India seized the upper hand on day one of the first Test against England, their spinners setting the tone before Yashasvi Jaiswal dished out his own version of ‘Bazball’ on the tourists.
Experienced duo Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, backed up ably by Axar Patel, accounted for eight England wickets as they were bundled out for 246 – captain Ben Stokes top-scoring with 70 – before Jaiswal smashed a 70-ball 76 not out to leave India on 119 for one at stumps.
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It was a chastening day for England Test debutant Tom Hartley, whose nine overs went for 63 having been targeted by the brilliant Jaiswal.
India opened with the pace of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj and England profited, opening pair Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett looking reasonably comfortable in putting on 55 for the first wicket.
The picture changed when spin replaced seam. Jadeja beat Crawley three times in a maiden and, therefore, it came as no surprise when Ashwin trapped Duckett in front for 35.
Ollie Pope (one) survived just 11 balls before Ashwin also snared Crawley (20). From 55 without loss, England had slumped to 60 for three.
Yorkshire pair Joe Root (29) and Jonny Bairstow (37) stabilised the innings with a level of composure that would have given England encouragement. Watchful, but also willing to dispatch the odd bad ball, the pair offered hope that England could post a strong total. Those hopes were dashed by another rapid burst from India.
First, Patel produced an unplayable delivery that dislodged Bairstow’s off-stump before Root top-edged Jadeja to short fine leg.
Not for the first time, it was left to Stokes to rebuild and he did so with gusto despite the regular falling of wickets at the other end.
Stumps on the opening day in Hyderabad! 🏟️
An eventful day with the bat and the ball 😎#TeamIndia move to 119/1, trail by 127 runs 👏
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 25, 2024
Hartley played nicely for his 23 but Stokes received precious little support from elsewhere, forcing him to throw the bat which he did to great effect, making 70 from 88 balls before being the last wicket to fall.
It seemed a respectable total from England, until Jaiswal set to work.
The first ball of the innings from Mark Wood was dispatched to the boundary for four while Hartley’s maiden delivery in Test cricket was hammered over the rope for six.
India rattled along way to their fastest 50 in the first innings of a Test match, helped no end by some rank England bowling.
The only bright spot in a poor evening session came when India captain Rohit Sharma (24) holed out to mid-on off Jack Leach.
Tomorrow threatens to be another day of toil for Stokes’ men.