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India vs England: Ravichandran Ashwin’s four-for, Virat Kohli’s run out give India strong start

R Ashwin had a sensational start to the series with four wickets on a Day 1 pitch while Mohammed Shami, with hardly any competitive cricket played coming into the series, was the best among India’s pacers as England hobbled to 285/9 at stumps.

cricket Updated: Aug 01, 2018 23:49 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Birmingham
India vs England,Joe Root,Virat Kohli
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli (R) speaks to bowler Ravichandran Ashwin during the first day of the first Test cricket match between England and India at Edgbaston in Birmingham, England on August 1, 2018. (AP)

India didn’t really make the new ball count but with a collective bowling effort ensured another fighting first day for Virat Kohli’s team at the start of a challenging away Test series, against England at Edgbaston on Wednesday.(HIGHLIGHTS) (SCORECARD)

It was England’s 1000th Test, and despite concerns a sizeable crowd turned up. And when England skipper Joe Root was at the forefront pulling his inconsistent side towards a solid position after electing to bat on a pitch without much pace but a bit of purchase, there must have been creased brows in the Indian camp.

R Ashwin had a sensational start to the series with four wickets on a Day 1 pitch while Mohammed Shami, with hardly any competitive cricket played coming into the series, was the best among India’s pacers as England hobbled to 285/9 at stumps.

England would have been all out but wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik dropped Sam Curran (24no) off Ishant Sharma in the penultimate ball before play, extended by 30 minutes, was called off.

CAPE TOWN REPEAT

In the last away series in South Africa, India pacers had dismissed the Proteas for 286 on Day 1 of the first Test in Cape Town. On a more benign Edgbaston pitch where losing the toss wasn’t that bad, skipper Virat Kohli took things into his hands, providing the turning point.

The last thing one would have expect is a spinner striking the first blow in a Test series in England. Ashwin justified selection to face a team with seven left-handers, cleaning up Alastair Cook (13) with a stunning off-break in the ninth over of the day.

Shami, the best of India’s three-man pace attack that struggled for consistency and a misfiring Hardik Pandya, stuck twice in succession after England were 83/1 at lunch.

KOHLI STRIKES

Still, at 216 for three after tea, India were clearly behind. But Virat Kohli with his third direct hit – two were more target practice earlier but this one with sun on his eyes mattered most – ran out Joe Root for 80 after Jonny Bairstow had pushed him for a needless second run.

It triggered a collapse as England lost six wickets for 67 runs after tea.

The England skipper has got at least a half-century in each of his 12 Tests against India. However, he has been criticised for not converting fifties into centuries – 11 Tests without a ton since the 136 against West Indies here in August, 2017.

Kohli ensured the run continued, and it lifted the spirits of the visitors. Root, and a free-flowing Bairstow (70 off 88 balls), had motored to a 100-run fourth-wicket stand off just 137 balls. India had leaked 13 fours, or more than 50% of those runs, when Kohli intervened.

There was a kiss blown in Root’s direction and the finger on the lips, perhaps at the England skipper who had a ‘drop the mike’ celebration after his century in the final ODI.

In the morning, opener Keaton Jennings was dropped by Ajinkya Rahane at fourth slip off Ishant Sharma on nine. The youngster, who hit a debut century on the 2016 India tour, though lost focus after lunch when a pigeon came on to the pitch. Having shooed the bird away, he was out next delivery to Shami, the ball trickling on to the stumps off the inside edge and pad.

He also trapped Dawid Malan leg to expose England’s middle-order fragility. Once Kohli found the target, Umesh Yadav got the aggressive Jonny Bairstow play onto the stumps with reverse swing as the hosts didn’t show the character to dig in.

Ashwin, his place in question, was on a mission. He gave little away, trapping Jos Buttler for a second-ball duck before deceiving Ben Stokes with an off-break that bounced extra and was played back to him.

First Published: Aug 01, 2018 15:33 IST