Whatever you can do… Indian star’s BRUTAL blitz stuns England, but Kohli’s concern mounts

Rishabh Pant gave Ben Stokes’ England a taste of their own medicine with an outstanding counter-attack century as India recovered from a first-class collapse to 338-7 at stumps on Friday the opening day of the Covid-delayed fifth test.

Remembered England great James Anderson and young fast Matthew Potts reduced India to 98-5 in Edgbaston after Stokes won the toss under a cloudy sky.

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Pant responded with a brilliant 146 from just 111 balls.

The wicketkeeper hit 19 fours and four sixes while dominating a partnership of 222 with fellow lefthander Ravindra Jadeja, 83 not out on punches.

England entered the game after a 3-0 whitewash by Test world champions New Zealand, who got themselves out of trouble several times in their first run under captain Stokes and red ball coach Brendon McCullum.

Indian batsman Rishabh Pant stunned England with an epic century.Source: Getty Images

The aggressive approach has been dubbed “Bazball” in honor of McCullum’s nickname, but 24-year-old Pant has played this way for pretty much his entire career.

“In English conditions, especially when you know a bowler is throwing in the same spot, it’s important to disturb him,” Pant told reporters. “As a player, I give myself 100 percent. Yes, I may play some different shots sometimes, but I try to play my percentage (strokes). – ‘Under pressure’ – England assistant coach Paul Collingwood paid tribute to Pant by saying “He’s certainly entertaining, don’t back down and he’ll pressure you.” But after seeing England hit three hard goals against New Zealand, he added: “The lads are confident they can chasing, no matter what in the fourth innings.” Pant was particularly tough on Jack Leach, swinging himself to his feet as he plodded a four and later controlled the left arm with one hand for six.

Leach, fresh from a throw of 10 wicket and the player award in the third Test against New Zealand, allowed expensive 71 runs in nine wicketless overs.

Part-time off-spinner Joe Root succeeded where frontline bowlers had failed when Pant slipped a ride to Zak Crawley at slip.

Pants in full flight/Source: Getty Images

It was the end of a double-century partnership that lasted just 39 overs, with Pant’s hundred his fifth in 31 Tests and third against England.

Pott, who only made his international debut against New Zealand, had previously contributed to his growing reputation by removing Virat Kohli for 11.

The 23-year-old had fired Black Caps captain Kane Williamson three times in four innings. On Friday, after a 90-minute rain delay, the paceman took two wickets for five runs in seven balls to reduce India to 71-4.

Potts had Hanuma Vihari plumb lbw for 20 before persuading Kohli to continue playing. It’s been nearly three years since India’s star batsman made the last of his 27 Test hundreds.

Matthew Potts of England celebrates taking the wicket of Virat Kohli.Source: Getty Images

Friday’s game was supposed to be played in Manchester last September, but was postponed just hours before its scheduled start due to coronavirus concerns at the camp in India.

India, leading 2-1 in the five-game match, was left without captain Rohit Sharma on Friday after being banned due to Covid-19. Fellow opener KL Rahul, who scored big in England last year with Rohit, had already been sidelined with a groin problem.

Both teams have experienced major upheaval since they last met, with Chris Silverwood and Root being replaced as England coaches and Test captains respectively.

Kohli stepped down as India captain in February, with pace-setter Jasprit Bumrah in charge at Edgbaston for the first time, while Rahul Dravid succeeded the retiring Ravi Shastri as coach in November.

By playing the game, albeit nearly a year later than planned, India is helping to fill an estimated £40 million ($48 million) hole in English cricket’s finances.

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