England vs India 2018: Dhawan's drop to reprieve Sam Curran is SK Turning Point of 1st Test
When the fourth day's play began at Edgbaston, the match was still on a knife-edge. England needed to see the back of Virat Kohli to clear their route to victory. On the other hand, India required one significant partnership to get closer to the target.
With the stage set for heroes to be made, Ben Stokes gave an apt display of his irresistible temperament by trapping Kohli in front. He eventually outclassed Hardik Pandya to seal a momentous 31-run triumph for England.
Needless to say, the narrow defeat will be quite jarring for India's psyche. When the curtains fall and the dust settles, they may mostly look back at their inept batting performance as not one individual offered any sort of support to Kohli.
However, another key reason for India's loss was their abysmal slip catching. In such regard, England fared no better. But when push came to shove, the visitors ended up paying the price.
The pivotal moment in the game came when Shikhar Dhawan dropped Sam Curran during the post-lunch session on the third day. England's lead, at that point in time, stood at a mere 120 runs. However, the 20-year old made the most of his reprieve by changing the complexion of the game.
Dhawan makes a costly mistake
Riding on Ishant Sharma's roaring spell, India were able to rip through England's middle-order. The post-lunch session on the third play aggravated the hosts' woes as Buttler edged one to the wicket-keeper. England were effectively at 100/7.
Curran settled into the crease by unfurling a couple of delectable drives. Little did anyone know that the interesting passage of play would end up having a profound effect on the state of the game.
Mohammed Shami induced a loose shot from Curran. Admittedly, edges of attempted square cuts are not easy to pouch. But Dhawan did not even give himself the best chance. Contrary to the only expectation from any slip fielder, he reacted slowly.
By the time he got low and dropped his hands, the ball kissed Dhawan's fingers and evaded his clutches. The frustration and agony was writ on Kohli's face even as the ball sped to the boundary.
Curran cuts loose
Buoyed by the reprieve, Curran kept flashing hard at almost everything outside the off-stump. India's seamers played into his hands. Shunning the impressive discipline that they had showed against the specialist batsmen, the fast bowlers began to spray the ball around.
With the situation tailor-made for a counterattack, Curran started to plunder a slew of boundaries against the Indian pacers. Whilst some of those were streaky, the remarkable confidence from the young man started to unsettle Kohli's troops.
Dhawan's slip catching woes continued further. He put down a simpler chance to let Rashid off the hook. Fortunately for India, this drop did not cost much as Umesh Yadav breached the right-hander's defence.
On the other hand, Curran took the attack to Ravichandran Ashwin. After punishing a rare long hop from the off-spinner, the southpaw came down the track and sent the ball sailing into the grand stand. He brought up his maiden Test fifty by hammering Ishant for a lofted six over the cover boundary.
By the time Curran fell, the damage had already been done. His 65-ball 63 turned what could have been a 140-150 target into a dicey chase of 194. Having been given a new lease from life from the lower-order charge, England's bowlers rose to the occasion. Upon overcoming Kohli's resilience, they collectively held their nerve to seal an euphoric victory.