India vs England, 4th Test, Day 1 | England’s batting comes unstuck against quality spin again

India's Rohit Sharma (L) and teammate Cheteshwar Pujara prepare to bump their fists as they walk back to the pavilion after the end of first day of the fourth Test cricket match between India and England at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera on March 4, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The nature of the pitch changed drastically from last week’s dust-bowl. The colour of the ball returned to conventional cherry red from experimental pink. The turnout was more modest than the 40,000-plus spectators who thronged Motera on the opening day of the third Test.

Despite the changing trends on all these counts, England’s lacklustre show against quality spin remained a constant. In spite of winning the toss in the series-concluding fourth Test, the touring side folded for 205 on the opening day. The spin trio of R. Ashwin, Axar Patel and Washington Sundar shared eight wickets to put India in a commanding position at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

James Anderson — the lone specialist pacer in England’s attack, with Stuart Broad making way for off-spinner Dom Bess and Jofra Archer unavailable due to a recurrence of his elbow injury —trapped Shubman Gill lbw for a blob in the opening over. He also bowled five maidens on the trot.

But Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara saw the day out without further damage, India ending on 24 for one. If the home batsmen ensure, on day two, that they don’t repeat the mistakes their counterparts made on Thursday, they will put their side in a strong position to seal a spot in the final of the World Test Championship.

England did not fare well against the spin onslaught. If Axar had struck with his first ball after being introduced into the attack last week, it took the lanky left-arm spinner two deliveries to make inroads this time around, after Virat Kohli threw the ball to him at the start of the sixth over. Dom Sibley yet again had no answers to a straight one that took the inside edge and crashed into the stumps.

In the next over, Axar beat Zak Crawley in flight, and it resulted in the opener’s attempt to clear mid-off settling in the hands of Mohammed Siraj.

Siraj, the seamer, then justified his inclusion over the seasoned Umesh Yadav by beating Joe Root with pace. At 30 for three, England was in danger of another collapse, but Ben Stokes played fluently with able support from Jonny Bairstow.

Just when the partnership seemed to have stabilised the innings, Siraj struck, soon after lunch, jagging one back into Bairstow to win another lbw decision. The spinners then took over, with Washington finding Stokes in no-man’s land in the last half hour of the second session.

Before committing the fatal error, Stokes not only raised his fifty but also played some delightful strokes. While the left-handed batsman welcomed Ashwin into the attack with a six over long-off, the whip after using his feet against his nemesis was one of the shots of the day.

At 144 for five at tea, despite England bolstering the batting with Dan Lawrence at No. 7, it was inevitable that India would bat on the opening day itself. Axar and Ashwin shared the remaining five wickets, as England crossed the 200-run mark before being dismissed about 75 minutes into the evening session.


ENGLAND — 1ST INNINGS: Zak Crawley c Siraj b Axar 9 (30b, 1x4), Dom Sibley b Axar 2 (8b), Jonny Bairstow lbw b Siraj 28 (67b, 6x4), Joe Root lbw b Siraj 5 (9b, 1x4), Ben Stokes lbw b Washington 55 (121b, 6x4, 2x6), Ollie Pope c Gill b Ashwin 29 (87b, 2x4), Dan Lawrence st. Pant b Axar 46 (74b, 8x4), Ben Foakes c Rahane b Ashwin 1 (12b), Dom Bess lbw b Axar 3 (16b), Jack Leach lbw b Ashwin 7 (17b, 1x4), James Anderson (not out) 10 (15b, 1x4); Extras (b-3, lb-5, nb-1, w-1): 10; Total (in 75.5 overs): 205.

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-10 (Sibley, 5.2 overs), 2-15 (Crawley, 7.5), 3-30 (Root, 12.1), 4-78 (Bairstow, 28.1), 5-121 (Stokes, 46.4), 6-166 (Pope, 61.3), 7-170 (Foakes, 65.4), 8-188 (Lawrence, 70.1), 9-189 (Bess, 70.4).

INDIA BOWLING: Ishant 9-2-23-0, Siraj 14-2-45-2, Axar 26-7-68-4, Ashwin 19.5-4-47-3, Washington 7-1-14-1.

INDIA — 1ST INNINGS: Shubman Gill lbw b Anderson 0 (3b), Rohit Sharma (batting) 8 (34b), Cheteshwar Pujara (batting) 15 (36b); Extras (nb-1) 1; Total (for one wkt. in 12 overs): 24.

FALL OF WICKET:1-0 (Gill, 0.3 overs).

ENGLAND BOWLINGAnderson 5-5-0-1, Stokes 2-1-4-0, Leach 4-0-16-0, Bess 1-0-4-0.

Toss: England.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 7:30:55 PM |

Next Story