The first Test between India and England saw India seize the upper hand as England’s batsmen and spin bowlers struggled.
The England squad, filled with positivity in recent years, will need a lot of it in the next seven weeks, especially after their first match in busy Hyderabad. It is clear that India, potentially feeling slighted by all the attention on Bazball before the series, is not messing around.
Confronted with a challenging pitch and facing the world’s most aggressive attack in these conditions, England managed to score 246 runs in 64.3 overs after winning the toss. This was largely thanks to a defiant 70 runs from Ben Stokes, which kept them in the competition. Considering that this total was higher than all but one of their scores during a difficult 3-1 defeat in India three years ago, and included many of the same team members, it can be seen as a form of improvement.
However, in the last session, there was a clear reminder of their deficiencies when Yashasvi Jaiswal scored an impressive 76 runs off 70 balls to lead India to 119 runs for one wicket in 23 overs. This was a difficult first appearance for Tom Hartley, who received his cap in the morning and showed composure by scoring 23 runs, but unfortunately, his first delivery in Test cricket was hit for a six.
This was the first of two mighty blows from Jaiswal in the second over of the reply after Stokes paired the one seamer in his quiver, Mark Wood, with his box-fresh left-armer. By stumps, Hartley had shipped 63 runs from nine wicketless, erratic overs, Stokes even burning the last of his reviews in an attempt to kickstart the rookie’s day.
England’s lack of warm-up matches seemed to be causing problems for them. While the more experienced players may have been able to prepare for Test cricket in practice, the spin attack led by Jack Leach, who had just returned from a long break, did not seem to be performing well on the first day. However, the England team would never admit to having any regrets.
We will have to wait and see, but it must be noted that no matter how well prepared, there is no substitute for experience in spin bowling. England made an effort to be proactive, but Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were able to take six wickets together, surpassing Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble as India’s most successful duo with a total of 506 wickets.
Ashwin, the powerful player, only needed 11 balls to score points that will most likely greatly contribute to his team’s success in the series. Despite Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett’s impressive performance of scoring 41 runs in the first eight overs, their success was short-lived when spin was introduced and led to three wickets in just 21 deliveries, exposing the true character of the pitch.
Ashwin started off the game with a bold haircut that was reminiscent of the two-colored surface. He quickly took out Duckett for 35 runs with a confident ball that slid on and hit the stumps, setting the tone for the rest of the match.persuaded Crawley to chip to mid-off on 20. In between came a troubling 11-ball one from Ollie Pope, England’s vice‑captain frenetic on his return after a shoulder operation and edging Jadeja to slip.
From 60 for three, there was a rebuild from Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow that took England to 121 for three. But the junior member of India’s spin trio broke the resistance soon after, left-armer Axar Patel producing a wonderful, spiteful ball to bowl Bairstow neck and crop for 37 – the first in a collapse of three wickets for 16 runs.
Root’s top-edged sweep off Jadeja on 29 looked a poor choice to ball outside off-stump but given his subcontinental success – and the fact he has now overtaken Sachin Tendulkar as the leading runscorer in Tests between these countries – his line of credit is vast. Ben Foakes similarly has a game for Asia, even if his edge to slip was meek.
Stokes’ impressive performance helped prevent a definitive outcome on the day, as he rose to the occasion with a strong knock after England’s score of 155 for seven. Despite undergoing knee surgery, the left-handed batsman showed no signs of discomfort, unlike last summer, and played aggressively to build up a powerful finish. He received valuable assistance from the lower-order batsmen, hitting six fours and three sixes, and proved that even Jadeja can be challenged.
Jasprit Bumrah delivered a precise seam ball that dismissed Stokes and ended the innings. While he may have preferred the off-cutter that removed Rehan Ahmed, England remained confident in their overall score. Ashwin attributed the early moisture for causing significant turn at the start of the match and deemed their total as competitive.
This strategy may seem reasonable on its own, especially since India is expected to bat last. However, when considering England’s bowling options, it becomes less effective. Although Leach was able to get Rohit Sharma out on 24, the English team was not as precise as their Indian counterparts.
The attack they faced could potentially be named Jaisball.