India vs England: Alastair Cook’s dismissal opened floodgates for India

Though Ravichandran Ashwin did the trick for Team India, the most striking blow was struck by Mohammad Shami when he dismissed Alastair Cook with a stunning delivery.

cricket Updated: Nov 18, 2016 19:59 IST
Pradeep Magazine
Pradeep Magazine
Hindustan Times
Ravichandran Ashwin,Mohammad Shami,Alastair Cook
India's Mohammad Shami celebrates after dismissing England skipper Alastair Cook on Friday.(AFP)

India were back to their roaring best in conditions that have made them near invincible at home. Though they would have wanted to score far more than the 445 they ultimately did, their bowlers wove a web of complex spinning yarn around the batsmen to take control of the Test that is only two days old.

Though spin did the trick for India, the most striking blow was struck by Mohammad Shami when he dismissed Alastair Cook with a stunning delivery. Cook, the most accomplished batsman on both sides, found his defenses being breached by a ball that moved in late and like a laser beam found the gap between the bat and pads to strike the stumps. This blow to England’s aspirations came right at the start of their innings and after that the Indian spinners took over.

The wicket, unlike at Rajkot, responded well to Ravichandran Ashwin’s variety and diverse manoeuvres to leave the England batsmen struggling for answers.

Joe Root, the batsman England values as much as India does Virat Kohli, was the man India had to get early on. Root played beautifully till he lost his nerve and picked the wrong ball to step out in an effort to clear the fence. The drifter from Ashwin landed in Umesh Yadav’s hands at long off.

Downhill ride

It was a downhill ride for England after that and it might be safe to assume that India are now racing towards a victory and a 1-0 lead in the series. England will have to show will, resolve and skills of epic proportion to change this script that sees Indian domination written all over it from here onwards.

The first half of the day, like the second too, belonged to Ashwin. The skills of Ashwin the bowler are well known and his wicket-taking abilities on helpful home tracks have given India the sharp edge that helps them slice through the best batting line-ups in the world. He is also creating a formidable reputation for himself with the bat, scoring runs when they matter the most. Ever since he had been entrusted with the responsibility of batting at Number 6 in the West Indies, he has shown he is as good a batsman as any in the team. It is not just the runs he scores that have catapulted him to the pedestal as one of the foremost all-rounders in the game, it is also the graceful manner in which he strikes the ball that makes for a delightful sight to behold.

For an athlete who is over six feet tall, he may appear a bit overweight, but that in no way deters him from being quick on his feet while making room to drive or cut the ball. His appetite for runs and absorbing pressure has also given the Indian team the option to play an extra bowler.

When India stared at a late-order collapse, he found a useful partner in debutant Jayant Yadav to stabilise the Indian innings. Yadav seems to be yet another useful discovery and his surprise selection suggests that the Anil Kumble-Virat Kohli combine is not averse to taking bold decisions to create a formidable team. Yadav batted with a kind of assurance and confidence that would make even a veteran proud. His electric fielding, that helped get rid of Hameed when England were batting, and his off spin that fetched him a wicket, shows that India may have unearthed another player of tremendous all-round utility.

First Published: Nov 18, 2016 18:46 IST