When England look back at the first day’s proceedings of the fourth Test, the image of Moeen Ali’s dismissal is most likely to haunt them. At 230 for two, England had built a perfect platform from where they could given the charge and achieve their main aim of putting up a good enough total to test India. It was when Moeen, well set on 50, seemed to suffer a brain freeze. He chose to smash Ashwin to the leg-side and gifted his wicket. (SCORECARD)
India’s spin spearhead R Ashwin needed no second invitation. He broke the back of England batting with a four-wicket haul reducing them to 249 for five. The middle-order collapse undid the gains provided by a brilliant hundred on debut by opener Keaton Jennings and at stumps, England were 288 for five. The visitors hopes now rest on Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.
What would have England stressed out more is that Thursday’s play followed the pattern of their last four innings, where they have lost wickets in a cluster to fritter away advantageous situations. (DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS)
At Vizag, on second day evening of the second Test, when the wicket was good to bat on, they lost their top five wickets for just 80 runs. In their second innings, from 87 for one they were all out for 158. In the third Test at Mohali, they frittered away the advantage of winning the toss and were 87 for four before the end of the first session. The second essay was even worst when they were reduced to 107 for six.
JENNINGS vs ASHWIN
Batting with the calm assurance of a pro, Jennings announced his arrival at the international stage with a sparkling innings of 112. His only blemish was the catch offered to gully but Karun Nair couldn’t latch on the ball.
The feature of the innings was Jennings’ battle with the Indian spinners. Ashwin tested him with his variations in line and length but Jennings showed good technique to hold his own. He used the reverse sweep effectively to counter Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Jayant Yadav’s ploy of attacking him from outside the off-stump. He even had the audacity to complete his hundred with a reverse sweep.
It was a measure of debutant’s performance that Ashwin simply ran through the rest of the England batting. The Indian off-spinner induced poor shots from Moeen and Jonny Bairstow, while having Jennings and Joe Root caught at slips to finish with a four-wicket haul.
COMPARISON WITH COOK
He became the first opener from England to score a hundred on debut in India in the last 10 years, emulating Cook’s effort in 2006. The similarity with his skipper doesn’t end with their debuts and being left-handed openers. Even their story in leading up to their selection is strikingly similar.
Cook was touring with the England A team in the Caribbean when he got the SOS to join the England team and marked his debut with memorable hundred at Nagpur. Jennings, the South African-born son of coach and former player Ray Jennings, has been called up from the England Lions squad in the UAE to replace the injured Haseeb Hameed. His opening partnership of 99 with Cook at almost four an over being the best period for the visitors.