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IND vs ENG, 4th Test Day 1: India dismiss England for 205 as visitors misread pitch again

Brief Scores: Brief scores: England 205 (Ben Stokes 55, Daniel Lawrence 46; Axar Patel 4-68, R Ashwin 3-47) lead India 24/1 (James Anderson 0-1) by 181 runs.

Team England failed to make the most of winning a crucial toss as they were bundled out for just 205 on what was a fine batting wicket. Axar Patel managed to pick up four wickets and Ravichandran Ashwin got three as the English batters were unable to get over the scars from the previous game. Though Ben Stokes, Dan Lawrence and Ollie Pope stuck around and looked to trouble the Indians, they were unable to continue as India bounced right back in a game that is of great significance when it comes to the World Test Championship. 

The hosts cannot afford a loss here as a defeat will see them crash out of the finals, with Australia taking on New Zealand. 

Here are the talking points from Day 1 of the Test match. 

Mohammad Siraj impresses after edging ahead of Umesh in the XI 

After an impressive tour of Australia, where Mohammad Siraj led the pace attack brilliantly after injuries to first-choice bowlers, the expectations on the fast bowler has only increased. However, his biggest test was always going to be his performance in India on tracks that do not have much offer for the pacers. The fact that he edged ahead of Umesh Yadav – who has great success at home – to take Jasprit Bumrah’s place in the XI is evidence of the trust that the side has on Siraj. 

He took over with great success, and was impressive with his skills. He swung the ball beautifully both ways, got the odd balls back with precision and set up Joe Root perfectly. He realized Jonny Bairstow’s weakness against inswinging deliveries and dismissed him with a 146kmph ball that rushed the batsman as it came into him. He has great numbers in FC cricket, and though he has often been trolled for his inability to control his line and length in the death overs in the IPL, Siraj has emerged as a fine bowler for India in Test cricket. 

England’s mental scars gets the better of them again 

Joe Root had urged the English batters to show more resolve in the fourth Test while cautioning them to be alert against the straighter deliveries. In the Pink Ball Test, as many as 21 of 30 wickets had fallen to straighter deliveries (including Indian dismissals), and Root, thus, was not wrong in asking his team to be on their toes. 

However, his words fell on deaf ears as the day started with Dom Sibley playing for the turn in the sixth over of the day. A straighter ball got his inside edge, while the other players too were looking for the turning deliveries as they missed the line of straighter balls. 

Ben Stokes, who had done well to get his eye in and looked solid in the first 100 balls that he faced, played for the turn as well even though the Washington Sundar delivery held the length and moved with the arm. It was his 35th dismissal against off-spinners in 85 innings’ in Test cricket – the most against a particular kind of bowler. 

Daniel Lawrence shows the way 

Daniel Lawrence, who replaced Stuart Broad in the side, walked out to bat at 121 for 5, with the task of holding one end up and ensuring England got a sizable total in the first innings. Up against an older and a softer ball, Lawrence showed his skills and was easily the standout batsman despite Ben Stokes’ innings. His 74-ball stay on the wicket saw him loft over mid-on, whip through the covers and use his feet well against the fuller deliveries. He hit the shot of the day when he smashed Ishant Sharma, who bowled an overpitched ball, straight down the ground for a boundary. 

He was comfortable in his stay and played some wristy strokes, which derailed Team India’s plans. However, rather anticlimactically, he was stumped as he played a reckless shot while looking to charge down against Axar Patel. 

Rohit Sharma’s Test temperament is displayed again 

Rohit Sharma was always considered a modern day great in white ball cricket but his skills in Test cricket were still questioned. He had scored most of his runs in the longest format at home, but he has proven them wrong in the last few months. After a successful tour of Australia, Rohit has emerged as the best batsman of the series across both sides with his ability to adapt and gauge the track. He struck a fine 161 in the second Test at Chennai on what could be called a rank-turner and top-scored in the Pink Ball Test as he got his fifty in challenging conditions. 

On Thursday, he proved his credentials once again as he combated the inswinging deliveries with ease, got behind the line of the ball that were bowled by the spinners, used his feet well against the length deliveries and used soft hands against balls that had slight hints of turn. After the early dismissal of Shubman Gill, the onus was on Rohit to hold his end up and not give England a chance till the end of day’s play, which is exactly what Rohit proceeded to do. 

He ended the day with a knock of eight that came in 34 balls at a strike rate of 23.53. The fact that Cheteshwar Pujara ended the day with a strike rate of nearing 44 is evidence of how a naturally attacking batsman like Rohit curbed his game according to the team’s needs.

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