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Anderson’s double rocks India in delayed fifth Test

BIRMINGHAM (AFP) – James Anderson marked his return to England duty with two wickets to leave India 53-2 at lunch on the first day of the delayed fifth Test at Edgbaston yesterday.

Anderson missed the conclusion to England’s 3-0 rout of world Test champions New Zealand – their first series under the new leadership duo of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum – with an ankle problem.

But the 39-year-old, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, was soon back in the groove in Birmingham after Stokes won the toss on an overcast morning.

Shubman Gill had made 17 with 16 runs in boundaries when he fended a rare short and wide ball from paceman Anderson to Zak Crawley at second slip.

The same England combination then removed Cheteshwar Pujara, India’s other opener, for 13, after Crawley had dropped a more difficult chance off Matthew Potts to reprieve Hanuma Vihari, then on six.

India’s Virat Kohli leaves the field with England’s James Anderson and Jonny Bairstow. PHOTO: AP

Vihari was 14 not out and former India captain Virat Kohli one not out when rain led to an early lunch, with Anderson having taken 2-15 in eight overs.

Yesterday’s match should have been played in Manchester last September only to be postponed just hours before the scheduled start because of coronavirus concerns within the India camp.

England’s team contains just four survivors from the team – Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Jonny Bairstow and Anderson – that lost to India at the Oval last year to fall 2-1 behind in a five-match series.

India were without captain Rohit Sharma after the opener was ruled out with COVID-19.

Fellow opener KL Rahul, who in common with Rohit scored heavily in England last year, had already been sidelined with a groin problem.

Pujara had not played a Test in over a year prior to this match, with his last hundred at this level against Australia in January 2019 – 49 Test innings ago.

India are bidding for a first series win in England since 2007 and just their fourth in all after successes in 1971 and 1986.

By playing the game, albeit almost a year later in what has become the longest-running series in Test history, India are helping to fill what would otherwise be a GBP40 million (USD48 million) hole in English cricket’s finances.