Indian pacers breathed fire in helpful conditions to dismiss a vulnerable England batting line-up for 183 and put their team in a strong position on Day 1 of the first Test on Wednesday. Jasprit Bumrah (4/46), who was not at his best during the World Test Championship final against New Zealand, was back in his element and ran through the opposition alongside his new ball partner Mohammad Shami (3/28). In fact, all the pacers including Mohammad Siraj (1/48) and Shardul Thakur (2/41) made the ball talk throughout the England innings lasting 65.4 overs, vindicating the team management’s decision to go for a four-pronged pace attack while leaving out premier spinner R Ashwin from the playing XI.
Ravindra Jadeja was picked as the sole spinner in the XI ahead of Ashwin, raising a few eyebrows. In response, KL Rahul, playing his first Test in two years, and Rohit Sharma, took India to 21 for no loss at Stumps, surviving 13 testing overs from England fast bowlers.
For a packed crowd at Trent Bridge, it was a treat to watch the Indian pacers display their supreme skills.
Shami moved the ball both ways, Bumrah bowled his fast swinging yorkers, Thakur flaunted his natural outswinger and Siraj used the scrambled seam to perfection.
India bowled brilliantly but their job was made easier by the English batsmen, who looked under prepared for red ball cricket after coming fresh from white ball games in The Hundred.
Skipper Joe Root (64) was the only batsman who looked comfortable in the middle and Jonny Bairstow, to a certain extent, as the duo shared a 72-run stand. England, who were 138 for four at Tea, lost their last six wickets for 45 runs and if it was not for Sam Curran’s unbeaten 27 towards the end, they would have struggled to cross 180.
Shami, who had removed Bairtsow at the stroke of Tea, struck four balls after the break by having Daniel Lawrence caught down the leg side, a soft dismissal.
Struggling to get off the mark, Jos Butter attempted a loose drive off Bumrah on his 18th ball only to edge it back to Rishabh Pant.
Thakur got the prized wicket of Root with a beautiful delivery that swung away slightly from the middle and leg stump to crash the England skipper’s pads, trapping him in front. He had Ollie Robinson caught at mid-on three balls later.
Bumrah polished off the tail like he usually does — his fast and full away swingers from middle stump proving too good for left-handers like Stuart Broad and James Anderson.
In the afternoon session, Root and Bairstow frustrated the Indian bowlers with solid Test match batting in challenging conditions, before Shami broke their stand by dismissing the latter.
Like the first session, Indian pacers beat the batsmen regularly but Root and Bairstow (29 off 71) played with grit and patience to thwart their attempts.
Shami was finally able to break their threatening stand by having Bairstow leg before at the stroke of Tea. Shami got one to jag back in and India reviewed the umpire’s decision successfully.
India had their tail up early on in the session when Shami had Dom Sibley caught at short mid-wicket in the third over post lunch.
Shami made Sibley fall into a trap set for him with a full ball on his pads which the England opener flicked it straight to Rahul, leaving the hosts at 66 for three.
While the Indian pacers kept asking questions with the ball constantly moving around, Root seemed to find answers more often that not. He played with soft hands and close to his body, and was quick to latch on to the loose balls.
In the morning, the Indian fast bowlers were up to the task, reducing England to 61 for two at Lunch.
With the sun beating down on Trent Bridge, Root opted to bat on a dry pitch with a decent covering of grass on top.
Bumrah trapped Rory Burns in front with a sharp in-swinger in the first over of the match after setting him up with three out-swingers.
Bumrah bowled his heart out in his six-over spell beating the batsmen multiple times. Shami, who bowled seven overs first up, too troubled Zak Crawley (27 off 68) and Dom Sibley on a number of occasions but as it often happens with him in England, the outside edge eluded him.
After India wasted one review for a caught behind in the same over, Siraj finally induced an inside edge from Crawley’s bat and this time skipper Virat Kohli reviewed it successfully.
Sibley survived a close lbw shot off Bumrah at the stroke of lunch but Kohli resisted the temptation for another review and rightly so.
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