James Anderson said England “absolutely nailed it” after they dismissed India for just 78 on the opening day of the third Test at Headingley on Wednesday before surging into a first-innings lead without losing a wicket.
India captain Virat Kohli won the toss only for Anderson to remove a trio of top-order batsmen, including the tourists’ skipper, during a return of 3-6 in eight overs.
Anderson, the most successful fast bowler in Test history, then saw Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed pile on the agony for India with an unbroken stand of 120 that left England 42 runs ahead at stumps.
“We just absolutely nailed it. With both ball and bat we’ve displayed exactly what we wanted to do,” said Anderson.
It was just the third time any side had taken all 10 wickets and moved ahead on the first day of a Test without losing a single batsman in reply.
The previous occasion was during England’s triumph in a 2010 clash at Melbourne where they dismissed Australia for 98 before Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook took them to 157-0 at stumps.
Anderson is the last remaining England survivor from that match, with this game extending his national record of Test appearances to 165.
That left him well placed to put Wednesday’s events in perspective, with the 39-year-old telling reporters: “It doesn’t get much better than that, I don’t think. These days don’t come around very often, so you just have to be happy when they do.”
‘Not keen to bowl’
“The only difference with Melbourne is that I was keen to bowl there and I wasn’t today for some reason. I was trying to tempt Joe [Root, England captain] into batting!” he added.
“But losing the toss, being asked to bowl and then putting in a performance like that … it just doesn’t get much better.”
KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara fell to Anderson before he dismissed Kohli.
And with fellow pacemen Ollie Robinson, Craig Overton and Sam Curran taking the next seven wickets between them, Anderson was not required for a second spell.
Yet, there was still the worry for England – 1-0 down in this five-match series after slumping to 120 all out on the last day of the second Test at Lord’s – that they might collapse as well.
But the new opening pair of Burns and Hameed strengthened England’s grip with two unbeaten fifties.
“The way the two guys played towards the end of the day with the bat was outstanding and exactly what we’ve been asking for,” said Anderson.
“When you bowl someone out for less than 100 you’re never quite sure whether you’ve bowled well or if the wicket is not as good as you think it might be. So, to see the way they both went about their business, just felt so calm in the dressing room.”
Hameed’s 60 not out was all the more impressive after his return to Test cricket after a five-year when he managed scores of just nought and nine at Lord’s.
“I couldn’t be happier for ‘Has’,” said Anderson.
“One thing he’s always had is the right temperament for international cricket and we saw that today in bucket loads. He was calm, he was measured and he had a gameplan, which he executed brilliantly.”
India’s Rishabh Pant insisted his side’s collapse was just “part and parcel” of playing Test cricket.
But the wicketkeeper was more forthcoming about an incident in the raucous Western Terrace late in the day that appeared to anger Kohli.
“I think somebody threw a ball at Mohammed Siraj. He [Kohli] was upset, yes,” said Pant.
“You can say whatever you want to chant, but don’t throw things at the fielders. It’s not good for cricket, I guess.”
© Agence France-Presse