When it became clear that England were on the way to victory, former skipper Nasser Hussain noted Edgbaston's affinity with game-changing all-rounders. In the 1981 Ashes, Ian Botham's manic spell sparked a decisive lower-order collapse. During the 2005 Ashes, Andrew Flintoff trumped Ricky Ponting in a whirlwind duel.
Thirteen years since that epic Test match, Edgbaston provided another classic for the ages. This time around, it was another star all-rounder who had the final say in the pulsating contest. At a time when India appeared to be on target, Ben Stokes pulled England back into ascendancy in the riveting fourth day's play.
At 141/6, India were only 53 runs away from what could have been their most iconic triumph on English soil. Skipper Virat Kohli had just reached his half-century. Hardik Pandya was beginning to hit his stride. History beckoned. Then, Stokes happened.
Stokes has the lethal impact
Acknowledging the compactness with which Kohli was operating around the off-stump, Stokes looked to target his pads. Conventional thinking would have forced any bowler to veer away from the right-hander's eminent strength. But he was also making himself vulnerable by moving across the line.
Operating from wide over the stumps, Stokes got one to curl back in. Kohli had made up his mind to play the flick. In his defence, the ball was there to be hit. Much to India's misfortune, he missed and the ball smashed into his pads. Umpire Aleem Dar had no hesitation in raising his finger. Even a last-gasp use of DRS could not save the Indian captain.
Stokes consolidated England's position by dismissing Mohammed Shami in the same over. His smart use of the angle meant that the lower-order batsman had to play at a rising delivery. The extra bounce as well as the straightening line induced the outside edge.
Although wickets kept falling at the other end, Pandya's presence kept India's aspirations hanging by the skin. With 32 runs separating the visitors from the finish line, England still had work to do. Stokes attempted to get under his counterpart's skin. As the partisan crowd bellowed in approval, he was thriving amidst palpable pressure.
He sealed a famous England victory by coercing Pandya to nick one to Alastair Cook at first slip. The phlegmatic opener made no mistake, this time around. India's will was broken by the Durham all-rounder's composure.
After producing the match-winning spell, Stokes seemed to be lost for words. He quipped, "We weren't quite sure what to expect here. Knew we needed five wickets and we had all the confidence. These games are brilliant. We've copped a lot of stick as a team recently and beating a team like India there has closed a few mouths."
"Winning those tight games, you can't underestimate what it gives teams for confidence. We've got a five-match series here, so we'll take all the confidence we can. No better way to start off than that."
Confidence is probably the most accurate word to describe Stokes' game. Although he may be taken a 1-0 lead, England should approach Lord's with caution as they might not be able to turn to their game-changer if push warrants shove.Published 04 Aug 2018, 19:20 IST