India’s spin trio chokes England batters on Day 1 of 1st Test

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Indian players celebrate after taking a wicket on Day 1 of the Hyderabad Test

The highly anticipated England tour of India kicked off at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Thursday as Ben Stokes won the toss and elected that England would bat first on a wicket that looked the most dangerous for the team batting in the fourth innings in the match.

Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett came out to bat against Rohit Sharma‘s India side and Crawley scored consecutive boundaries off the first two balls of the second over to announce the visitors’ intent. The opening partnership amounted to 55 runs as Ravichandran Ashwin trapped Duckett LBW after the southpaw had contributed 35 runs off 38 balls.

Ollie Pople soon gave away his wicket to Ravindra Jadeja as the left-arm orthodox spinner got the No.3 batter to edge it to skipper Rohit in the slip cordon on a score of 1 run. Ashwin then forced Crawley to get on the front foot and drive the ball as Mohammed Siraj completed a brilliant catch to get England 60/3 after the 55-run partnership for the first wicket.

Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow rebuilt the English innings with the experienced Root taking the anchor role while Bairstow decided to attack from the other end. England was able to close out the first session at 108 at the loss of three wickets and added another 13 runs to the fourth-wicket partnership before Axar Patel bamboozled Bairstow with the delivery of the day, cleaning up the stumps.

As in the first session, the wickets once again fell in a heap after a big partnership as Root gave his wicket to Jadeja followed by the wicket of Ben Foakes who was caught behind off Axar’s bowling.

While skipper Stokes was trying to hold one end, Rehan Ahmed scored 13 runs off 18 balls before Jasprit Bumrah’s slower delivery testing the teenager’s skills as he was caught behind owing to brilliant glove-work from wicket-keeper Srikar Bharat.

After more than 320 balls were bowled, Tom Hartley smacked the first six of the day as the debutant brought out the slog-sweep against Ashwin’s bowling. Stokes also started to open his arms and play the reverse hits, smacking Jadeja multiple times to the fence. The debutant’s day was cut short by Jadeja as Hartley was clean-bowled after making 23 runs off 24 balls.

Ben Stokes played a masterclass innings on Day 1 of the Hyderabad Test

Stokes brought about his half-century within 69 balls with a maximum off Jadeja helping his side cross the 225-run mark as well. While Stokes was attacking from one end, Mark Wood was forced to play against his instincts and after an unsuccessful LBW review on the second ball of the 62nd over, the fast-bowler was clean bowled on the very next ball by Ashwin.

Bumrah meant business in the 65th over as he produced an outside edge from the bat of Stokes on the first ball which ran away to the fence followed by a ripper on the third delivery of the over which clean bowled the English skipper ending the visitors’ innings on a respectable total of 246 runs.

Stokes finished as the highest scorer of the English innings with 70 runs off 88 deliveries smacking 6 boundaries and 3 maximums. 

While Ashwin and Jadeja finished with 3 wickets each, Bumrah and Axar had 2 wickets each in their bag. Some fans would argue that Axar was once again underbowled as he only got to bowl 13 overs despite having the best economy rate in the Indian bowling attack.

As Hartley and Wood opened the bowling for Brendon Mccullum’s side, Yashasvi Jaiswal got off to a blistering start helping India post 35 runs within the first four overs forcing Stokes to revert to his most experienced spinner Jack Leach.

Jaiswal raced to his half-century inside 47 balls at a strike-rate of 108.5 as Hartley was continuously taken apart on his debut with the spinner struggling to stem the flow of runs from his end. Trying to accelerate from the other end, skipper Rohit Sharma lost his wicket to Leach as Stokes completed a good catch to bring Shubman Gill on the pitch.

Gill batted with caution as he entered double digits with a boundary off the first ball of the last over while Jaiswal kept rotating the strike to help India close the day at 119/1 as the opening batter remained unbeaten at a score of 75 runs with 9 boundaries and 3 maximums.