England v India: first Test, day one – live! | Sport


The world is a dark place, so when light comes our way, it is our duty as human beings to embrace it with every sinew and synapse that we can muster. Already this summer, sport has elevated us with divine lovingkindness, but there is nothing to compare with a major Test series; no more exacting examination, no more comforting rhythm, no more affirming intensity.

England v India will give us all of that and more than that, a panoply of other things we can’t conceive of until they’ve happened and even then. Of course, like everything else in life, sport can and does disappoint. But the starting position here is such that we can be certain something will happen.

The hosts have a reputation to shatter: for the last few years they’ve been better at losing than winning, and in a particular manner. Unlike in previous generations, there has not been an overriding sense of hilarious ineptitude and demeaning powerlessness; rather, frittered talent and frantic minds. But in the end, too much of that leaves us with only one conclusion: not bloody good enough.

W have now reached that juncture … and yet England remain a fascinating side. Their batsmen are enterprising and tough, except for when they aren’t, and their bowlers are clever and capable, except for when they aren’t. If they can pull this off it could be the start of something; if they can’t it might be the end of various things.

India, meanwhile, are already the best side in the world. But in a fallow period for greatness they need something special to enshrine their status as a team for the ages; they need to win here, and they have a fantastic chance so to do. Aside from fragile opposition, they have had plenty of time to acclimatise and conditions will never be more to their liking. More than anything, though, in Virat Kohli they have a totemic giant of world sport, a genius and a guru, whose relentless positivity is a philosophy, an inspiration and a way of life. And this summer we are getting not just Kohli, but Kohli with a point to prove; stand well back.

So, Test cricket, here we are and here we go: immerse us in your splendour, please.

Play: 11.00 BST



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