Birmingham: Ravi Ashwin (4/60) once more showed his class as India ended day one in an advantageous position against England on the opening day of the first Test at Edgbaston, here Wednesday. The hosts ended the day at 285 for nine.
After skipper Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat, England seemed to be in the driver’s seat twice during the course of the innings. The first when they went to lunch at 83 for the loss of Alastair Cook’s wicket and then when Root (80, 156b, 9×4) and Jonny Bairstow (70,88b, 9×4) had put on 104 runs for the fourth wicket.
Cricket is unpredictable and Root’s counterpart Virat Kohli proved it with a brilliant direct throw from mid-wicket to send back the former. That opened the floodgates and England at stumps were struggling to reach to the 300-run mark with Sam Curran (24 batting) and Jimmy Anderson (0) batting at the crease.
Ashwin was well-supported by Mohammed Shami (2/64), Ishant Sharma (1/46) and Umesh Yadav (1/56). All chipped in at crucial junctures to put the hosts on the backfoot. But then the day belonged to Ashwin. Starting the day with a ripper to castle Cook, the Indian offie picked up wickets at regular intervals, whenever England looked like taking the game away. Among his other victims were Ben Stokes (21), Jos Buttler (0) and Stuart Broad (1).
But then it was Shami, who with a lovely spell of bowling in the post lunch session, put the brakes on England as he sent back Keaton Jennings (42) and Dawid Malan (eight). The former played on, while the latter had no clue to one that swung in late to be caught in front.
It was then that England had their most fruitful period as Root and Bairstow took the attack to the Indian bowlers. Root played copybook cricket, while Bairstow, initially troubled by Shami’s in-dippers took the aggressive way to survive. Root played some delectable shots within the ‘V’ while Bairstow pummeled the ball away square of the wicket on both sides.
Root dropped anchor and ate up a lot more deliveries against the Indian pacers. His strike rate dropped below 50, even as he completed his half century off 107 balls. It was his 12th half century against India in 12 successive Tests. Root also became the quickest England batsman to 6,000 Test runs in terms of time from his debut when he reached the landmark. Root got to the landmark in five years and 231 days of his Test career, surpassing former England captain Alastair Cook’s mark of five years and 339 days.