After a fine start to the first day of their 1,000th Test, England slipped up and allowed India to end day one with honours even.
On what should have been a day for unfettered celebration, England faltered throughout the day, despite playing some excellent Test cricket. The early loss of Alastair Cook (13) was followed by a 72-run partnership between Keaton Jennings (42) and Joe Root (80).
Indian openers Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma were excellent early on, giving Cook, Jennings and Root a torrid time by bowling a really good line and getting substantial movement that challenged all the England batsmen. It was certainly engaging Test cricket from two of the great cricketing nations.
After the loss of Dawid Malan for eight, Root combined with Jonny Bairstow in a 104-run partnership in just 23 overs before Indian captain Virat Kohli ran his counterpart out with a direct hit. Bairstow fell for 70 off 88 balls shortly after, bowled by Yadav, and he was followed by Jos Buttler for a two-ball duck.
Ben Stokes was caught and bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin for 21 and two further wickets fell to leave England on a palatable 285-9 at the close of play, with Sam Curran 24 not out off a sedate 67 balls and Jimmy Anderson yet to get off the mark. England played good cricket for much of the day, but a spate of momentary lapses saw them crumble from 216-3 to 283-9.
Hardik Pandya took a bit of stick to concede 46 runs off his 10 overs, but the rest of the bowlers were all good value. Yadav and Sharma bowled with great control to keep the openers in check, picking up a wicket apiece, and Mohammed Shami picked up the top-order wickets of Malan and Jennings. The star turn was Ashwin, who picked up four wickets for 60 runs (Cook, Stokes, Buttler and Stuart Broad) at an economy rate of 2.40.
England have an interesting and challenging bowling attack that lies in wait in the form of the powerful Indian batting lineup, but my sense is that the Indian team might make considerable strides in their first innings. That will, of course, depend on the openers’ ability to see off the new ball onslaught that Anderson and Broad are likely to unleash on them.
It certainly promises to be an enthralling Test match and an appropriate cricketing celebration for England’s 1,000th match.
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