bowler to pick up a four-for. With four wickets of India yet to fall, there is a high chance that he will increase his tally as well.
A huge disadvantage (that has been spoken about him) is his height, as Curran is not really tall for a pace-bowler, at 5ft and 9in. However, his skill levels make up for what he lacks, as his ability to swing the ball and land it at right areas makes him potentially lethal. As he can perform with the bat as well, he has the opportunity of making it as a proper all-rounder for the England side. With more than adecade of cricket ideally left to play, Curran can definitely prosper if he utilizes his abilities to the optimum levels.Published 02 Aug 2018, 20:57 IST