Instant Replay: All the Test Cricket action from July

A quick roundup of the first leg of the Test season of 2016

Post the overdose and hangover of T20 cricket, which consumed the first half of 2016, the cricketing calendar has some fascinating events in store. The sport returns to its original style of play, with almost every team participating in a Test series over the next few months.

What’s better, is that most of these games will be happening concurrently, so if you just feel that the Windies’ batting is a bit too unattractive for your liking, you could shift to watching Cook play at his orthodox best — unless Mohammad Amir has already swung in a wild yorker on to middle.

If you’re a fan of watching out right domination, switch over to the Kiwis playing Zimbabwe. Elsewhere, a young Sri Lanka take on a settled Australia looking to better their record in the subcontinent.

Exciting season coming up? Go figure!

IND tour of WI

1st Test, Antigua: India have begun their long Test season in the most dominating fashion —winning the first test by an innings and 92 runs, making it their biggest margin of victory outside Asia.

Something solid about this team — aggressive coach, captain and mindset

Amidst the buzz surrounding the new partnership of Anil Kumble as Head Coach and Virat Kohli as the aggressor, the series began with the captain shouldering responsibility and setting the pace of the game with his first double hundred.

Kohli’s cover drives were determined pushes that kept getting better, and his fields were aggressive and constantly going for a win. Ashwin (113, 7/83), Shami (4/66), Saha (7 dismissals) put in patient performances to seal a comfortable overhaul.

Man of the Match: R Ashwin. How often does someone score a century and take 5 wickets in the same match?

IND 1st Inns.: 566–8 dec. (Kohli 200, K Brathwaite 3–65)

WI 1st Inns.: 243 all out (K Brathwaite 72, Yadav 4–41)

WI 2nd Inns. (f/o): 231 all out (C Brathwaite 51, Ashwin 7–83)

India won by an innings and 92 runs

T20 Champions = Test Minnows?
However, there was more to add to the West Indies’ Dual Nature across formats. It is not a surprise how the World T20 champions, with great all-round resources, often end up underperforming in the longer format. This further validates the fact that Cricket as a sport calls for dynamic skills and adjustment to all formats and the variable pace of the game.

Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine are all missing out from this series — personal preferences for T20, strict rules on domestic game time and mismanagement of talent being the obvious reasons.

NZ tour of ZIM

1st Test, Bulawayo: Another series result up for easy guessing: New Zealand v Zimbabwe, where Taylor, Wagner and Watling comfortably sped up to centuries and inflicted an expected innings defeat. Sean Williams offered some resistance, but didn’t get close to offering a contest.

Ross Taylor expresses his liking for big scores with a flick to the on side

ZIM 1st Inns.: 164 all out (Tiripano 49, Wagner 6–41)

NZ 1st Inns.: 576/6 dec. (Taylor 173, Masakadza 1–25)

ZIM 2nd Inns.: 295 all out (Williams 119, Boult 4–52)

New Zealand won by an innings and 117 runs

PAK tour of ENG

1st Test, London: The true challenge of Test Match Cricket was coming alive a continent away, where England and Pakistan were producing competitive games, and a series that grabbed eye balls for various reasons.

Look who’s back!

Mohammad Amir made a fairytale return to Lord’s, six years after he had overstepped, albeit with a left arm full of talent that got him back. Misbah Ul Haq’s Lieutenant-like defiance and control pushed England into another defeat at Lord’s, but not before Yasir Shah sprung up his way to a 10 wicket haul and the top of the ICC rankings.

Younus Khan orchestrates a salute and push-up tribute to the Pakistan Army

PAK 1st Inns.: 339 all out (Misbah 114, Woakes 6–70)

ENG 1st Inns.: 272 all out (Cook 81, Yasir 6–72)

PAK 2nd Inns.: 215 all out (Shafiq 49, Woakes 5–32)

ENG 2nd Inns.: 207 all out (Bairstow 48, Yasir 4–69)

Pakistan won by 75 runs

2nd Test, Manchester: Soon after, England’s return to Old Trafford and more familiar conditions took them back to winning ways with a much awaited Joe Root double ton, and positively for the team, Chris Woakes’ (7/108) merry-making of the wicket. None of the Pakistani batsmen got into triple figures, while Root alone amassed 325.

Could Root into any team’s bowling at the moment!

ENG 1st Inns.: 589–8 dec. (Root 254, Riaz 3–106)

PAK 1st Inns.: 198 all out (Misbah 52, Woakes 4–67)

ENG 2nd Inns.: 173/1 (Cook 76*, Amir 1–43)

PAK 2nd Inns.: 234 all out (Hafeez 42, Woakes 3–41)

England won by 330 runs

The next contest at Birmingham could might well be the most exciting of the series, as the template has been set with scores even at 1–1. Ben Stokes is out with injury for the rest of the summer, but the England pace attack has been reinforced with Anderson, Broad and Woakes, all running in in top form. Pakistan’s doubts over inconsistency, and their ability to draw test matches if necessary will need answers if the test series has to go for a decider at The Oval.

AUS tour of SL

1st Test, Pallekele: Even better, was a David vs Goliath in the subcontinent, where Sri Lanka grappled Australia into a nervy thriller. All the legends of the island nation have given way, to Angelo Mathews and a team that is new to the field and to the world of international cricket. And to be up against an Aussie pace attack (read Starc, Hazlewood and Co.) that has evolved to become the tormentors that they are known to be, was not going to be an easy task.

But such challenges produce the best of cricket, and help teams evolve. Sri Lanka stuck to their youth and fought a tough 2nd innings deficit, with one effort particularly standing out. Kusal Mendis justified his place in the middle order with an innings full of grit and led Sri Lanka to a victory from the toughest of situations. He scored 176, while the next highest score of the match was 55.

Kusal Mendis celebrates his century — Sri Lanka has much to cheer about this lad

SL 1st Inns.: 117 all out (de Silva 24, Lyon 3–12)

AUS 1st Inns.: 203 all out (Voges 47, Herath 4–49)

SL 2nd Inns.: 353 all out (Mendis 176, Starc 4–84)

AUS 2nd Inns.: 161 all out (Smith 55, Herath 5–54)

Sri Lanka won by 106 runs

Sure, the pace of T20, the cheerleaders and the noisy crowds are all missing, but if you’re a cricket purist, what better joy than watching the contest in whites?

More reports to follow with more cricket in store. Don’t forget to follow The Match Day for everything good about the world of cricket. Feel free to contribute.

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