Hyderabad: Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal led India’s response with a blazing unbeaten 76 off 70 balls as the hosts’ ended day one’s play in the first Test at 119/1 in 23 overs, trailing England by 127 runs after the spinners took eight wickets to bowl out the visitors’ for 246 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Thursday.
Electing to bat first on a pitch which was dry from one end and green-ish in the middle, fans waited with bated breath to see England’s attacking style of playing Test cricket. They were great in patches – the opening partnership between Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett yielded 55 runs while Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow had a stand of 61 runs for the fourth wicket.
England’s first challenge of fronting up to Indian spinners in their Bazball era ended in favour of the visitors’. Eight England wickets fell to spin as they were left in spot of bother twice at 60-3 and 155-7. Stokes, the England skipper, brought up his 31st Test fifty after lunch, while making precious runs with the lower-order to take England past 200.
Three wickets each taken by Jadeja and Ashwin respectively, though the former was expensive due to coming in line of the Stokes onslaught. Axar Patel took two wickets, while fast-bowler Jasprit Bumrah also had two scalps.
Stokes, coming back to action after a left knee surgery last year, proved that he still possesses of his famed fighting qualities, seen by hitting six fours and three sixes to hit 70 off 88 balls and lead a late counter-attack for England.
He followed his all-familiar pattern of starting slow, before pressing the accelerator for entering a higher gear and clearing the boundary ropes with aggressive stroke-play, seen from him getting his last 53 runs off his final 36 deliveries.
By stumps, Jaiswal had launched a stunning onslaught on England’s bowlers, particularly on debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley, to get a 47-ball fifty and continue his sparking start to Test cricket.
In the morning, Crawley and Duckett played some cracking shots off the middle of the bat to fetch boundaries at a fast rate, especially whenever Mohammed Siraj pitched it full, to score 41 in first eight overs. Duckett also took the attack initially to Jadeja, scooping and sweeping of him to take two fours.
After that, India pulled back things quickly – Ashwin got one to come in straight after pitching and rapped Duckett on the front pad. Jadeja then got one to turn in and take a jittery Ollie Pope’s outside edge on a hard push to Rohit first slip. Ashwin had his second scalp of the session when Crawley chipped a drive to mid-off, who ran forward to take a low catch.
Bairstow looked comfortable in hitting five boundaries off Ashwin and Jadeja, getting majority of his runs square of the wicket through the off-side. Root looked solid after the initial hesitation as he and Bairstow took their fourth wicket partnership to 61 runs.
But after lunch, Bairstow was dismissed by a near-unplayable delivery from left-arm spinner Axar Patel. Bairstow was looking for another shot to be played off the backfoot, but the ball coming with a tall release point and from wide of the crease, spun away after pitching in the middle and went past the outside edge to hit top of off-stump.
Root continued to sweep his away before it caused his downfall as his pre-mediated sweep took a big top-edge to short fine leg off Jadeja. England continued to lose momentum post lunch as Ben Foakes went after a spinning away delivery from Axar and nicked to wicketkeeper KS Bharat.
Bumrah joined the wicket-takers party by slipping in a slower off-cutter which took the inside edge of Rehan Ahmed behind to Bharat. Debutant Hartley shined in a small cameo of 23 off 24 runs, including a slog-sweep off Ashwin for six. But he was castled by Jadeja, who got the ball to uproot his leg-stump after beating him on the inside edge.
From the other end, Stokes got his first boundary in 53 balls with a switch-hit past Jadeja and repeated the same shot against the spinner. Stokes again went after him, hitting down the ground, heaving over leg-side and then reverse-sweeping in front of square for three boundaries.
Wood showed no intentions of hanging around by driving Ashwin past point for four till tea arrived. After that, Stokes smashed Jadeja for two back-to-back enormous leg-side sixes to bring up his fifty, after being given a reprieve by Bharat on the first ball of the third session.
After Mark Wood was castled by Ashwin while attempting a big heave, Stokes lofted the off-spinner for six and then got a four off Bumrah. Eventually, Bumrah beat Stokes comprehensively on the outside edge and rattled his off-stump to wrap England’s innings in 64.3 overs.
Jaiswal started India’s innings with a first-ball boundary flicked off Mark Wood. He then welcomed Tom Hartley into Test cricket with two slog-swept sixes and then pulled, followed by driving twice to pick three fours.
Combining powerful strokeplay and impeccable timing, Jaiswal would again drive twice off Hartley and reached his fifty in 47 balls with a pull past mid-wicket for four. Captain Rohit Sharma was a mere spectator in an 80-run opening stand dominated by Jaiswal, though he hit three boundaries.
He fell for 24 after being deceived in flight by Leach and his lofted drive caught by Stokes at mid-on. Jaiswal continued to hammer boundaries off Hartley and Rehan Ahmed till stumps arrived. With a strong day one, India would be hoping that Jaiswal converts his blazing knock into a big innings on day two.
Brief Scores: England 246 in 64.3 overs (Ben Stokes 70, Ben Duckett 35; Ravichandran Ashwin 3-68, Ravindra Jadeja 3-88) lead India 119/1 in 23 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 76 not out, Rohit Sharma 24; Jack Leach 1/24) by 127 runs. IANS