India’s Jasprit Bumrah took four wickets as England suffered their latest batting collapse in slumping to 183 all out on the opening day of the first Test at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.
Bumrah, who struck with the fifth ball of the match to remove Rory Burns for one of four ducks in the innings, took 4-46 in 20.4 overs, with fellow paceman Mohammed Shami also impressive with 3-28 in 17 overs.
England captain Joe Root, who won the toss, top-scored with 64 and was the only batsman to pass 30, with Jonny Bairstow making 29 on his Test return.
Bairstow’s exit on the stroke of tea sparked a slump where England, who had been 138-3, lost six wickets for 22 runs against an attack without Ishant Sharma and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, both dropped after India’s loss to New Zealand in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton in June.
India then denied England a breakthrough to be 21-0 at stumps, with both Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul – only drafted in after Mayank Agwaral suffered a suspected concussion while batting in the nets on Monday – nine not out.
Shardul Thakur, who took the prize wicket of Root, in a return of 2-41, told Sky Sports: “[Bairstow] was going well. He was poised to score a fifty, so getting him and Joe Root out was crucial.”
He added: “[Root] is one of the top players in the world. Whether you get him out in the 60s or you get him out early in the innings, it is always a good wicket to have.”
Remarkably, this was a first red-ball innings this season for both Bairstow and Jos Buttler, out for nought, with both batsmen not helped by the fixture schedule.
“There’s a lot of white-ball cricket in the middle of summer, that’s always a challenge,” said England batting coach Marcus Trescothick. “We’d like a bit more red-ball cricket.”
In June, England suffered a humiliating eight-wicket loss to New Zealand at Edgbaston that condemned them to a first home series loss in seven years, prompting former captain Alastair Cook to say the current top order “can’t handle” the pressure of Test cricket.
Many of the same batsmen struggled again on Wednesday.
Ben Stokes, who missed the New Zealand series with a finger injury, delivered a blow to England’s hopes ahead of this five-match series when it was announced Friday the star all-rounder was taking an indefinite break from cricket to “prioritise his mental health”.
But his absence was not the reason for England’s top-order woes.
Root’s decision to bat first after winning the toss on a green-tinged pitch that promised to aid India’s four-man pace attack was a bold decision given England’s well-known batting frailties.
It took India just five balls to reduce England to none for one, with left-hander Burns lbw on review to a Bumrah delivery that cut back.
New batsman Zak Crawley came to the crease having made just 123 runs in 12 Test innings since a brilliant 267 against Pakistan at Southampton last year.
Crawley had made 27 when he was caught behind after what seemed a speculative review by the tourists revealed a thin nick off Mohammed Siraj – much to the relief of India captain Virat Kohli.
Opening batsman Dom Sibley, whose 18 took 70 balls, fell tamely when he chipped Shami straight to Rahul at short midwicket.
Root and Bairstow, however, kept India at bay. But a fourth-wicket stand of 72 ended off what became the last ball before tea when Bairstow was lbw to Shami.
England’s 138-4 at the interval soon became 138-5 when Dan Lawrence was caught behind down the legside off Shami for nought before Buttler, who looked desperately out of touch, nicked Bumrah to Pant for a 17-ball duck.
By reaching 23, Root surpassed Cook’s England record of 15,737 runs in all formats.
His fifty took 89 balls but on 64 he was lbw, aiming across the line, to Thakur with Root not bothering to review.
England’s tail, Sam Curran’s 27 not out apart, unsurprisingly struggled.
© Agence France-Presse