India were not punished for their shoddy catching after losing a vital toss in the third Test on Saturday as England threw away the advantage with some of their batsmen dismissed playing rank poor shots. (HIGHLIGHTS)
That meant India could still be pleased with where they stood in the game at stumps on Day One, despite four catches being floored in a repeat of the drawn Rajkot Test, where five chances were grassed.
The pitch, shorn of grass, didn’t provide much assistance to the bowlers, but England skipper Alastair Cook, his deputy and the team’s main batsman, Joe Root, all-rounders Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes all fell playing rash shots.
If England still finished the day on 268 for 8, it was due to their batting depth. Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow held the innings together, and raised half-century partnerships with Stokes as well as the recalled Jos Buttler for the sixth and seventh wickets. (SCORECARD)
A steady start by England suggested that they would assert themselves on a pitch that provided little help to the bowlers. Rookie opener Haseeb Hameed and skipper Cook looked comfortable and India compounded their worries by dropping Cook twice off Mohammed Shami in the first hour of play, one a straightforward chance to Ravichandran Ashwin at midwicket.
A ball from Umesh Yadav kicked off length to get Hameed. Thereafter, the England innings unravelled. “It happens in cricket, sometimes the fielders take a brilliant catch, sometimes they drop. Not disappointed at all but one has to keep trying to create more chances and take wickets. Every team has its ups and down,” Umesh Yadav said after stumps.
Read more | India vs England: A series of dropped catches
Cook failed to make the reprieves count as Ashwin atoned for his lapse by having the left-handed batsman caught behind, beaten by the bounce trying to cut a wide ball.
That came immediately after fellow off-spinner Jayant Yadav enhanced his growing reputation after skipper Virat Kohli had tossed to him ahead of Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. He trapped Root leg before off the first ball after drinks, but the dismissal was as much due to the batsman’s shocking shot selection, playing across to an off-break.
Moeen Ali’s weakness against short ball was again exploited, the top edge off Shami’s bouncer finding Murali Vijay at fine leg placed for that shot.
Bairstow to rescue
With England reeling a 144 for 5, Bairstow made sure the lower order didn’t capitulate. He added 57 with Ben Stokes (29), who was given a sort of send-off by Kohli after charging down the pitch to be stumped off Jadeja.
Bairstow next stitched together 69 runs with Jos Buttler, which made sure England went past 250.
Having ceded ground in the afternoon after taking four wickets in the morning, India regained control with a couple of blows, including the wicket of Bairstow. Jayant got one to turn to trap Bairstow before Umesh, who bowled brilliantly before tea but without luck, bowled Chris Woakes (25) with the second new ball, the delivery keep a bit low to hit off-stump.
“I am disappointed with the way I got out. But other than that, we are still in the game. It’s good we didn’t buckle down and paced our innings well in the middle overs,” Bairstow said.