Both India and England will look back at the first day’s play of the fourth Test and rue the chances they failed to take advantage of. India will be happy to have picked up five England wickets on day one while the visitors will be happy to have scored a close to 300 runs before stumps. But both teams could have done more.
After winning the toss, Alastair Cook had no hesitation in deciding to bat first. He had the advantage of batting first on a pitch that was expected to take turn from the first day itself. And they did begin well with the bat.
England handed a debut to 24-year-old Keatson Jennings and replaced Gareth Batty with seamer Jake Ball. India on the other hand, recalled Bhuvneshwar Kumar in place of Mohammed Shami and included KL Rahul for injured Ajinkya Rahane.
Cook and debutant Keatson Jennings shared a 99-run opening partnership and laid the perfect platform for their team to score some crucial runs. But just before Lunch, Cook tried to break the shackles. He charged down the pitch to Ravindra Jadeja, who got one to come back into the left-hander that went between the bat and pad. Cook had missed it. Parthiv Patel collected it and removed the bails.
India thought they have the opening and can run through the batting line-up now. But just then, Lunch came. The session break gave England the chance to recover from the fall of wicket. Joe Root then joined Jennings to stabilise the innings.
Kohli was trying had to get a breakthrough. Ashwin was in his third over of his second spell. He pitched the ball up to Root and he lunged forward to drive. Then held his bat. The ball took the outside edge and went to slips. Kohli was moving to the left direction and catch was to the right. He put his both hands out and the ball stuck in his wrists. That was the only success India tasted for next two-and-a-half hours.
Moeen Ali and Jennings shared a 94-run stand for the third wicket to keep India frustrated until the man with the golden arm turned it around in the final session.
Just before Tea, Jennings completed his maiden Test century on debut off just 186 balls. He reached his hundred with a reverse-sweep off Jayant Yadav. After Tea, Ali reached his half-century, his ninth in Test cricket.
But that was the beginning of the collapse. The ball was turning and bouncing and Ashwin was into the attack. Ali tried to sweep the off-spinner but managed only a top edge. A ball later, Jennings defended with a bottom hand and the edge carried to gully. Two set batsmen gone for England in the space of three balls.
Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes added 19-run before Ashwin struck again. The former swept one from Ashwin straight to deep square-leg. England had lost their fifth. India were mounting the pressure. Jos Buttler was the new man in and Ben Stokes was being troubelled by Jadeja. But they somehow survived.
India didn’t take the new ball on the first day but will look to do whatever it takes to wrap this England as quickly as possible. The will be spitting cobras by the third day and India don’t want top bat in the fourth innings.