England wrest advantage on Day 1: After a disastrous tour of Bangladesh, Alistair Cook and his men landed in India for a series consisting of 5 Test Matches, 3 ODIs and 3 T0Is.
The first of the five-Test series got underway at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot.
Winning the toss, England opted to bat first. Cook said at the toss, “A traditional Indian wicket. First innings will be crucial. We”re pretty inexperienced, but that”s what can be exciting about our side.”
Team India skipper, Virat Kohli, who lost the toss for the first time at home, said, “Not a bad thing (at toss loss). Looking forward to getting a few gains in the first session. We”ve been playing good cricket. England have done well in India, we don”t take any side for granted.”
However, the visitors could not get a good start, losing both the openers, skipper Alistair Cook (21) and the 19-year old debutant, Haseeb Hameed (31) early on in the innings.
After being together for 15.0 overs and putting up 47 runs on the board, Cook got out to a very controversial ‘leg before wicket’ decision.
In the sixteenth over, the left arm spinner, Ravindra Jadeja bowled one flat that turned in to beat the batsman’s flick. Cook shuffled across to the ball that pitched on the stumps and hit him in front of the leg and middle. The appeal was upheld by Umpire Chris Gaffaney and Cook, after discussing with his partner, the debutant Hameed, walked back to the pavilion, choosing not to refer.
However, TV replays clearly showed that the ball would have missed the leg stump by a mile.
Earlier, in the very third ball of the innings, bowled by Mohammad Shami, Cook was dropped by ‘an always agile’ and a dependable fielder, Ajinkya Rahane. The batsman played an uncharacteristic shot, with moving his feet and with an open bat. The ball flew to gully and Rahane who got his hands to the ball, failed to hold on. Cook had not opened his account then.
In the very next over bowled by Umesh Yadav, the batsman jabbed a good length delivery that slanted across, again with no foot movement and the ball flew to the second slip. Kohli tried to pick up the catch but faltered and floored. Cook got a second ‘life’.
Ten overs after Cook departed, the young Hameed, who played with a good level of confidence and not being overawed by the situation, was ‘foxed’ by the guile of the world’s best Test bowler, Ravichandran Ashwin.
Hameed, who tried to move away his right pad from the line of the ball, was struck on the left pad, which otherwise would have gone on to knock out his off-stump.
The batsman who had displayed a great technique all along, wad exposed a bit and had to pay for it. England opted for a review but the decision went against them and the youngster had to walk back to the pavilion, having notched up 31 runs with the help of 6 hits to the fence.
Joe Root and Moeen Ali joined together to put a wonderful partnership for the fourth wicket.
Coming together with the team score at 102 runs for the loss of 3 wickets, the duo stayed put together and added a very valuable 179 runs for the fourth wicket.
The pair was successful in negotiating the Indian bowling attack, be it spin or pace, with alacrity. Umesh, Shami, Ashwin, Jadeja and Mishra failed to put a break on the duo.
In the process, Joe Root registered his 11th Test century in his 89th innings, which came in 154 balls with the help of 9 fours. This was also his first century in Asia.
When everything seemed to be going England’s way, in the pen-ultimate delivery of the 81st over, Root came forward to a straight delivery from Umesh Yadav and played it straight back to him. Yadav held on to the catch and immediately threw the ball on the air but failed to catch it back.
On appeal, the Sri Lankan umpire, Kumara Dharmasena, after a discussion with Gaffany, referred to the third umpire. After a close scrutiny, the third umpire upheld the ‘soft verdict’ and Root returned to the pavilion after notching up 124 runs off 180 balls with 11 fours and a solitary six.
Moeen Ali, who was on 88 runs at the departure of Root, keeping Ben Stokes in company and ended the day, unbeaten on 99* runs, facing 191 deliveries with 9 fours. Stokes remained unbeaten on 19* runs.
At stumps, England had scored 311 runs for the loss of 4 wickets.
Ashwin claimed two wickets (Hameed and Duckett) while Jadeja claimed Cook and Yadav accounted for Root.
Team India would be required to rise to the occasion, work out a game plan to get rid of the remaining England batsmen, as soon as possible, on Day 2 and not allow them to pile up a big score.
After the day’s play, the centurion Root said,” We always thought seam might be a bit useful early on, and the guys at the top did well. We just knew we needed to build a partnership. I thought Mo was outstanding as well, look forward to watching him continue tomorrow. (Hameed”s DRS) was my fault. I thought he was excellent, looking so comfortable in an environment he”s not used to.”
Action begins on Day 2 tomorrow.