At the toss, India captain Virat Kohli said he doesn’t mind bowling first as well. This was after England captain Alastair Cook won the toss and elected to bat. Calling it a “traditional Indian pitch”, Cook said it is important to bat well in the first innings. Both were right, almost. Cook’s decision could have backfired in the first over itself. And then later in the fourth. And once again in sixth. Three drop catches in first six overs for India.
Cook and his opening partner, 19-year-old debutant Haseeb Hameed steadied the nerves and took England past the 50-run mark. Both played some exceptional shots through the covers but it was Hameed’s play that impressed all. Playing with the turn and against it off R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. He left was deserved to be left. But then drinks and everything changed.
First ball after the break, Jadeja got Cook LBW. Cook didn’t review it after consulting Hameed. It hit him in the leg-stump was would have missed the leg-stump, the tracker confirmed it. England lost their first wicket. Hameed went into a shell after that.
Ashwin once again showed why he is the best bowler in the world. He bowled a ball from around the wicket that held its line and went right across right-handed Hameed. Next ball straightened into Hameed. Ashwin dismissed Hameed on the third.
Playing for the turn, Hameed got a straighter one which missed his outside edge and hit him on the pads. Umpire Kumar Dhramasena gave it out. Hameed reviewed it. All red and decision was upheld. The youngster actually went into a shell after Cook’s dismissal as he didn’t score of the last 25 balls before he was undone by Ashwin.
And the third wicket of Ben Duckett made it India’s session. Ashwin had him caught at slips. England went to Lunch at 102/3.
Kohli could not complain as India recovered from those three drop catches. Cook could not complain as England could have been in a worse position had those been taken.