Birmingham, August 1
Off-spinner Ravichandran Aswhin produced one of his most impactful performance outside the Subcontinent as India reduced England to 285/9 on the opening day of the first Test.Ashwin (4/60) registered his best figures in Test cricket across South Africa, England and Australia as the hosts lost six wickets for 69 runs in the final session of play to find themselves in a precarious position after opting to bat.Joe Root (80 runs off 156 balls, 9x4s) scored his 41st Test half-century but the English innings completely got derailed after his dismissal. At stumps, Sam Curran was batting on 24 with James Anderson for company. In the final session of the day, India didn’t begin well with England progressing well as Jonny Bairstow (70 off 88 balls, 9x4s) brought up his 18th Test half-century off 72 balls.In doing so, he put on 105 runs with Root for the fourth wicket. Root and Bairstow got their runs off only 138 balls as England crossed 200 in the 62nd over and were looking set for a strong total before things unravelled in the most odd fashion.
It was the 63rd over of the innings when Virat Kohli’s direct throw ran out Root as he tried to come back for a non-existent double. That dismissal changed the momentum of the innings with England collapsing thereafter. England lost three wickets for eight runs in the next 25 balls. First, Bairstow played on off Umesh Yadav (1/56) and then Ashwin trapped Jos Buttler lbw for a two-ball duck as England were rocked out of their comfort zone. Sensing a kill, India never let go the pressure in the remainder of the session. Every time England tried to build a partnership, Indian bowlers struck back and it resulted in regular wickets. Ashwin dismissed Ben Stokes (21) with a return catch in the 75th over as England were reduced to 243/7. A 35-run partnership between Adil Rashid (13) and Curran raised visions of a fightback but Ishant Sharma (1/46) finally got rewarded for his hard toil, trapping Rashid lbw with a sharp inswinger. Ashwin then accounted for Stuart Broad (1), lbw too, but Anderson somehow managed to thwart his efforts for a five-wicket haul.
Earlier, Mohammed Shami struck twice in the second session before England skipper Root scored his 41st Test half-century to guide the hosts to 163/3 at tea. Shami bowled an incisive spell after lunch, dismissing Keaton Jennings (42) and Dawid Malan (8) as India piled on the pressure in the second session.Jennings was the first to go, but in an odd manner. Just prior to his dismissal, there was a pigeon near the pitch that distracted him and on the very next ball, he played on after the ball clipped his pads. It was a lucky breakthrough for India as their pacers found movement after the break. Ishant and Shami bowled closer to the England batsmen and made them play more often, with Shami reaping the rewards.