Luck first favoured Keaton Jennings and then deserted him during England’s first innings at Edgbaston against India.
Playing just his eighth Test, and second since coming back after a layoff for England’s second game against Pakistan in June, Jennings was dropped by Ajinkya Rahane in the slips when on 10. He went on to reach 42 before he defended Mohammed Shami’s incoming delivery but saw the ball roll on to his stumps off the pads and dislodge a bail.
Jennings stood looking disconsolate for a while before trudging off, and blamed himself for his dismissal afterwards: “I suppose the best players in the world make those lucky breaks or have them go in their favour. That’s the way it is. I’ve made an error, misjudged the ball, and it’s ended up in my stumps.”
Jennings had put together 72 runs with Joe Root after Alastair Cook had been dismissed cheaply, but Root (80) and Jonny Bairstow (70) took England to 216/3 before India hit back with a series of wickets to leave England at 285/9 by close of play.
Did they give the advantage to India? “Yes and no. That has been a little bit of a missed opportunity for us. You look at 35 overs of cricket, off the old ball, there still seems to be a bit of lateral movement,” said Jennings.
“I suppose from our point of view we’ve got 300 on the board and if we can come out and be pretty relentless in the way we go about hitting our areas at some point tomorrow, you don’t actually know what a good score it is. On one hand, it is a missed opportunity, but on the other you don’t know what a good score is until both sides have batted.”
One of the talking points of the day was Virat Kohli’s animated celebration after pulling off a brilliant chase-slide-gather-and-throw run out of Root, which triggered the England downturn on the day.
The India captain ended with an approximation of Root’s bat-drop celebration from the third one-day international against India at Headingley last month, leading to excitement on social media. Jennings, though, saw nothing wrong.
“Everybody is entitled to celebrate how they want to,” said the 26-year-old opening batsman. “He celebrated, and that’s cool.”
Ravichandran Ashwin was the bowler when Root was run out, and the off-spinner went on to take 4/60 with his mixed bag of tricks.
“He’s a very good bowler. He lands the ball in the right place and varies his pace. He bowled nicely today,” said Jennings of Ashwin.
“At the end of the day, we come up with a game plan in order to play off-spinners as a left-hander. Bowled a good ball to Cooky this morning, maybe that came down to a bit of tackiness in the surface. I’ve played him a couple of times, played against him at Worcester last year, so it’s not the first time I’ve played against him and hopefully I get many more opportunities to.”