England win thrilling first Test after Ben Stokes breaks Virat Kohli resistance

MIKE ATHERTONAugust 1 2018 12:01am The Times Time for Joe Root to take England in a clear direction Mike Atherton Chief Cricket Correspondent

A few people who saw him in his first game wondered what some of the fuss was about.

Pope replaced Dawid Malan, the Middlesex left-hander dropped after a run of low scores.

There have been injuries and below-par performances, with Stokes seemingly drifting and unable to drag himself away from the team environment even when niggling fitness problems have left him on the sidelines.

Root did at least bag one notable career milestone, displacing Alastair Cook as his country's quickest to 6,000 Test runs when he reached 40 here.

Yes, he has to have a lot of skill to succeed at Test level, that nearly goes without saying. He has fight and an over-my-dead-body attitude. It was hard to bat, probably more hard than it looked from outside.

India's linchpin spinner was able to nip in the bud of unsafe Jos Buttler.

Some players might have given up at that point, because an Indian win seemed inevitable.

Indian skipper Kohli, who scored an outstanding knock of 149 in the first innings and added another 51 in the second, added: "It was a great game of cricket and I was glad to be involved in such a fantastic Test match". Kohli's review came more in hope than expectation.

He ran down the pitch to him twice in successive balls, clobbered a six and a four, and hit him out of the attack. And they were proper cricket shots - not slogs. He bowls faster and faster, and loses the flight and guile that makes him so unsafe the rest of the time. European Central Bank has organized a home tournament and invited India to visit them. "The fact we didn't play to our potential and were still close in the game says everything about our side", the India captain said. It was a big moment for both teams - and for Curran to have the nous to put India on the back foot at the age of 20 spoke volumes for his temperament. The youngster's journey from a promising youngster to becoming a big thing in England national team has been a rollercoaster ride.

"He's gone about things exactly how he was in every other game - and I don't see that ever changing".

England had prefaced their evening woe with an earlier stumble which left them 112 for three - before Root and Bairstow joined forces in early afternoon. But Curran got them going, and his teammates fed off him to reclaim the momentum. "We definitely need to apply ourselves better with the bat, but England came back superbly and we need to take the positives and move forward", Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony on Saturday.

The use of the Dukes ball also added to the excitement, felt Hussain.

The 33-year-old's poor form with the bat continues as he was out for a duck in what proved to be the last ball of the day.

So that will be the next phase of his development.

"I think it's sometimes easy to criticise the batting group but I thought the way both seaming groups in particular bowled was outstanding and hence why we finished so quickly". And if he manages to do that, England could have a hell of a cricketer on their hands.

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