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Bumrah leads pace pack, India start England series with a bang

Knocking over England for 183 before ending the day without losing a wicket at 21/0, rarely has a Day 1 been this good for India away from home.
By Somshuvra Laha, Kolkata
PUBLISHED ON AUG 04, 2021 11:20 PM IST
Jasprit Bumrah celebrates taking the wicket of England's Jos Buttler with teammates(Action Images via Reuters)

First days of opening Tests go a long way in setting up a series. We are talking five Tests here. India rarely start well away from home. England too are under the pump with several batsmen playing for their careers. There are bound to be nerves, hesitation, and even some inexplicable calls. In picking Ravindra Jadeja over Ravichandran Ashwin to bolster the batting and create a left-arm threat to England’s predominantly right-handed batting line-up, India showed they were no exception to pre-series jitters. They still prevailed after losing their sixth successive toss in England and bowling on a dry Nottingham pitch with an even smattering of grass. Knocking over England for 183 before ending the day without losing a wicket at 21/0, rarely has a Day 1 been this good for India away from home.

A redeeming feature of England’s batting has been their middle-order’s ability to often dig themselves out of a hole. With Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Sam Curran coming in after Joe Root, England wouldn’t have been faulted for thinking this time too would be no different despite the absence of Ben Stokes. But India kept up the pressure by relentlessly attacking the stumps, their bowlers using the crease well to plot dismissals and being bold with reviews. Virat Kohli could have been easily disheartened by his wrong call for a caught-behind review against Zak Crawley. But Rishabh Pant prodded him to go upstairs again two balls later when Mohammed Siraj did take an inside edge that evaded everyone else’s eyes. When Mohammed Shami pinned Bairstow with an in-cutter, it was Shardul Thakur who convinced Kohli there was no bat involved. He was right as well.

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Those two wickets rattled England. Till tea, all four England wickets to fall bookended the first two sessions, disrupting the flow of their innings. The momentum was slowly shifting in the second session, with Joe Root and Bairstow quietly building a foundation that could help England breach the 200-run mark without trouble. On his return to Test cricket, Bairstow looked confident and even flattered with a couple of expansive drives off Siraj till Shami caught him on the wrong foot. A run rate of 2.44 in the first session, followed by 3.04 in the post-lunch session and England were almost on the verge of rounding off a good total.

But the third session just didn’t go their way. Buttler, after facing 17 dot balls, was all nerves when he tentatively pushed at Jasprit Bumrah’s angling-in delivery. That dismissal, after Dan Lawrence’s low-key dismissal—glancing the ball to Pant off Shami—meant Root was again left to wage a lone battle with just Curran in support. To England’s relief, Root was in extraordinary form, crunching exquisite drives and pushing for twos even though it meant taking on the arm of Jadeja at times.

Where India could have been slightly more proactive was plugging the gap between third slip and gully or placing a third man for Root. Siraj and Thakur induced quite a few edges that could have been caught or defended at the ropes. But this was India’s day. So Root didn’t really have a chance of even reviewing when Thakur got him plumb in front of the stumps with a full delivery that angled in before straightening, just enough to induce a false shot.

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