Jimmy Anderson credited England’s two-year resurgence with the bat for sowing doubt in the minds of India, even if he was personally the catalyst that had his teammates dreaming of yet more history by stumps on day three of the second Test.
After a low-key Ashes series, Anderson has certainly delivered for Ben Stokes on this return, becoming the first seamer older than 41 to claim five wickets in a Test for 101 years. As has long been the case with Anderson, writing him off is a mug’s game.
The same probably goes for England overall, their time under Stokes and the head coach, Brendon McCullum, featuring five successful chases of more than 250, including the memorable 378 for three they knocked off against India at Edgbaston in 2022.
Speaking at the close, with England 67 for one chasing 399 after claiming the final six Indian wickets for just 44 runs, Anderson said: “I think the nerves were there to see today, the way they batted. I think they didn’t know how many was enough. I don’t know if intimidating is the right word, but [our approach] is putting different thoughts in oppositions’ minds.
“India were quite cautious, even when they had a big lead. The chat last night from the coach [McCullum] was that if they get 600, we were going to go for it.
“There’s been moments throughout the last two years, particularly in the last 12 months, that makes us think we’re doing something well because the way teams have reacted. Going back to the first ball of the Ashes having point on the boundary sends a message to us we’re doing something right.”
Anderson clearly was doing something right himself on the third morning, his quickfire removals of Rohit Sharma, bowled by a ball for the best-of album, and Yashasvi Jaiswal, edged to slip, setting the tone. He induced an injury concern for England during this sublime spell, however, Joe Root exacerbating a blow to his right little finger during the warm-ups when an edge dropped just short of him at first slip.
“His finger is not great,” Anderson said, after Root spent much of the day off the field having it iced. “I don’t think there’s [serious] concerns. It was a case of making sure he’s as good as he can be. There was no point risking it. There’s a chance we will need him with the bat.”
Asked about his own performance, five wickets across the two innings matching his entire return from the Ashes, Anderson replied: “As a player you want to contribute to the team and this summer I didn’t do that, so I felt disappointed from that point of view. What the time away did do, it gave me a chance to think about what I can improve on. It also gave me time to work on my fitness, knowing that coming to India, it’s a hard place as a seamer.
“I’m obviously delighted with the five wickets but I think I’m more pleased with the fact I got through 35 overs in three days. I felt strong doing it as well. All that work I was doing in the last few months has really paid off and that’s probably the most satisfying thing for me.”
As father of the house, Anderson was also proud to watch Rehan Ahmed and Tom Hartley share seven wickets on the day, plus Shoaib Bashir, on debut, claiming the key pelt of the centurion Shubman Gill. “They kept coming and coming and didn’t give up at any stage, even when Shubman was playing really well,” Anderson said. “The way they stuck at it, the calmness they showed was outstanding for young lads.”