Rain wins out in first Test as Trent Bridge finale washed out

By Sports Desk August 08, 2021

No play was possible on the final day of the first Test between England and India, with persistent rain in Nottingham wiping out the possibility of an intriguing finish to the series opener.

India had been due to resume their second innings on 52-1 requiring a further 157 for victory, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara the unbeaten batsmen with both on 12 not out.

However, the players never made it out onto the field as bad weather at Trent Bridge meant an absorbing contest, one that had ebbed and flowed through the four previous days, finished in a rather disappointing draw.

England had set their opponents 209 thanks mainly to an outstanding century from captain Joe Root, his 21st in Test cricket but first on home soil since September 2018.

Jasprit Bumrah's five-wicket haul made sure India were not chasing too many, with the tourists only losing opener KL Rahul – caught behind off the bowling of Stuart Broad for 26 – in a tricky 14-over spell prior to the close on Saturday.

Yet the English weather had the last word on proceedings, meaning the teams remain at 0-0 in the five-match series as the focus quickly switches to the second Test, which begins at Lord's on Thursday.

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    The hosts recovered from 51-5 in their second innings with Test debutant Iyer (65) following up an impressive century in the first, and Saha adding an unbeaten 61 before India declared on 234-7.

    Chasing a target of 284, New Zealand lost Will Young (2) early in their reply and needing 280 runs to win ahead of what promises to be a tense final day.

    Resuming on 14-1, India lost five wickets in a troublesome morning session with Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson snagging a pair of wickets and Ajaz Patel also doing damage.

    Iyer was once again his team's main protagonist, though, putting on partnerships of 52 and 64 with Ashwin (32) and Saha to turn the tide.

    He eventually nicked Southee behind to Tom Blundell but Saha, who had four fours and one six in his knock, continued to frustrate the tourists and an eighth-wicket stand of 77 with Axar Patel convinced stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane to call it.

    As the light began to dwindle, only four overs were possible in New Zealand's reply, but there was still enough time for Ashwin to trap Young (2) lbw, who was too late calling for a review that would have shown the ball missing leg stump.

    Debut to remember for Iyer

    In a Test match relatively short of runs, the 170 across both innings from Iyer has been vitally important for his team, and is particularly impressive given he last played a multi-day match nearly three years ago.

    Iyer hit eight fours and a six from the 125 balls he faced on Sunday, but most importantly, he dragged India back into the Test match and will be a strong contender for player of the match should his team complete the job on day five.

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    It was the second time in as many days that New Zealand forced themselves into an excellent position, before allowing India to regain control as the day progressed.

    After collapsing from 197-2 to 296 all out in their first innings on day three, the Black Caps had India reeling with only five wickets remaining and a 100-run lead, before allowing them to add a further 183 with the next two wickets before the declaration.

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    The Caribbean team is currently 1-0 down after suffering a lop-sided defeat to Sri Lanka in the first Test.  In the end, the regional team lost by 187 runs, but that could have been even worse were it not for a 100-run partnership between Bonner and Joshua Da Silva.  The duo were the only ones to get above the half-century mark and to say the majority of other batsmen found the going difficult would be an understatement.

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    "It's difficult when players don't get a start. In the first innings, the ball was holding and spinning. It was a different challenge in the second innings when the ball was sliding at times, and spinning too. We have to come up with smart tactics in order to play all the left-arm spinners."

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    Cricket West Indies (CWI) has since confirmed that the match will come during the upcoming series against Ireland in January.  Gayle, the format’s top runs scorer and holder of more than a few records, admits he is looking forward to the game.

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