Comeback man Sam Curran digs England out of trouble
Sam Curran played a counter-attacking innings of 78 (Getty images)

When England announced their Playing XI for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge, one notable exclusion that caught everyone’s attention was that of Sam Curran. The left-arm fast bowler left out to accommodate a returning Ben Stokes, whereas the other allrounder Chris Woakes, retained his place on the back of a solid all-round performance, including a century, at Lord’s.

Curran’s absence was massively felt as England went on to lose the third Test by 203 runs. The 20-year-old was instrumental in Indian batting’s collapse in the first Two Tests, and without him, the Indian batting order found its lost mojo with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane getting runs under their belt.

Hence, a week later, Curran was drafted back into the side – this time for Woakes, who couldn’t repeat his Lord’s heroics at Trent Bridge – and straightaway left an impact. Coming in at 86/6, Curran played a counter-attacking innings of 78 that saved England the blushes and got them a reasonable total of 246.

“I was disappointed (at being dropped in Nottingham), but at the same time took it as a positive. You can’t really leave someone out who’s got a hundred (Woakes at Lord’s). It’s just a great squad at the minute, and everyone is fighting for their places,” Curran told reporters at the end of Day 1.

Not part of the Trent Bridge Test, Curran was plying his trade for Surrey against Lancashire in a first-class game, where he picked up a wicket and scored 40 and 31. The spike in Curran’s batting was evident again on Thursday, where he went after the bowling to trigger a recovery for England. As the ball stopped swinging post lunch, the left-hander went after anything that was outside his off stump.

“It’s international sport you try to do the best you can for your side. I wasn’t proving a point at all. I just tried to play like I did for Surrey last week – with no fear, nice and positive and try not to overthink it. Luckily enough, it came off,” he said.

“I’m not going to change the way I play it’s just who I am. I was unlucky obviously last week to miss out. But I love being around the squad. There are some great names in the team, and I’m learning so much.”

That England got to 246 was majorly because Curran scoring 48 percent of the 160 runs that England’s last four wickets added before he was last out, bowled by R Ashwin when attempting a big heave. Surprisingly, on a surface that was termed ideal for batting, the new ball was doing plenty in the first session, and it caught the England batsmen off guard. The ball was swinging on and off the pitch vehemently in the first session and the Indian fast bowling trio of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami made merry. Yet again, England’s top order failed to deliver and it was left to their lower-middle order to give the bowlers something to work on.

“There were some very good balls in there, to a lot of the top order… they got some very good ones,” said Curran. “But we worry [only] about the end result. We managed to get 246, which from 86 for 6 looks a decent score now, with how much the wicket has done and how much it has swung.

“It was pretty tough. It swung massively throughout the day, I found. Even when I was in, probably in my 30s, it was still swinging around consistently when the ball was 65 overs old. That surprised us a little bit – how much it swung, and how much it did off the wicket.”