Joe Root’s century shadows Akash Deep’s 3-fer on debut on Day 1 of the Ranchi Test

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Akash Deep dominated English batters in the first session

England won the toss and opted to bat first forcing India to bat fourth on a pitch that was already cracking from Day 1 at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi.

While the hosts handed a debut cap to Akash Deep, the visitors rung in two changes, bringing in Ollie Robinson and Shoaib Bashir in place of Mark Wood and Rehan Ahmed as the latter returned to the United Kingdom and will be unavailable for the fifth test as well.

Mohammed Siraj bowled a brilliant maiden over to Zak Crawley to kick off the proceedings and Akash Deep also troubled the aggressive batter from the other end, castling and uprooting his off stump, albeit on a no ball.

Crawley took that like a wake-up call and punished Siraj by smashing three consecutive boundaries followed by a maximum. Ben Duckett survived a DRS call due to the on-field umpire’s call and smashed his first boundary off the very next ball bowled by Ravindra Jadeja.

The debutant fast bowler got his first Test wicket as he bowled in the corridor of uncertainty and Duckett went chasing which proved to be fatal as Dhruv Jurel completed the catch safely behind the stumps.

Ollie Pope was the next to bat and the next to be dismissed, that too on a silver duck as Akash Deep didn’t have to wait long for his second Test wicket with the English vice-captain trapped LBW which was proven by a correct DRS call from Indian skipper Rohit Sharma.

Almost like an action replay, Deep hit the top of the off stump, once again castling Crawley who was looking to the umpire in the hope of a no ball but Rod Tucker asked the opening batter to carry on walking back to the pavilion as the debutant continued to pick wickets on a pitch that was advertised perfect for spin bowling.

Despite the lack of form, Jonny Bairstow took the attack to Siraj and Jadeja forcing Rohit to introduce Ravichandran Ashwin into the attack. Ashwin couldn’t stop the middle-order as he smacked a huge maximum over the deep mid-wicket region helping the visitors reach the score of 100/3 by the end of the 20th over.

Bairstow smacked a boundary off the first ball of Ashwin’s second over to bring up the first half-century partnership of the match between him and Joe Root. The experienced spinner outdid Bairstow’s defense on the next ball cutting short his innings at a score of 38 runs off 35 balls. The 34-year old was trapped in front of the wicket and another successful DRS call taken by Rohit prompted English skipper Ben Stokes to come to the crease.

Before Lunch, a ball from Jadeja stayed low and hit Stokes who walked away without even waiting for the umpire’s decision leaving his side at a score of 112/5.

Ben Foakes joined Root in the middle at the start of the second session as Jadeja and Ashwin resumed the bowling duties but neither batter was in a hurry and steadily built a partnership. Struggling to break the partnership, Rohit finally handed the ball to Kuldeep Yadav for the first time in the match.

The duo brought up their half-century partnership in 120 balls, more than double the balls it took Bairstow and Root to reach the 50-run partnership. After Dhruv Jurel dropped Root on a score of 48 runs off Kuldeep’s bowling, the former English skipper brought up his half-century inside 108 balls showcasing grit and determination.

The spinners started to look more threatening as the Tea break approached but India wasted their last DRS call when Jadeja pushed skipper Rohit to take the review despite Jurel suggesting that the ball was going down leg which turned out to be true.

England took Tea at a score of 198/5 playing out the second wicket-less session of the series and first for the visitors.

Joe Root and Ben Foakes built a solid 113-run partnership that lasted for 261 balls

In the 67th over, Foakes decided to go after Ashwin and smashed a maximum followed by two consecutive boundaries, procuring a total of 16 runs from the over forcing Rohit to switch back to seam bowling.

From the other end, Siraj came in and reaped rewards straightaway as Foakes clipped the ball straight to Jadeja at short mid-wicket losing his wicket at a score of 47 runs off 126 balls.

Tom Hartley batted at No.8 for England for the first time in the absence of Rehan Ahmed and the left-arm bowler smacked a huge maximum over the wide long-on area before surviving the LBW call via the Decision Review System. 

Siraj soon took his second wicket as he went past Hartley’s blade and hit the top of the off stump ending his innings at a score of 13 runs off 26 balls. Robinson, playing his first match of the series, came out and batted responsibly allowing Root to bring up his century via a four and silence his critics.

In the process, Root scored the third-slowest century of his Test career and also became the batter with the most Test centuries against India overtaking Steven Smith who would be looking to equal or overtake Root later this year.

After Root had achieved the landmark, Robinson decided to free his arms and smashed a maximum over the mid-wicket region off Kuldeep’s bowling. Despite the new ball being available, the hosts decided to bowl with the older ball and got no rewards to show for it for the rest of the day as Root and Robinson also brought up the half-century partnership.

England wrapped up the day’s play at a score of 302/7 with Root unbeaten on the score of 106 runs off 226 balls while Robinson is also unbeaten at a score of 31 runs off 60 balls.