Kohli and Root left frustrated by the rain as 'blockbuster' series starts with a draw

By Sports Desk August 08, 2021

India captain Virat Kohli and England counterpart Joe Root both agreed rain had ruined the prospect of a fascinating final day in the first Test.

No play was possible on Sunday in Nottingham due to bad weather, with India having been due to resume their second innings on 52-1 in pursuit of a target of 209.

Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara had helped the tourists come through a tricky 14-over spell late on day four, the only setback for India being the departure of KL Rahul for 26.

Despite the disappointment on not being able to capitalise on the opportunity to push for victory, Kohli was pleased with the way his team had performed at the start of the five-match series.

"We were expecting rain on days three and four, then it chooses to arrive on day five," Kohli lamented in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.

"We thought we were in a good position to have a crack at the target. It would have been a really nice, interesting day of Test cricket, one that would have been enjoyable to watch and certainly enjoyable to be a part of, so it's a shame.

"This is exactly what we wanted to do – we wanted to start strong. Heading into day five, we felt like we had our chances in front of us.

"One good partnership and you know what happens when there's only 150-odd to defend.

"It certainly felt like we were on top in the game, we bowled well enough and batted well enough to stay in the contest, then getting that lead was crucial."

Root had made sure India did not have a straightforward task batting last, his 21st Test century giving England's bowlers something to work with. He had faith in his attack to create opportunities, too, only for persistent downpours to put paid to the home side's hopes.

"It was a great Test match. I think the weather has robbed us of what could have been a very exciting final day," Root told Sky Sports.

"It bodes well for the rest of the series. Hopefully we can take some of the good stuff out of this week into the rest of it.

"Having spent a lot of time on that wicket, it felt like there were going to be nine opportunities within play. It was just making sure we were smart to get the game to go long enough.

"It felt like there was going to be that opportunity there, it's just a shame the weather won today."

Root pipped Jasprit Bumrah to the player of the match award, the latter having taken nine wickets in the contest as India's decision to pick just the one spinner worked out.

Kohli revealed that it is likely they will continue with the same policy in the remainder of the trip, starting with the second Test at Lord's.

"Most likely it will be the template for the rest of the series, but adaptability has been a strength of ours, especially when we've played away from home," he said.

"We need to adapt quickly, according to what is in front of us. Pitches, conditions, pace of the wicket and so on, but this looks like the right template moving forward.

"It’s going to be an exciting series to watch and be part of – England-India is always a blockbuster. Expect a lot of exciting cricket ahead."

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    Over the last couple years, however, Hope has rubbished those sentiments thanks to some destructive batting performances in the CPL as well as in leagues around the world.

    His evolution as a T20 batsman was none more evident than during the West Indies’ game against the USA at the ICC T20 World Cup on Friday in his home country of Barbados.

    Looking to bounce back from a loss to England in their first game of the Super 8 on Wednesday, the joint hosts dismissed their American counterparts for 128 after losing the toss at the Kensington Oval.

    The West Indians then needed only 10.5 overs to reach 130-1, with Hope finishing 82* off just 39 balls. In a brilliant display of power hitting, Hope hit eight sixes and four fours on the way to his highest score in T20 Internationals.

    “Clinical,” was how Hope described the team’s performance on Friday in a post-match press conference.

    “Especially coming off the loss that we had a couple days ago. It's great to see the guys understood the assignment today and we played the cricket that we wanted to play. It's important for us to continue in this vein because we see what's at stake now. But yeah, very happy with the bounce back that we did today and there's a lot more cricket to play and we're looking forward to it,” he added.

    On his own individual performance, Hope was happy to perform in front of his home crowd.

    “Yeah, it was an amazing crowd. It's nice to see everyone came out and support us today. Something that we get in the Caribbean when we're doing well, we tend to see a lot more supporters out there. So that means we must be doing something right if you've got a solo crowd. But yeah, the crowd was rocking today,” he said.

    “I thought that the support was amazing. Again, I'm from Barbados so playing in front of this lovely crowd meant a lot more to me. Scoring some runs and winning the game for the team felt even more special so I'm very happy to do that,” Hope added.

    At the start of the tournament, Hope was on the outside of the XI looking in. He missed the first three games before coming into the side ahead of Roston Chase in the third game against Afghanistan where he 25 batting at number four.

    The 30-year-old was then left out once again for the Super 8 opener against England. A side strain suffered by Brandon King during that game meant Hope was given an opportunity at the top of the order against the USA, an opportunity that he grabbed with both hands.

    “Yeah, it's a great feeling. Again, whatever the team requires, that's me. Unfortunately, King had to leave us. Hopefully, he recovers quickly. But yeah, I had to go at the top this time around and the aim was just to get off to a good start. You see the importance of finishing the game early as well. So yeah, I had a good time in the middle, good surface and I enjoyed batting tonight,” he said.

    “Just have to stay ready in a tournament like this. There's a reason why we have 15 players. All of them need to be ready whenever the time comes,” he added.

    Finally, Hope issued a plea to the fans of the West Indies to continue supporting them on their journey to a third ICC T20 World Cup title.

    “Keep rallying. That's our motto. We always talk about rallying around the West Indies. That's exactly what we need to keep doing. The team rallying around each other. The fans need to do the same. We're out there fighting for each and every one of us. So, you understand the importance and the magnitude of the tournament. We're playing a home World Cup, something that I'm sure a lot of cricketers over their careers may not get the opportunity to do. We understand the importance of this in particular and we know how much the fans really want us to win so we're fighting, we're doing it for them and it's great to see the support I hope that it continues for the rest of the tournament,” he said.

    The West Indies will take on South Africa in their last Super 8 match on Sunday in Antigua.

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    Having lost their opening Super 8s match to England, the Windies bounced back in style in Barbados on Friday.

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    Hope was recalled to the team after an injury to Brandon King, but will be a tough drop for Rovman Powell now.

    The USA had made a promising start, but slipped from 51-1 to 65-4 in the space of three overs, with Andre Russell the pick of the Windies' bowlers (3-31).

    They were skittled out for 128, with Hope, Johnson Charles (15) and Nicholas Pooran (27 not out) wasting little time in securing a margin of victory that sends West Indies above England in Group 2, while their net run rate is also superior to South Africa's.

    The Proteas are West Indies' final opponents, while defending champions England face the USA in their last Super 8s match.

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    Their tally of victories this year matches 2021 as their best effort in a single calendar year.

    They have also won five of their last seven T20Is at Kensington Oval, and their last three in a row.

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    West Indies all-rounder Roston Chase believes it is his country's destiny to win the T20 World Cup following their nine-wicket victory over fellow co-hosts the United States.

    The 32-year-old took 3-19 as the USA were bowled out for 128, with Shai Hope hitting an unbeaten 82 from 39 balls as the Windies leapfrogged England in the race for the semi-finals. 

    "It is our destiny and our goal to win this World Cup," Chase said after the victory. "We want teams to know they have to beat us to win this World Cup."

    Rovman Powell's side equalled the record for the West Indies' most wins in a single calendar year (W9 in 2021) in T20Is, and face South Africa in Antigua next Monday. 

    The triumph continued their impressive T20 record at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, and they have now won five of their previous seven T20Is at the venue. 

    The last and only previous time they won more consecutive games in Barbados was a four-game streak from May 2010 to March 2014, which has got the West Indies believing they can claim a third title. 

    "It's very special," captain Powell said. "Kensington brings special memories for us. We had no better opportunity to come out and play some good cricket."

    The USA still holds on to the hopes of qualifying for the competition's semi-finals but knows their hopes of progression lie elsewhere. 

    Having lost their opening Super 8 fixture to South Africa, they will be hoping the Proteas can do them a favour in defeating the West Indies but would need a comprehensive victory of their own against current champions England. 

    "We lost wickets in clusters," captain Aaron Jones said. "I don't think we ever truly recovered from that. It was bad in the middle.

    "We'll go back to the drawing board and come back hard against England on Sunday."

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